Guidance for responding to harmful behavior

Take action: responding and reporting

You may not be able to prevent all instances of harmful behavior, but you can have a big impact on your virtual community by responding promptly, appropriately, and compassionately if harmful behavior occurs. Some responses are possible in the moment; other responses may be more appropriate shortly thereafter. It is very important to follow up with the participants in your virtual space so they know you are aware of what happened, recognized its impact, and took action in response.

Witnessing harmful behavior by others can be difficult and stressful; we encourage you to seek help yourself, from a trusted colleague or campus resource.

Images can be very traumatizing; if your space is disrupted by pornographic images, slurs, symbols of hate (e.g., swastikas or nooses), etc., you should take action immediately.

Responses in the moment

  • Call out behavior
  • Acknowledge that it should not have happened
  • Intervene to put a quick stop to it 
    • Mute participants
    • Disable screen share
    • Disable video function
    • Other immediate technical fixes

Reporting an incident

Follow-up and accountability