How to Stop Bullying: Bystanders Who Want to Help But Don’t Want to be Outted as a Tattletale

 

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Last week we addressed one of three reasons why the 85% of students known as bystanders don’t take action towards helping to stop bullying. If you missed the first part about them having the fear of becoming a new victim for a bully, I invite you to take a look at How to Stop Bullying: Bystanders Afraid to Become a New Victim of a Bully. This week we look at a concern that many adults would have in addition to their children.

Let’s address this situation so that your child can have the opportunity to powerfully stand up for their friend or classmate if the situation arises. Being a tattletale or a snitch as a child or adult is frowned upon in any social environment, whether at school, home, or in the workplace, and our human bodies are designed for self preservation first.  There is a distinction that we need to clarify which solves this problem quickly and effectively. Bystanders must learn the distinction of, “In vs. Out”.” If you are walking down the street with your family and you see two bank robbers jump out of their car and run into the bank, what do you do? I hope you said you would call the police or dial 9-1-1. Because of you, the police show up and the bank robbers get arrested and go to jail. My question to you is…are you tattling on the robbers? In my Breaking the Bullying Circle School Assembly Program I ask kids this exact question. The responses are typically “No. It’s not tattling because the robbers are doing something bad.” Next question for you…Is it more important to get the bank robbers in trouble or is it more important to get the people in the bank out of trouble? When given a choice most children responded “get the people in the bank out of trouble.” What did you say?

When you are trying to get someone in trouble, like telling on someone, then you are tattling and that isn’t showing respect. And if your child’s friend, or someone they know in school, is getting bullied and they try to get them OUT of trouble, then they are being a hero. Just like you would be a hero if you called the police to help stop the bank robbers. Now remember that you and the police are a team when you work together to stop the bank robbers. If you didn’t call them, they never would have come. Give your child a few examples and having them decide whether they are tattling or being a hero. Teamwork and being a hero go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Photo by Denise Krebs

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