The Bystander Effect

Image result for bulliesYou may know that I take a special interest in making schools safe for all kids, and especially safe from bullying and abuse. I experienced it when I was younger. So I can relate. That’s why I’m not totally comfortable with an anti-bullying approach to the issue. I think it more important to focus on what we want, not what we don’t want.

Strategies that focus only on condemning the bully and teaching kids to report their abuse to a teacher or other responsible adult miss the point. That approach makes it the responsibility of the person being abused to fix it. I was told that. And all it did was make me feel more alone than ever.

I say we all have a responsibility. And here’s the message I want to send to students:  “Each and every one of you is responsible for the environment and culture you live in.”

When you are a bystander of abusive behavior, you become a part of it. When we stand together as a community and say “that is not behavior we accept,” no one accuses the bully (who is really just another student with issues), but instead, we articulate a standard we hold everyone to.

Recently I discovered a tremendous resource for explaining much better than I the importance of rejecting bystander behavior. It’s so important that each week, I intend to post a new video about how to overcome inaction and create a bystander revolution.

Ever feel yourself hesitate to help when someone is being mistreated? Insights on what is going on from a famous psychologist and founder of the Heroic Imagination Project.

Simple acts of kindness, courage, and inclusion anyone can use to take the power out of bullying.

One reply on “The Bystander Effect”

Went on and watched the first video that popped up on Bystander Revolution. I will be watching many more. Thanks for the observations and the link Michael. Bullying is important, as important as it is to handle it properly, whatever that is. As I believe you express, it is not a one-sized fit all approach. I remember being spit in my face during middle school intramural football by a fellow student who may have been riding his older brother’s aura. Went home, talked to my dad, he put me on a weight lifting regimen in the garage. Never bullied again, nor was anyone around me ever allowed to be bullied. I wonder what my life would have been without that life changing event.


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