This week is Anti-Bullying Week and I’ve seen a lot on social media today of schools campaigning about bullying. There’s a “Wear Blue Day” and an “Odd Socks Day” all to raise awareness of bullying. We wanted to focus on being an active bystander this year. A bystander will just witness a situation of bullying, but an active bystander will step in or speak up to stop the situation. Being an active bystander doesn’t only have to apply to times of bullying; you can think about times when you might witness harassment as well.
How to be an active bystander
There’s all sorts of ways to be an active bystander. It might be that a friend keeps making inappropriate comments in the group, or a stranger is harassing someone outside a club. Different situations may call for different ways to intervene. A disapproving look can sometimes be the best way to show comments aren’t appreciated or sometimes challenging it there and then is best. You might not feel comfortable intervening directly, so that is the time that you can talk to someone else. Asking a friend, bouncer, or even the police for help can all be ways to stop bullying or harassment. Research shows that active bystanders are an effective way of stopping assault before it happens.
How to stay safe as an active bystander
Assessing the situation so that you can intervene safely is really important. Sometimes it’s safer to intervene in a group or ask someone with authority to do so instead. There are 4 easy ways that you can intervene safely:
- The first is by direct action; calmly telling the perpetrator that their behaviour isn’t OK.
- You can also distract the perpetrator to give the victim a chance to get out of the situation. This gives you the chance to care for the victim.
- If you’re uncomfortable intervening, then delegate. Staff, bouncers, and the police can all act in this situation.
- You can also delay. If the situation is too dangerous for you to intervene, wait for the situation to pass, and then check the victim is they’re OK and help to report it.
Caring for someone as an active bystander
It's really important to stay calm if you are intervening. The most important person there is the victim, who we need to make sure is OK. Talk to them and direct them to where they can receive support.
If you would like more information about dealing with bullying or if you require further support, please contact our Student Services team.