We as educators, concerned parents, mentors, must be sure to address all participants in the event of a bullying situation: the student who is being bullied, the student who is bullying, and the bystander(s).
While logical consequences are the best methods of addressing the student who is bullying, for students who would just witness bullying, to make sure bullying doesn’t continue and the negative effects are minimized, we need to concentrate on bystander empowerment.
Support Bystanders Who Witness Bullying
Even the students who witness a bullying situation can be affected. Many times, when they see a bullying situation, they may not know what to do to stop it. They may not feel safe stepping in the moment, but there are many tools they can use. If students see a bullying situation they could:
Tell A Trusted Adult – The More The Better
- Tell a trusted adult at school and at home. Bullying not only affects the school, but the entire community. The more adults working together, the better.
- Depending on the situation, they can let an adult know in person or leave them a note.
Be friendly – Kindness is Contagious
Students who are being bullied feel isolated, unequal. Tell bystanders that you must help people not because they are your friends, but because it is the right thing to do! You may want to go over the difference between a friendship (relationship) and acting friendly. We are not saying that everyone needs to be friends – that doesn’t happen in the ‘real world’- but that doesn’t mean we can’t be friendly towards one another.
- Bystanders can also help the person being bullied talk to a trusted adult.
- A bystander can help by telling the person being bullied that they don’t like the bullying and asking them if he can do anything to help.
- A bystander can help by spending time with the person being bullied at school. Simple gestures like talking to them, sitting with them at lunch, or inviting them to play sports or other games during physical education or recess can help a lot.
- They can call the person being bullied at home to provide support, encourage them and give advice.
- Bystanders can try sending a text message or going up to the person who was bullied later. They can let that person know that what happened wasn’t right and that they’re there for them.
Take The Student Who Is Being Bullied Away From The Bullying Situation – Simple Actions Speak Volumes
This is a great tool that is simple, and helps the student who is being bullied while minimizing interaction with the student who is bullying.
- A bystander can offer a way for the person being bullied to leave the scene by saying something like, “Mr. Smith needs to see you right now,” or “Come on, we need you for our game.”
- Remind children to intervene only if it feels safe to do so, and never use violence in order to help the person get away.
Don’t Give Students Who Are Bullying An Audience – Walk Away, Walk Away
If one of your child’s friends or peers begins to bully someone, they shouldn’t encourage the behavior by giving it an audience. Instead of laughing or supporting it, they can let the bully know that such behavior isn’t entertaining.
- Remind them that when they see bullying, they can act disinterested or blatantly state that they don’t think bullying is entertaining or funny.
- Oftentimes, those who bully are encouraged by the attention that they receive from bystanders. Children can help stop bullying by actively not supporting it.
Set A Good Example – The Domino Effect
If a child knows not to bully others, then other students will follow their example. This is the domino effect that we should strive for.
- Make sure children don’t bully others and don’t encourage bullying behavior.
- Encourage them to look for opportunities to contribute to the anti-bullying culture at their school through school clubs and organizations.
- They can create anti-bullying posters, share stories or show presentations promoting respect for all.
- Use tools like the the Box Out Bullying toolkit and activity guide to help older teens work with younger children to prevent bullying.