Many parents assume that their children are safe as long as they aren’t active participants of bullying. The reality is much darker, you don’t have to be the aggressor or the victim to feel the pain bullying causes. ‘Bystanders‘ to bullying also feel the pain of bullying.
Studies have shown that students who witness bullying at school experienced increased anxiety and depression, regardless of whether they supported the bully or the person being bullied. Bystanders may experience stress related to fears of retaliation or because they wanted to intervene but didn’t.
Watching another person being bullied can have a big impact on a person. As empathetic beings, we are naturally bothered by witnessing someone else being injured to insulted.
The Bystander Effect
The Bystander Effect happens when a group of people watch a bullying incident and no one responds. If an individual witnesses the incident they are more likely to help the victim. But in a group of three or more, no one single person feels like it is their responsibility to take any action.
In addition, the group may be slow to respond because they are monitoring each other for their reactions. They are attempting to determine if the situation is serious enough and if anyone will step forward. Because no one in the group wants be the first without knowing what the others will do.
This doesn’t mean that you won’t feel guilt afterwards. Bystanders are often plagued with uncertainty – they see the bullying and know that it is wrong by they have no idea what to do.
To learn more about bullying and how to best approach the subject matter with your own children, the following are great resources to dig into.