What Can Bystanders Do?
Even if kids are not bullied or bullying others they can be affected by bullying. Many times, when they see bullying, they may not know what to do to stop it. They may not feel safe stepping in in the moment, but there are many other steps they can take:
- Spend time with the person being bullied at school. Talk with them, sit with them at lunch, or play with them at recess.
- Listen to them.Call the person being bullied at home to encourage them and give advice.
- Tell an adult who you trust, like your teacher or coach. You can tell them in person or leave them a note.
- Set a good example. Do not bully others.
- Send a text message or go up to the person who was bullied later and say that wasn’t cool and I’m here for you.
- Help the person being bullied get away from the situation.
- Help the person being bullied tell an adult.
- Take away the audience by choosing not to watch and walk away.
- Be kind to the person being bullied at another time.
- Tell the person being bullied that you don’t like the bullying and ask them if you can do anything to help.
- Tell the child doing the bullying that you don’t like it and to stop doing it (but only if it feels safe to do so).
- Distract the bully or offer an escape for the target by saying something like, “Mr. Smith needs to see you right now” or “Come on, we need you for our game” (but only if it feels safe to do so).
- Don’t combat violence with violence. It takes a lot of courage for someone to step up on behalf of a bullied person. However, don’t use insults or physical violence to defend the victim. Now is not the time to show off. You will most likely only make it harder for the victim.
- Do not get discouraged if you have already talked to the teachers and nothing happened. Keep trying. Teachers and other school authorities will respond if they find out that the bullying is becoming a recurrent problem. Try talking to other teachers and counselors so that you can get more people involved in trying to stop the situation.
- If you feel that this is none of your business, put yourself in the victim’s shoes. Bullying can cause severe anxiety, depression, anger, and frustration in a person, and can turn their life into a nightmare. You wouldn’t want to feel that way.
- Look for opportunities to contribute to the anti-bullying culture of your school through creating posters, stories or films.