Question: We would love to learn more about the Bystander - what can my child do if they witness Bullying? And what if your child is being bullied - how do you help them know if it 'is' bullying - vs. someone just making a bad choice/having a bad day (is there a good way to help kids understand that not every 'mean' act is bullying -that it could be something else)? Any resolution techniques for kids?
ANSWER (4 Villages Says): Here are some ways to help stop bullying when you see it: (From Kids Help Phone)
Speak up. Examples of things you can say include:
• “A teacher is coming!” (Even if this isn’t true, it can create a distraction that breaks up the bullying situation.)
• “That’s mean!” (If you show disapproval others are likely to agree with you.)
• “Stop – you’re going to get in trouble!” (Reminding the person that what they are doing is against school rules can be a good discouragement.)
• “Why is everyone standing around watching this? Let’s leave!” (Bullying behaviour is reinforced by those who passively watch, so ask others to leave with you.)
Provide an escape for the person being bullied. For example:
• “Let’s get out of here.” (Inviting the person to leave with you is a powerful way to show support and provide an escape from the situation.)
• “Mrs Carter has been looking for you. She wants you to go see her.” (Inventing a reason why the person being bullied needs to leave is another good way to help them get out of harm's way.)
Other ways you can help:
• If you feel safe, talk to the person who is bullying privately, and ask them what's going on. Let them know you’re aware of the bullying and that it's not OK.
• If you see someone being bullied on their Facebook wall or other online space, leave a message saying that you think comments like that aren't OK.
• Tell a teacher, administrator, or other adult you trust if you are afraid for your safety or someone else’s. It’s not tattling if you’re trying to keep someone safe. If someone is being physically harmed, you can call the police or 911.
• Support the person being bullied after the situation is over. For example, you can ask them how they're doing, or remind them that it wasn't their fault.
Here are some things to keep in mind about bullying:
• 87% of Canadian students in Grades 8-10 reported witnessing school bullying in the past year.
• 60% of the time, bullying stops in less than 10 seconds when bystanders intervene.
• Bullying makes everyone in a school or community feel less safe.
• Effects of bullying on bystanders can include depression, anxiety, changes in sleep patterns, and loss of interest in friends, family, and hobbies. The more severe the bullying, the more severe the effect on witnesses, too.