It is commonly thought that the bullying game is run by two main players, the bully and the victim. However, there are many other players taking part in this game. Understanding the role of the other players can greatly change the dynamic of the bullying act. Their weaknesses are not obvious, so they are not easy targets, but do they defend the weak? Encourage the bully? Do nothing?
As a group, the kids who are watching an act of bullying are called “Bystanders”. Research studies claim that in 85% of the situations, there are other kids witnessing an act of bullying. Most bystanders feel very uncomfortable with the bullying, but do not intervene for different reasons. As a parent reading this, you probably say to yourself, “I’d rather my kid leave the scene and not get into extra trouble”. Well, this is very wise, but more often than not, bystanders leave without getting the help of anyone else.
Statistically, 57% of the times, when another child intervenes, the bullying stops within seconds! So bullying bystanders have lots of power. They just do not know it. The main problem is not that they do not help the victims. It is that they help the bully by being an audience for his act of power.
Types of bullying bystanders
There are different types of bullying bystanders:
- Ringleaders are kids in power that orchestrate a bullying act by using their social position. They do not bully directly but use a weakness of a bully to gain power over other weak kids.
- Associates are kids who actively join in the bullying. It could be because they are afraid of the bully or the ringleader, but they will not initiate a bully act themselves. In some strange way, they are some kind of victims too.
- Reinforcers are kids who do not bully directly but give feedback to the bully by commenting, smiling or laughing. Again, these kids do not initiate an act of bullying towards other kids, but boost the bully’s confidence with their behavior by being a supportive audience.
- Outsiders are kids who are on the victim’s side but keep quiet when watching an act of bullying. They are afraid of the bully, so they say and do nothing in order to avoid drawing any attention to themselves.
- Defenders are rare kids who actively try to stop the bully and comfort the bullied victim.
Most of the kids in the bullying game are bystanders. Here are the reasons they are involved:
- The bully is their friend
- They do not like the victim
- Telling on a bully is tattling or dobbing and they are fearful for their social reputation
- They are afraid that not supporting the bully will make them the next target
- They are afraid that supporting the victim will show their weakness and attract undesired attention to them
Many parents are so happy their kids are not bullies or being bullied they do not support the other participants in the bullying “game”, but by doing nothing, they risk that when something happens to their own children, no one else will come to defend them.
It is our social responsibility to help those who are weak, because we will probably be weak one day and need the support of others. Supporting bullying bystanders can make a huge difference to the bullies and to the bullied victims and may help change the course of this disturbing trend.
Again, when one of the other players defends the victim, 57% of bullying acts end within 10 seconds. When the defender gets outside help, a third of the bullying acts stop as soon as an adult intervenes.
The problem is that we do not have many defenders, but with the right guidance, we can give our kids skills and power to stand up and be a voice for the weak.
Join me next week for the discussion about the home of the bully. Hopefully, it will help you reflect and make sure that you parent your kids in a way that will minimize their chances of being bullies.
This post is part of the series Bullying:
- Bullying Facts and Myth
- Bullying Statistics are Scary
- What is NOT Bullying?
- Types of Bullying
- Why Do People Bully?
- Victims of Bullying
- Bullying Bystanders
- Home of the bully
- Home of the bully (2)
- Workplace Bullying
- Workplace Bullying (2)
- How to Help Bullying Victims
- How to Help Bullying Victims (2)
- How to Help Bullying Victims (3)
- How to Help Bullying Victims (4)
- How to Help Bullying Bystanders
- How to Help Bullying Bystanders (2)
- How to Stop Workplace Bullying
- How to Stop Workplace Bullying (2)
- How Workplace Bullying Bystanders Can Break the Cycle
- How Organizations Can Stop Bullying
- How Organizations Can Stop Bullying (2)
- Bully Parents
- How to Stop Parental Bullying
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (2)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (3)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (4)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (5)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (6)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (7)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (8)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (9)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (10)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (11)
- How to Stop Bullying with Empathy: The Story of Two Apples