From airplanes to NBA games to grocery stores and beaches, it seems like many Americans have forgotten how to behave. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, customers everywhere have lashed out at employees over social distancing and mask policies.
David Vaughn, the beach safety director of the South Walton Fire District in the panhandle of Florida, says public service workers have been treated poorly by tourists.
"Last year with COVID, we saw a lot of anger, and we kind of we wrote it off to being a unique historical context. We kind of said, 'OK, we can account for this,'" Vaugh said. "Unfortunately, we've seen some of that carry over this year, where people have been really angry and, for lack of a better way to sugarcoat it, abusive."
The nonprofit group Hollaback is leading a campaign against harassment.
"When we see harassment happening — things like fear, stress, slightly different communication styles and also grieving and loss tend to be at the heart of why folks sometimes lash out or could harass someone," said Jorge Arteaga, Hollaback's deputy director.
The goal is to teach people how to intervene in such altercations by teaching the "Five Ds" of bystander intervention. The focus is on the victim experiencing the harm, not on the one causing it.
"What we really hope is the Five Ds will become the 'stop drop and roll' this generation, where everyone feels equipped to do at least one thing to show up and support folks," Arteaga said.
Over the years, the group has seen increased requests for training because of movements like #MeToo and Stop AAPI Hate.
"The only good thing that ever came from someone being harassed was when someone supported them or showed up to help them in a situation," Arteaga said.
Hollaback offers free bystander intervention online for anyone interested, including training for conflict de-escalation, resilience building and implicit bias. Learn more by clicking here.