This past month we have been talking about bullying and the power of bystanders. A bystander is anyone who knows that bullying is happening. We say there are 2 kinds of bystanders: the kind who don't do anything to stop the bullying, and the kind who stand up and help stop bullying. (The trending word for a helpful bystander is "upstander" - someone who stands up and does something to help!)
The Second Step Bullying Prevention curriculum describes why learning about being a helpful bystander is so important: "One reason students bully is for the effect it has on bystanders. Students can gain social status through bullying by looking tough or cool, making others laugh, or showing that they have power. Because of the power differential in bullying, students have limited ability to make it stop. Because bullying often pays off in social or other ways, it can be hard to change the behavior of students who bullying. But research shows that changing how bystanders react is a powerful way to reduce bullying."
Bystanders have a great deal of power. They have the power to help stop the bullying or the power to make the problem worse. Bystanders can make the problem worse if they join in the bullying, laugh, don't report, and don't tell someone to stop. Bystanders can help make things better if they:
Stand up for the person being bulled and say, "Stop it. That's bullying!"
Report or help report the bullying to a caring adult.
Support others by being kind and including them.
In many cases, a situation only takes ONE bystander to help make a difference. Just imagine if every student was a responsible bystander!