Class descriptions

Bystander Intervention Training for Adults

Part 1: Verbal Self-Defense. This 2-hour segment teaches techniques for setting respectful limits with someone you work with, someone in your family, or someone you see regularly in your neighborhood. How you respectfully discuss ideas with people you disagree with varies based on your verbal style. We’ll practice ways to maintain your integrity while avoiding an argument with someone you disagree with. This section can be tailored to address workplace bias speech or bias speech with family and friends. By the end of the program, you’ll have some go-to techniques to increase your chances of successful dialogue.

Part 2: Active Bystander Practices. The second 2-hour segment. Given your physical type and presentation, gender, race, social status, geographic location, there are better and worse ways to intervene in a conflict situation. Learn how to identify a circumstance that requires intervention.  Learn your go-to interventions. Learn to choose the most effective tactic from your bag of tricks. Practice this with the group. Verbal self-defense is a highly recommended pre-requisite.

Verbal self-defense in the workplace. This 2-hour program takes the basics of verbal self-defense into workplace situations. How do you respectfully discuss ideas within meetings at work, within group projects, and socially among coworkers? We’ll practice techniques for gathering and maintaining allies at work, and ways to set limits. This section can address workplace bias speech and other forms of bullying at work.  By the end of the program, you’ll have some go-to techniques to increase your chances of successful dialogue.

Verbal Self-Defense and Bystander Intervention Training can be taught in two 2-hour segments on two occasions or as a single 3-hour program. This program is suitable for adults.

Core topics outline available here.


Bystander Intervention for Teens 

I currently offer two distinct bystander intervention classes for teenagers. Both are single 2-hour programs. 

How To Be an Active Bystander, For Teens

This curriculum mirrors my adult program. It is designed to teach the verbal techniques of active bystander intervention, but at an adolescent’s developmental level. My experience teaching and counseling teenagers and young adults gives me the skill to safely role play with this age group.

Program goals:

  • Explain the strengths and weaknesses of different personality types
  • Practice the types of expressions and statements that disrupt hateful speech
  • Explain the social importance of interrupting hate speech
  • Practice key points of situational awareness. Describes the basics of active bystander practice in public situations, with a focus on safety.

This class includes role play. 

TAB, Quabbin Mediation Course

This is the TAB program – Training Active Bystanders – by Quabbin Mediation. It is designed to provide teens (or adults) with the competencies they need when they witness something they feel is unfair, or wrong, or troubling. When people have the tools to create justice in the moment of need, it can transform the community.

This class aims to explore the social and emotional factors that encourage you and inhibit you from acting as a bystander. This program is high on emotional safety and does not do role playing.

Program goals:

  • recognize when you are a bystander
  • analyze your situation
  • evaluate the consequences for everyone involved



Rona Fischman holds an MS in Counselor Education. She counseled and taught teenagers and adults, specializing in language and communication. She wrote curriculum for non-violent direct action in the 1980s and 1990s, for projects against nuclear power and against domestic violence. She is a founding member and early leader in the Daughters of Abraham interfaith book group model. She worked to develop the first year curriculum and group mentoring program for the Daughters of Abraham. She currently runs a small real estate buyer’s brokerage in Cambridge, MA.