Are you a bystander to bullying?

A bystander is someone who happens to be there when something is happening. Do you know someone being bullied?
New students get picked on easliy.  Net photo.
New students get picked on easliy. Net photo.

A bystander is someone who happens to be there when something is happening. Do you know someone being bullied?

Reasons for bullying;

•    Maybe someone looks different.

•    Maybe they have a different religion.

•    Maybe they have a disability.

•    Maybe people are bullying them just because they can!

Well, you may not be able to do much for all the people around the world being bullied, but you can make a start by looking closely at what happens around you.

He was only joking.

I was only sticking up for my friend.

Well, she doesn’t fit in.

It was only a bit of fun.

Have you heard people say things like this when they explaining why they stood by while someone was being hurt? Maybe you have said those kinds of things yourself.

Everyone has the power to influence the lives of others in some way. Anyone can be the victim of bullying. It can simply be a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

When bullying is happening and you are present, you have four choices.

1. Stand and watch

If something is happening, it is normal to go and see what is going on. If one or more people are hurting someone, it is normal to feel curious, excited or afraid.  Watching someone get hurt puts you on the same side as the bully. If you are not helping the victim, then you are giving your support to the bully. Do you want to do that? Get other people to support you if you are scared – it’s normal to feel scared.

2. Support the bully

Everyone likes to feel powerful at times, but supporting a bully is not the way to go. There are other reasons why someone might take sides with a bully.

- Maybe you don’t like the person who is the victim.

- Maybe the bully is a friend.

- Maybe you are afraid that if you don’t support the bully, you could be the next victim.

Helping a bully hurt someone is misusing your power. How would you feel if you were the victim?

3. Get away from there

It is normal to think:

- I don’t want to get involved

- I don’t want to get hurt

- They probably deserved it anyway

- Keeping out of trouble is best

Getting away from bullying will keep you safe. Once again, the bully wins. By going away, you are telling the bully that what he is doing is OK– that you don’t care if the victim is being hurt.

4. Be an active bystander

If someone is being hurt, it is normal to want to help that person. However, look at the situation carefully before you act. It’s important to keep yourself safe.

Tell the person being bullied that you don’t like it and ask, ”Would you like me to tell someone or go with you to tell someone?” Get your friends to come and help stop the bullying. It is important to be kind to the victim and act as a witness to what happened. This sends the message that bullying is not OK with you, your friends, or your school.


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