Bystander Bullies

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There are numerous debates over what constitutes a bully. How egregious does the act have to be, how frequent, or how damaging?

At my children’s school they have included in the discussion the role of bystanders.  It is an easy call if you join in (which includes passing along cyberspace attacks). You are just as responsible as the initial bully. But what if you see someone being bullied and you laugh?  How responsible are you? You’re laughter could be encouraging the bully and adding injury to the victim.

What if you do nothing?  This is more complicated and difficult for adults because it may be that neither the bully or the victim welcome your involvement.  But if you know someone is being bullied at school, at work, or at home and you don’t want to go there or get involved, say it’s none of my business,  there is nothing I can do, or believe that it’s not that bad and the victim should toughen up and get a back bone, are you a part of that continuing bully cycle?

Is our silence tantamount to approval?  As a friend or a coworker, a teacher or a peer, do we really want to wait until it’s “I wish I would have said something.”


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