We are wrapping up this month’s Anti-bullying blog series from the perspective of the friend. We often believe that it is almost as bad to witness bullying and not do anything about it. But if you ask a child, intervening is easier said than done. Many children who witness bullying may be too frightened themselves to intervene or scared for their own wellbeing. So, for those students who don’t like confrontation, how else can you help your friend or a classmate who you notice is being bullied?
There are a few steps that students and parents can work through if instances of bullying take place. This set refers to a situation in which bullying is currently occurring, be it in real life, over the internet or social media.
Step 1: If the victim is in real danger, of course help them if it safe to do so. But if they seem to be dealing with it well, the best option is not to watch. Bullies tend to want an audience, so stick around incase your friend needs you, but do not actively stare at what is going on. Or, if you can, take them away from the situation.
Step 2: Stop any rumours you may hear – There is a tendency to feed gossip that goes around the school yard, if you are passing it on to someone else, you are partly responsible for fuelling the bullying. If you hear something, stop it in it’s tracks. Call it untrue if you know it is untrue and help your friend or peer break the gossiping cycle.
Step 3: Reassure you friend that it will get better – Time heals most, if not all wounds.
Step 4: Be a supportive friend and encourage them to seek help if the bullying is becoming consistent and is troubling for the friend.
Step 5: Ensure they are safe – Sometimes this means you have to make a decision to tell an adult if you feel that the bullying has put them in an unsafe situation, this can also mean that it is becoming harmful to their mental health, not just physical. Sometimes making a tough decision is the difference between your friend coming back strong and your friend breaking down.
If you are unsure about whether someone is being bullied or not, try empathy. Put yourself in their shoes and see how you would feel on the receiving end. If you would feel sad or hurt, there is a good chance that the friend or peer is being bullied.