As your children progress through school, they are going to be observing and processing a lot of information both inside and outside of the classroom. If your child is lucky enough not to be a victim of a bully, then that is a win for them. However, just like in adulthood, bullies and victims do exist and the bystander can be the one that helps eliminate bullying.
A bystander is a person (or persons) who is present at an event without participating in it. They are the most ignored and underused resource in our schools. Bystanders are typically about 85% of a schools’ population, at any given time, but they can become desensitized over time to what is happening right in front of them.
We would like to think that our children are strong and stand up for their friends or even strangers because those are traits that we can be proud of. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Children who are bystanders often do not get involved because of three things:
- Fear of becoming a new victim for the bully
- Being outted by other peers as a tattletale
- Getting in trouble themselves
I will address each of these situations, with an effective solution, in separate articles. Let’s start with the fear factor.
Fear of becoming a new victim for the bully
This fear is easily understandable and 100% a legitimate concern if a child is discovered by a bully to be the one that had them get in trouble. If you saw a bank being robbed and you had your cell phone on you, would you call the police in front of the bank robbers so that they could identify you or would you call the police somewhere where the bank robbers couldn’t see you? I assume you would make the phone call from a hidden and secure location to protect yourself, first and foremost. That would also be the ideal situation if a child sees another child getting bullied and reports it to a teacher. Unfortunately, not every single teacher is trained in specific bullying prevention techniques and might say to the child that they would like them to show them where the bullying is happening. If the child walks the teacher to the bully, all that will happen is the bully will lie, the current victim will be too afraid to admit they are getting bullied, and the child that was brave enough to stand up for the victim will now become the bully’s next victim; and will never stand up for another friend again. When I do my school assemblies, I instruct children to say to that teacher, “No. I do not want to be the bully’s next victim.” And then go find another adult to tell them where the bullying is happening. This may not be a popular choice with the teacher, but it is the best choice to keep a powerful and empathetic child safe so they may help others again. You may want to share this with your child or forward this to another caring parent.
Until next week…
Photo by Twentyfour Students