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Don’t Just Stand By

Published: October 19, 2016

  • You hear one student call another by an ugly racial slur
  • You see several students trip and shove a student they think is gay
  • You receive a tweet that describes a female student’s body with sexually shaming language

What should you do? 

Don’t stand back and hope someone else will take care of it. The bullies may believe that everyone watching is on their side. You could be part of the problem if you don’t step up.

If you don’t feel safe confronting the situation on your own, get some others to help you.

Stay cool.  Treat everyone as a friend.  Don’t yell or threaten. You could say “Is everything OK here?” or “You should really stop and think about what you are doing to this person.”

Use your body language to make your point. Stand next to the person being bullied or step between the two parties if you are comfortable doing so and it seems safe.  Sometimes all you need to do is bear witness.

Try to shift attention away from the person being bullied.  Make a joke, “accidentally” spill your drink, or even just change the subject.

Sometimes it is uncomfortable or even dangerous to become involved in the moment someone is being bullied or harassed.  Don’t put yourself at risk. Be aware of your surroundings. If the situation seems dangerous, call 911.

If you witness bullying but don’t (or can’t) speak up at the time, you can do something later by asking the person who was bullied if they are okay.  You can even let them know that you can help them find support by talking to a trusted adult.  This simple act of kindness and understanding can really help.


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