When Be More Than a Bystander launched in 2011, the four main components of the program were to develop a broad public awareness campaign featuring BC Lions players, develop a curriculum and teaching materials for a school program and train BC Lions to deliver in-person presentations in high schools throughout BC, deliver training to football coaches in the province on how to talk to kids about violence against women and respectful relationships, and create a film that would appeal to youth with positive messaging that it is ‘cool’ to respect women and the importance of bystanders speaking up to prevent violence against women and girls.
Since its inception, Be More Than a Bystander has continuously gained momentum and broadened its audience. Publicity impressions are conservatively estimated to be in the hundreds of millions, it has won several awards, been highlighted in a global session at the United Nations in New York, and is directly responsible for a number of spin-off campaigns across Canada that include the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Football Saskatchewan. In August 2015, the groundwork laid by Be More Than a Bystander led to the development of the Canadian Football League’s Policy on Violence Against Women, a policy that applies to all CFL players, coaches, officials, executives and staff across Canada. In-person presentations to BC high school and post-secondary students, Indigenous communities, workplaces and the like have brought the number of people reached directly by Bystander spokespersons into the hundreds of thousands.
Central to the Be More Than a Bystander model is the recognition that the vast majority of men do not commit violence against women, but rather care deeply about the women and girls in their lives and in the world, and then asking those men to take ownership and play an active role in creating positive change. This approach is welcomed and supported by many. From the beginning, enthusiasm for the program has continued to grow, leaving no doubt that engaging men and boys as allies to “Break the Silence on Violence Against Women” is an idea whose time has come.