Bullying usually happens in front of an audience. This could be in front of a large crowd gathered in the school playground or just a couple of friends in a group chat. These onlookers – or ‘bystanders’ – can have a huge impact on how things turn out for the person being bullied.
As a bystander, you can choose to take a few different paths:
4. You can become an Upstander – someone who tries to help and support the person being bullied.
This is why option 4 is so important, every time:
Standing up to bullying is so important and can make a big difference
Research shows that when someone steps in and stands up to bullying behaviour, it is more likely to stop straight away. As the majority of people agree that bullying behaviour is wrong, it is likely that your friends feel just as uncomfortable about the bullying as you do. If you’re worried about being the first one to step in, you could talk to a trusted friend and make sure you have their support. By taking the lead, you’ll be setting an excellent example and making it much easier for everyone else to be an Upstander as well.
Bullying has many serious effects on a person
Being bullied can have devastating effects on a person and can cause feelings of isolation, fear, confusion, stress and embarrassment. Bullying can also cause anxiety and depression and may lead to a person feeling disconnected from school/work, losing their confidence and self-esteem, becoming socially withdrawn. In extreme cases, those who are bullied have a higher risk of self-harm and/or suicide.
If you’re afraid, imagine how the person being bullied must feel
It’s normal to feel worried and scared about stepping in to stop an incident of bullying. No one wants to get hurt or have the bully turn on them. But try to imagine what it’s like to be the person who’s being bullied. If you feel to worried to step in and stop the bullying while it’s happening, it’s best to walk away and think about what you can do to help. They’re probably feeling really hurt and frightened. If you’re not comfortable stepping in when the bullying is happening, you could contact the person being bullied later and show them some support – be a friend to them
Stepping in will help keep your friendship group aware
A solid friendship group will always have each others’ backs. That means being an Upstander when one of your friends is being bullied, but it also means pulling them up if they’re bullying someone else. This might not be a nice thing to have to do, but just because someone is your friend, it doesn’t make it okay for them to bullying someone.
It’s normal to be concerned about a friend who is bullying someone else. Their behaviour could be a sign that they’re not in a good place. If you’re not comfortable speaking to them about it face-to-face, send a message to let them know you’re worried about them. Bullying always last longer if there’s an audience, even if no one is joining in directly. The same rule applies online. Don’t ‘share’ or ‘like’ posts that are displaying bullying behaviour towards another person. Instead, remove yourself from the situation and say something to the person who’s doing the bullying later on. You can do this via text message or DM, if you don’t want to speak to them face to face.
Upstanders are courageous and compassionate and believe in doing something about the issue of bullying. They lead by example and help others to recognise ways to get along and be supportive and kind to each other. Putting an end to bullying is everyone’s responsibility. When we work together and speak out against bullying, we are creating communities that are stronger, safer and more supportive – places where every person is valued for who they are.