Be More Than a Bystander


WHY THIS MATTERS If your child is witnessing bullying, even if they’re not the ones who are the target, they’re learning some very difficult lessons.  And they’re likely to suffer as well if they’re in an environment where bullying is not being effectively addressed. KEVIN EPLING: I think it’s important for parents to be involved in what we call an “anti-bullying movement,” even if it’s not their own child.  Because when you start looking at the much larger picture, we’re talking about overall school safety.  DR. ELIZA BYARD: Every parent, I think, has this nightmare scenario of what can happen.  And every child has the nightmare scenario.  Being in that circle of people, you’re getting picked on, and nobody’s doing anything about it. Everyone’s just watching what happens. Bystanders, the people who see what’s going on but let it happen, actually give power to the bully by sending this very silent, difficult message that nothing’s going to happen.  No one’s going to help.  AKIL PATTERSON: You go into a program, or you’re working with a group of kids, and you get that one guy who just doesn’t get it. He has to be the show. He’s gotta be the man.  And while he’s being the man, he’s also being insulting, he’s being derogative towards people’s religious backgrounds, their personal backgrounds.  And he just really doesn’t get the concept.  And so when you’re sitting back and you’re watching it as a bystander and not acting, that’s when it can bother other people around you.  HOPE SANDERS: Definitely, walking away would be the first point.  Showing people that you’re not interested, you don’t accept the actions being taken.  I mean, bullies, they really feed off of the energy they get.  If they hear people laugh at one joke they make, they’re going to keep making them to get the laughs.  And if you show them that it’s not appreciated, then eventually they’re going to realize that what they’re doing is not acceptable.  LINDSAY FOSHEE: Just, like I said, put your insecurities aside and stand up for people because in the long run it won’t matter who’s making fun of you, and who’s doing this and that.  It just matters that your helping somebody and you’re being there for somebody.  And you might be saving their life even. DR. ELIZA BYARD: If your child is a bystander, and then takes the step to get involved, and actually helps to solve the problem, that is an unbelievably good feeling and a source of great power for your child.  To know that they were able to play a role and help somebody, and actually see results in terms of how their school community interacts. If you can help your child get to that place, to be able to step up in ways big and small, small is important too, it will mean a lot to them.  So the work is worth it in terms of the outcome for your own child, as well as the good it can do for the community as a whole.

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