A bystander is a witness, in this case, a witness to bullying, someone who sees another person getting physically, socially or verbally intimidated. A bystander is commonly seen as a fly on the wall, an observer helpless to step in. A bystander has just as big a role as the Bully and the Victim.
They can do one of three things:
1. Stand up for the Victim
2. Help the Bully
3. Do nothing
When teaching courses in classrooms I follow this statement up with one question, “Which one are you?” Most of us do nothing when our friend or a classmate is being bullied, they stand idle and watch. Doing nothing as a bystander helps the bully. The bully wants to draw attention to the situation and have people watch, by standing in the audience, we are helping. This statement is unsettling.
The eager students will shout out, “You need to help them!” The majority of bullying is uprooted when a bystander steps in. All it takes is one person to stand next to the victim, and the bully will turn away. It’s our jobs as parents and older siblings to teach the young to stand up for one another. We can all stand up against Bullying.
There are a few strategies bystanders can use to help out the Victim, but not put themselves under the bully’s foot:
1. One of the best ways to help is inviting someone to be in your group. If you see someone who is sitting by themselves at lunch ask them to join you and your friends. If your teacher asks the group to pair up and there’s an odd person out, have them join your group.
2. Another great way to help out the target is making a distraction. If you see someone getting bullied you can pretend you don’t even know what’s going on and run up to the target and make an excuse to get them out of there:
“Hey Karen, Mrs. Smith is looking for you, she’s in her office.”
“Paul, where have you been, I need that book I lent you. Let’s go to your locker.”
I see Karate as anti-bully training. It teaches you supreme confidence and the ability to assert yourself and stands strong for what you believe in. Remember, Parents, teachers and Sensei’s are excellent people to talk to. They are your support system and can give you advice. It is your job to stand strong.
Sensei Carrie Percival – Brampton Manager – Third Degree Black Belt– Brampton Academy of Martial Arts