Counselor’s Corner: Barricading Bullying Behaviors

The Bystander’s Dilemma

Who are bystanders? Bystanders are people who witness bullying, either online or in person, and do or say nothing.

Often, bystanders feel very uncomfortable watching a bullying situation unfold. They are confused as to what to do. They fear retaliation from the bully if they try to intervene. They wonder what type of intervention is the safest and best for all.

When we stand by and do nothing, we send a non-verbal message to the bully that we condone the behavior; standing by gives the bully a “pass” to continue the abusive treatment. The victim feels further defeat, ganged up by the group, and hopeless.

So how do bystanders intervene in a safe and constructive way?

  • Do not encourage the bad behavior you see by laughing or participating in the attack
  • Do not stand around and “watch” the incident take place
  • Support the victim in the moment, if you can, or in private at a later time
  • Be a friend to the victim, let him/her join your group
  • Reach out for assistance from trusted adults
  • Do not comment on any online remarks or pictures
  • Unfollow a bully online

For more information, visit Stomp Out Bullying’s website.

Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions at (714) 999-5055, Ext. 1456.

Jill Thomas, MFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Fairmont Private Schools Counselor


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