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Green Dot Encourages Students to Step Up

By Isabella Ingersoll

Berkeley High School (BHS) takes pride in its integrity and awareness of the social issues that inevitably come with the high school experience. That said, students are often endangered by frequent incidents occurring both on and off campus. BHS established an on-campus resource for students: On Campus Intervention (OCI). In order to help students feel more comfortable making reports on violence, BHS has a unique organization in OCI: the Green Dot program.

“Green Dot is a bystander intervention training that equips students with specific strategies to intervene in and prevent acts of sexual harassment/assault, bullying, and relationship violence,” said Kiernan Rok, BHS’s dean of students. The program is utilized on several college campuses, but Rok explained how a few high schools, including BHS, have adapted the program. “BUSD has a Sexual Harassment Advisory Committee (SHAC) that makes recommendations about ways that schools can effectively address sexual harassment.”

Green Dot is a proactive program as it allows students to have the powerful role of becoming Green Dots. Jasdeep Malhi, a lead intervention counselor at BHS and one of the leaders of Green Dot, explained that Green Dot is “a special program because you have to be nominated by a teacher or by another Green Dot, and you have to be a junior,” Malhi said. “We train you in your junior year so that you can be active your senior year,” added Malhi. Rok explained that four cohorts of students are trained every year.

Lena Haber is a BHS student who has been trained and is now an active Green Dot. She explained how as a Green Dot, she and others are “trained on how to be active listeners and watchers in terms of possible red dots or bad situations going on around us.” Haber also explained how she has been trained on how to be an active bystander without endangering herself using “strategies that diffuse potentially explosive or unsafe interactions without putting ourselves at risk.”

Rok and Malhi are both proud of the program and have seen countless successes as a result of it. For example, Malhi mentioned one interaction a Green Dot had outside of school. “Recently, a Green Dot was at a party and he saw someone taking someone else upstairs and they were both intoxicated.” Malhi explained how this student used his Green Dot training to do what is called a “direct intervention.” He yelled at the drunk pair going upstairs, telling them to come down. Others witnessing the scene agreed and joined in. As a result, both students were able to be safe and escape a situation where they would have been stripped of consent.

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