The Role of the Bystander

A bystander is someone who sees or knows about bullying or other forms of violence that is happening to someone else; they can either be part of the problem (hurtful bystander) or part of the solution (helpful bystander). It's easy to ignore incidents of bullying, or walk away thinking "at least it’s not me".

But believe it or not, by doing nothing you are contributing to the problem — and you may be giving bullies the "okay" to carry on with their behaviour.

Research shows that bystanders can effectively stop bullying within 10 seconds of an intervention — so, what are you waiting for?

Be a Helpful Bystander

We all have a role to play in erasing bullying, and protecting the rights of ourselves and others. You can take a stand against bullying by standing up for someone else — without putting yourself at risk, or becoming a bully yourself.

Bystanders have the power to play a key role in preventing or stopping bullying. Some bystanders directly intervene, by discouraging the bully, defending the victim, or redirecting the situation away from the bully. Other bystanders get help, by rallying support from peers to stand up against bullying, or by reporting the bullying to an adult.

Here are some ways you can become a helpful bystander:

  • Make it clear to your friends that you won’t be involved in bullying behaviour.
  • Never stand by and watch or encourage bullying behaviour. It may not be happening to you — but what if it was?
  • Don’t harass, tease or spread gossip about others — this includes on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Have you ever liked a cruel Facebook post or mean photo about someone else? Think twice — this is just as bad as you posting it.
  • Never forward or respond to messages or photos that might be offensive or upsetting.
  • Support the person who is being bullied to ask for help, or report it. Help them find a trusted adult or show them where they can get help or report the incident.
  • Report bullying to someone you trust (like a teacher, principal, your parents, etc.). If the bullying is serious or you think someone's life or safety is at risk, report it to the police.

Content adapted from humanrights.gov.au/bullying/factsheets/bystander.html and us.reachout.com/facts/factsheet/bystanders-role-in-bullying

If you are having thoughts of suicide or of hurting yourself or others, please reach out immediately for help. Call 9-1-1 (or your local police or authority, if you do not have 9-1-1) or go to your nearest hospital emergency room.

If you are being bullied, feeling alone or just need to talk to someone who will listen, please reach out to a trained volunteer or professional:



Resources for Parents

Read More

Resources for Youth

Read More
Close

Thank you for stopping by to check out the ERASE Bullying online reporting tool. This tool is accessible through computers and smart phones, and will allow students, parents or other witnesses to report bullying or other threatening behaviour, anytime and anywhere.

The online reporting tool has just been developed and is in the final stages of testing.

If you need help, please reach out to someone you trust, like a parent, friend or teacher. Or, you can reach out to someone who doesn’t know you for support. There is a list of youth-oriented support lines and websites on this site just for you.

Close