Don’t Be A Bystander in School Bullying

ID-100217597Have you ever been bullied in school before? Throughout my childhood, school bullying was never a problem until I reached middle school. I remember being called names and being pushed around by other students. In some situations a fight would break out if the bullying never stopped. According to Bullying Statistics, one in four kids in the United States are bullied on a regular basis. Bullying comes in different forms, from being attacked physically, verbally, emotionally, and/or sexually. When children have access to computers in schools, bullying can take place on the Internet. This is called cyber bullying when kids bully each other using electronic technology. An example of cyber bullying is posting rumors or embarrassing photos on social networking sites. As a leader in Internet safety education, i-Safe America found cyber bullying common with adolescents and teenagers. Whether it is done in person or through technology, bullying has gotten worse in schools resulting in gun violence and suicides. How can we stop this? With the help of bystanders, I believe those who witness bullying can prevent it from getting worse by simply standing up for the victim rather than watching it unfold in from of them.

Bullying in schools has become a serious problem. Students more at risk of being bullied are those who are differentiated and socially isolated from the rest. Bullies attempt to manipulate and control people for a long time. Their bad behavior can negatively impact a child’s life physically and mentally. There are large numbers who deal with depression, anxiety, sadness, and loneliness. Bullying happens inside of schools where crowds are more likely to form. Some say it is because bullies love the attention from other students. They tend to be bystanders who often do nothing about it. Why? It is possibly due to the bystander effect – a phenomenon in which the greater the number of people present, the less likely people to help a person in distress. In an anonymous article, the bystander effect in bullying is defined as not being a person’s job to take action, taking pleasure from the misfortune of another, and the fear of danger. According to the author, “hoping that a bystander will become a hero isn’t a success strategy.” There are times when a bystander is scared to do anything, but it does not mean students should become spectators. Why not tell the teacher or run to the principal’s office and report it. This empowers the bully to stop what he or she is doing once authorities are quickly informed.

Signe Whiston, a child and adolescent therapist, also provides six reasons why bystanders choose not to intervene to stop bullying:

  1. “Someone else will surely step in.”
  2. “If I say anything, he’ll turn on me next!”
  3. “I don’t like what she is doing, but she is still my friend.
  4. “I would say something, but she and I aren’t really friends.”
  5. “You’re asking me to stand out on purpose?”
  6. “I just don’t know what to do to make it stop.”

This clearly shows that bystanders think it is not their responsibility to help. People tend to view the problems of others as not part of their business. Some even find bullying acceptable in teaching discipline; it makes students ready for the real world. There are children who are able to stand up for their self, but not all victims of bullying are able to do that. Bullying should not be part of life, nor does it toughen people up. Victims can face traumatic and psychiatric injuries permanently if left untreated. This is not the kind of life that children need to face when going to school. Whether the bully is your friend or the victim is not your friend, students have to know that nobody deserves to be mistreated. Bystanders need to realize that bullying effects can haunt someone for a lifetime. It saves the victim from a painful experience if people try to intervene at the moment it happens. It is devastating to see when a student gets bullied. As a bystander, it would be regretful to hear news about a student being bullied to death. If witnesses have stepped in, perhaps a tragedy would never happen.

There have been incidents of gun violence involving victims who have been bullied in school. Victims have retaliated in ways no one could have expected. During the 1990s, there were twelve of fifteen shooting cases of the shooter having a history of being bullied. One of the unforgettable events in history was the Columbine High School massacre. There were thirteen people killed and twenty-four injured. Behind the shooting attacks were two teenagers named Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. Bullying became a possible motive where both have been picked on constantly by upperclassman. One altercation involves ketchup being squirted all over them, while teachers watched and students laughed. Recently a boy named Tom Mullaney committed suicide because of cyber bullying. He got into a fight with another boy in school. The incident continued on Facebook when Tom received messages saying, “We know where you live and if you come to school we’ll get you.” The bullying was troublesome in school and at home. Instead of reporting the bullying to authority figures–his parents, teachers, counselor, or principal–Tom wanted it all to go away by hanging himself. Anderson Cooper, a news reporter on CNN mentions, “When bullied children commit suicide, it’s not just tragic, it’s unacceptable. Bystanders fail to intervene, fail to stand up and say enough is enough.” Through education bystanders are able to respond to bullying from getting worse over time.

Kids see bullying everyday. They want to help, but don’t know how. Stop Bullying, a federal government website teaches how to be more than a bystander.

  • Don’t give bullying an audience. Instead of laughing or supporting it, they can let the bully know that such behavior isn’t entertaining.
  • Set a good example. If a child knows not to bully, then other students will follow their example.
  • Help them get away. However they do it, make sure the child knows not put themselves in harm’s way.
  • Tell a trusted adult. An adult can stop bullying by intervening while it’s in progress, stopping it from occurring or simply giving the person bullied a shoulder to lean on.
  • Be their friend. Children can help someone who’s been bullied by simply being nice to them at another time.

Bullying is a serious problem in schools across the United States. The only way to prevent it from happening is through the help of bystanders. Without their support, more children and teenagers will continue to face the dangers of bullying. Children and adolescents put themselves at risk of having emotional and behavioral problems. This unhealthy experience can last from childhood into adulthood, making it difficult to handle. By standing up for the victims of bullying school shootings and suicides will no longer be an issue. Bullying should never be a rite of passage into the real world. It causes pain and suffering that no child should ever go through in life. Students who witness bullying are encouraged to intervene because 55% of bullying behaviors stop in less than 10 seconds when someone steps in.  By educating bystanders about bullying and cyber bullying, witnesses are able to respond and prevent it from happening in the future.

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2 Comments to “Don’t Be A Bystander in School Bullying”

  1. While I do agree that bullying has its negative affects, sometimes it is necessary for children to have to grow up. Now I’m not for bullying at all but with the way society is these days, children are growing up with things just being handed to them. There are no longer winners and losers in school anymore but rather everyone is a winner and no one gets left behind. Thus this is leading to a point in society where these children are just expected to have everything handed to them! That in itself is ridiculous because society is not setting these children up for success after high school but rather for failure! Future bosses aren’t going to be telling them that “It’s ok you were late everyday for the past month, I know you’re trying your hardest to get to work on time.” they would have fired said person the second day if not the first!
    My take on bullying is that yes bystanders need to be doing something other than just standing around but trying to get rid of bullying all together is not what is best for society. Nor am I saying that people need to get bullied in one way or another but rather it does help to SOME extent the development of a child. Teachers and parents do need to be more involved with it rather then say something AFTER a suicide or mass shooting takes place and then point fingers at each other.

  2. I agree that the bystanders should really do something instead of standing around watching the bullying happen. It does help, for the bystander to step in. In a study, researchers observed elementary grade level children (Hawkins et al., 2001) and found that if other children intervened to help the victim, the bullies usually backed off. In fact, having bystanders around watching, it actually seem to encourages the bully.

    So, bystanders everywhere, next time you witness something that you think needs intervention, please intervene. It really does make a difference. Just because there are others around, does not mean that they would necessarily do anything about it. You may think that it’s not your business to get involve but should you require assistant someday, wouldn’t you want someone to step up and help instead of being an observer? So what if there are others around, ignore them. Be the first and step up and aid your fellow citizen.

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