The Power of Bystanders
It's important to think ahead about what to do when you see or hear about bullying. As a bystander, your actions can make a difference.
Did you know...
- Kid bystanders are almost always present when bullying occurs - in fact, in 85% or more of bullying incidents
- More than 50% of the time, bullying stops within 10 seconds of a kid bystander stepping in to help
What Not to Do as a Bystander
When you see or hear about bullying, don't encourage or join in the bullying by:
- Prodding the bully
- Laughing, cheering, or making comments that encourage the bully
- Directly joining in the bullying with harmful words and actions directed toward the kid getting bullied
By joining in, you are contributing to the bullying - and being a bully yourself.
As a bystander, your instinct might be to watch the bullying and do nothing because you:
- Think "It's none of my business"
- Fear getting hurt or getting picked on yourself
- Feel powerless to stop the bully
- Don't know what to do
But if you watch the bullying and do nothing, you are contributing to the problem.
Why? Because you are providing the audience a bully wants and the silent acceptance that encourages him or her to keep on bullying
Doing nothing is NOT an option.
What To Do as a Bystander: Directly Intervening and Other Options
As a bystander, if you feel safe, you can directly intervene. Here are some ways you can help:
- Tell the bully to stop (Say things like "Stop teasing," "Don't fight," "Leave him alone," and "It's not funny")
- Discourage the bully
- Redirect the situation away from the bullying (You could change the subject or start a new activity)
- Play peacemaker
- Urge or help the kid getting bullied to walk away from the situation
- Urge or help the kid doing the bullying to walk away from the situation
Regardless of which strategy you choose, when you directly intervene as a bystander, it can really help the situation.
If you can't or don't feel safe intervening, there are ways you can help the situation. You have 4 additional options:
- Option #1: Rally support from other kids, your fellow bystanders - By joining together with other kid bystanders, you can take a powerful stand against bullying.
- Option #2: Show friendship and support to the kid who is getting bullied - When you give support to someone who is getting bullied, even little gestures (sitting with someone at lunch, for instance) can mean a lot.
- Option #3: Get help from a trusted adult - You can also get help by going to an adult that you trust - he or she can help stop the bullying and keep you and your friends safe
- Option #4: Walk away from the situation - By walking away, you are taking away the audience that the bully wants and needs. And if you can follow that up by rallying support, getting help, or supporting the kid getting bullied, that's even better. But just walking away helps, too.
What will YOU do? Think ahead...