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Bystanders, Do Something Please!

I just had a conversation the other day with a school administrator on how to help students create an atmosphere of social justice. The age-old question is “how do we as educators and parents help students to not just be bystanders when they see or hear an incident occurring?”

If we can remind our kids this one simple buzz word, “SAFETY.” Safety always comes first, no matter what or where. This is the first step in creating a culture of safety in any community as well as creating a culture of kindness. When violence or threats are taking place, everyone’s safety is at stake. Not just the targeted person, but those in the surrounding vicinity. Taking action means calling for help immediately without hesitation. I always say “DON’T BE THE AUDIENCE FOR THE BULLY.” That’s the power that the perpetrator craves and thrives off of, and watching without doing or saying anything will only make matters worse.

We need to also explain the difference between plain old drama versus bullying. Everyone deals with social problems or difficulties at some point in their life. But, there’s a huge distinction between typical teenage drama and being socially, verbally or physically aggressive. Any harmful behavior can lead to serious implications, and this could lead to violence or something tragic happening.

When parents say to their kids, “stay out of it” or “don’t get involved”, they’re only exacerbating the bullying problems without realizing it. Teaching our kids to be a stand up person doesn’t mean meddling in someone’s business. It means you care. You’re involved because you care. You’re reporting. You’re NOT tattling. Big difference.

To reduce bullying, being a bystander needs to stop. Being the audience for the bully, posting cruel comments or pictures on social media is wrong. Posting inappropriate videos to gain social status is wrong. Knowing that an action is harmful and speaking up is only the beginning for positive changes to occur. It’s about teaching our kids to do the right thing. Be involved. Be caring. Be safe. Speak up. Stand up. Let’s help teach our kids how to stop social cruelty.

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