The Bystander

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Role of the Bystander

The bystander is a large part of the bullying cycle. There are no innocent bystanders when it comes to bullying. A 1993 Canadian study found the following information in regards to the bystander in bullying situations on an urban playground;

  • Peers were involved in some cpacity in 85% of bullying
  • Peers reinforced the bullying in 81% of bullying
  • Peers were more respectful and friendly towards the bullies as opposed to the victim
  • Peers were active participants 48% of the time
  • Peers intervened in only 13% of bullying situations

The cycle of bullying seems to created a situation were the victim is alone and according to this study 81% of children didn't instigate bullying but either turned their back on the victim or supported the bully. Those 81% are considered bystanders to bullying.

Why Don't Children Help the Victim?

There are 4 general reasons for this. It's very easy to dismiss these reasons as excuses, but as you'll see one of these reasons relies on adults to teach children how to handle bullying.

  • The bystander is afraid of getting hurt himself
  • The bystander is afraid of becoming the next victim
  • The bystander that intervening will only make things worse
  • The bystander does not know what to do

Empowering the Bystander

Dr. Lickona tells us about some of the characteristics of the bystander as well the role the bystander plays in the bullying cycle.

Bystander video


Pencilcp.png Update your characteristics chart

Pencilcp.pngDiscussion Point Revisit the discussion from the beginning of Module One. Who do you think now plays the biggest role in the bullying cycle? Continue the discussion by answering: What effect does bullying have on the classroom, school and larger community? Do you feel it is something worth addressing or is bullying simply something that has gained too much media attention?

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Return to Module 1 Understanding the Bullying Cycle

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