October is National Bullying Prevention Month and we’ll be devoting our October Posts to the problem of bullying!
The Importance of the Bystander
Bullying situations usually involve more than the bully and the victim. They also involve bystanders—those who are also present during the bullying but are neither the bullies nor the bullies’ targets.
An important strategy for bullying prevention focuses on the powerful role of the bystander. Depending on how bystanders respond, they can either contribute to the problem or to the solution.
During my school visits, I always stressed the importance of the role of the bystander in a bullying situation, and we role-played various bullying scenarios with the bystander taking different roles.
Sometimes the bystander would encourage the bullying by urging the bully on, sometimes the bystander would join the bully once the bullying had begun, sometimes the bystander would just watch and do nothing, and sometimes the bystander would intervene and support the bully’s target.
During our discussions following the role-playing of the various bullying scenarios, we then explored how the different roles of the bystander affected the bullying situation.
What we always concluded was that the bystander’s role was a powerful role. The bystander could facilitate the bullying via his/her acceptance of the bulling or his/her passivity (which implied acceptance of the bully’s behavior) or he/she could discourage the bullying by defending the victim or redirecting the situation away from the bullying.
There are many reasons the bystander may not intervene, but bystanders can and do make a difference! Research has shown that more than half the time, bullying ceases when a bystander steps in to help, so let’s prepare our children to become active rather than passive bystanders—active bystanders who do something to discourage the bullying and support the bully’s victim.
Dateline: Dr. Michele Borba and the Role of the Bystander
Something to Think about: Have you ever been a bystander during a bullying situation? If so, what did you do? What would you do now?
“The time is always right to do what is right.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Willoughby and I thank you for dropping by and hope you’ll be back next week for some more thoughts about bullying as we continue to encourage you to DARE TO DREAM BIG!
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