You’re walking down the hall at school, you see a new kid being harassed by some jocks. On Facebook you see a bunch of really mean posts about another girl. You know it’s wrong, but what can you do? If you see bullying, but don’t do anything about it then you’re a bystander. Every year millions of kids are bullied and harassed verbally, physically, emotionally and online. More than half of all students report that they have witnessed bullying at school, are you one of them?
Guess what? There is something you can do! Instead of being a bystander, be an upstander! An upstander is someone who wants to put an end to bullying and takes steps to make the world a safer place. This doesn’t mean you need to step into the middle of a dangerous situation, but it does mean you need to find the courage to do the right thing. What are some things you can do?
- Learn more about bullying – there are awesome resources online and probably at your school.
- Don’t join in. Don’t laugh, encourage or give the bully attention for their bad behavior.
- Help the person being bullied get away (if you can safely). Tell them a teacher is looking for them or use some other excuse to help them leave the situation.
- Tell the bully to stop. Let them know that it isn’t cool.
- Diffuse the situation. Sometimes appropriate use of humor can deescalate a situation and allow everyone to walk away.
- Say something kind to the person being bullied. Maybe you can help their day be a little brighter.
- If you know someone is bullied at a certain time or place, be with them. Bullies are less likely to say or do something if that person isn’t alone.
- Stop gossip. Don’t spread information that is harmful or untrue.
- Tell an adult. Most bullying goes unreported. Including more people can help the problem.
This is a great situation to think about the “Golden Rule”. If you were the one being bullied or harassed what would you hope someone would do to help you? I know this may seem pretty simple, or even childish, but bullying continues to be a serious problem with serious consequences. So don’t stand by, stand up!
October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness month. What can you do to help end bullying in your world? Do you have a story where you or someone you know stopped a bully?