REPOSTED FROM WTF-WHY TEENS FAIL.COM
Bullying is defined by experts as a threatening or harassing situation that involves (1)a bully, (2) a target and (3) one or more bystanders. Experts have been trying for centuries to prevent bullying by educating the bullies and the targets while largely ignoring the bystanders. But the truth is, while 1 in 4 students report being bullied, nearly all students have witnessed a bullying encounter at some point. With so many students on the sidelines, it makes sense to teach those bystanders how to intervene in a safe and effective manner. The success of the following 3 strategies will depend largely upon your kid’s personality type and which strategy they’re most comfortable using.
- Tell a trusted adult. This strategy has been touted by experts for years and usually only works under the most extreme circumstances. Children report that adult intervention may stop the violence, but it tends to increase ostracization. Kids are keen to point out a snitch or a tattletale. This strategy should be used primarily to intervene when physical harm or threats of violence are suspected.
- Be an “out-in-front” leader. Very few people have this quality. We all know that kid, and have probably wished we were more like him/her. He walks in a room and everyone responds, eagerly hanging on his every word. This kid can say “hey knock it off, that’s not cool” and the bullying will stop because everyone wants to please this person. Most of us can’t pull this off. We either end up making ourselves the bully’s next target or escalating the drama to a higher level. If you have to ask yourself if you are that guy, then you’re not him.
- Be a “behind-the-scenes” leader (BTSL). Even if you’re not an “out-in-front” leader, anyone can be a BTSL. This person wisely waits to intervene until after the heat of the moment has passed (unless someone is being physically harmed). The BTSL can then do one of two things depending on their relationship to the bully and the target. If they’re friendly with the bully, they can take the bully aside privately and say “I like you, but I don’t agree with how you treated so-and-so.” If the BTSL is friendly with the target, they can say in private “I heard what so-and-so said to you, and I just wanted you to know I don’t agree with how they treated you. I think you’re cool.” This can be done in person, by text, or by private message. If using social media, BTSLs should avoid the temptation to make any public comments that could escalate the drama.
Each of these strategies has a time and a place. If there is a threat to harm somebody, a trusted adult should be told every time. If someone is being harmed, everyone should try their hand at being an “out-in-front” leader. Under every circumstance, everyone can and should be a “behind-the-scenes” leader. It might just be the difference between life and death for the chronically bullied and depressed target.
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