The Role of a Bystander

iStock_000033293566MediumDid you know that more than 50% of the time, bullying stops within 10 seconds of a bystander stepping in to help? This means that empowering bystanders to take action may be the key to stopping most bullying from happening. Bystanders are considered to be people who observe a situation but don’t get involved. Even though by definition bystanders don’t play much of a role, they still have a very important part when it comes to bullying.

Bystanders are important for the following reasons:

  • Bullying among teens most often takes place in front of their peers.
  • Bullying almost never happens when adults are nearby or watching.
  • Bullies like an audience and base their actions on the reaction or response they get from their victim.

Granted, it may be hard to stand up to a bully since most bystanders rely on others to get involved. However, if every bystander assumed that someone else would step in and do something, a bullying situation could escalate very quickly. However, if you take the initiative and at least try to help the victim or call for help, you will likely feel better knowing that you made a huge difference, and the person being ‘bullied’ will greatly appreciate your support.

Here are a few tips on how to approach a bullying situation (or bully) if you’re a bystander:

  1. Distract the bully to give the victim a chance to remove themselves from the situation.
  2. Stand next to the victim and walk away from the bully together.
  3. Verbally say something to the bully, “This is not funny or cool” and let them know that what they’re doing is wrong.
  4. Let the bully know that many of your peers do not agree with what he/she is doing.
  5. Check up on the victim after school (call or text them).

If you ever feel that standing up to a bully will put you in any danger, then immediately call a trusted adult and/or tell a teacher about the situation (if it happens at school). There is usually something you can do to help stop bullying from taking place!

For more information see “Cyberbullying” and