It takes a village to raise a child.
Experts agree that bullying is a serious issue. It involves not only the bully and the victim, but also all the children who are aware that bullying is occurring but are not directly involved with the situation. What is the responsibility of these “bystanders”? It takes a confident child to stand up to a bully when they witness one in action. I asked two experts about the role and responsibility of the bystander and they said a sense of community coupled with strong role models seem to be an effective strategy to help the bystander take action.
Susan Robison, a local psychologist for adolescents says, “Kids need to get the message from role models such as teachers, administrators, parents, etc. that bullying will not be tolerated, and that it is safe to discuss bullying with us.” She continues, “If youth are held to a high standard of bringing bullying to the attention of an authority figure, and are given full anonymity to do so, they are much more likely to disclose these events, especially if they are praised by authority for doing so.”
Margaret Preston, a psychotherapist with offices in Erdenheim, PA, agrees. She says, “educate these youngsters to be on the alert for bullying and inform them of several options that may be reasonable such as, reporting the bullying to a parent or a teacher, befriending the victim, and building support networks around the victim. [There is] strength in numbers.”
Parents need to instill in their children that bullying will never be tolerated and open a dialogue about what role they both can play in a bullying situation. Parents also need to get involved in any anti-bullying programs their schools might initiate. Adults play a vital role in empowering the bystander. It’s all part of the “village” that helps to end bullying.
by Claire Gawinowicz, Certified Parenting Educator