DARE TO DREAM BIG!: Bullying and The Missing Link

October is National Bullying Prevention Month and we’ll be devoting our October Posts to the problem of bullying!


The Importance of the Bystander

 Bullying situations usually involve more than the bully and the victim. They also involve bystanders—those who are also present during the bullying but are neither the bullies nor the bullies’ targets.

An important strategy for bullying prevention focuses on the powerful role of the bystander. Depending on how bystanders respond, they can either contribute to the problem or to the solution.

During my school visits, I always stressed the importance of the role of the bystander in a bullying situation, and we role-played various bullying scenarios with the bystander taking different roles.

Sometimes the bystander would encourage the bullying by urging the bully on, sometimes the bystander would join the bully once the bullying had begun, sometimes the bystander would just watch and do nothing, and sometimes the bystander would intervene and support the bully’s target.

During our discussions following the role-playing of the various bullying scenarios, we then explored how the different roles of the bystander affected the bullying situation.

What we always concluded was that the bystander’s role was a powerful role. The bystander could facilitate the bullying via his/her acceptance of the bulling or his/her passivity (which implied acceptance of the bully’s behavior) or he/she could discourage the bullying by defending the victim or redirecting the situation away from the bullying.

There are many reasons the bystander may not intervene, but bystanders can and do make a difference! Research has shown that more than half the time, bullying ceases when a bystander steps in to help, so let’s prepare our children to become active rather than passive bystanders—active bystanders who do something to discourage the bullying and support the bully’s victim.

 Dateline: Dr. Michele Borba and the Role of the Bystander


 Something to Think about: Have you ever been a bystander during a bullying situation? If so, what did you do? What would you do now?


“The time is always right to do what is right.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Willoughby and I thank you for dropping by and hope you’ll be back next week for some more thoughts about bullying as we continue to encourage you to DARE TO DREAM BIG!

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20 replies
  1. Mary Firmin
    Mary Firmin says:

    Every time I tweet this information about bullying I always seem to get a lot of Re-tweets from people with thousands of followers. The word is getting out and people really care about this issue. Keep yp the good work, Sandy. You are amazing! Mary Firmin, author Deadly Pleasures

  2. Micki Peluso
    Micki Peluso says:

    Sandy, I agree that this one thing might be the major deterrent to bullying. One problem is that bullies are often the popular kids and bystanders don’t want to get on the wrong side of those kids and become bullied themselves. But It can over time change this whole repetiive cycle and perhaps end bullying once and for all.
    I admire your work and what you do so tirelessly for the betterment of our children. I wish I could find a way to help people the way you do.

    • Sandra
      Sandra says:

      Micki, one of the things I found when I was researching the whole bullying issue is that bullies are frequently the most popular kids in terms of power, but frequently they are not really well liked by the other kids.
      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  3. Malika
    Malika says:

    Wow that was odd. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyways, just wanted to say superb blog!

  4. Darcia Helle
    Darcia Helle says:

    This is an important message, Sandy. Thank you for bringing it to everyone’s attention.

    It’s not just with kids, either. Bystanders play a big role in adult bullying, as well. Too many people stand by passively. We need to stand up for one another.

      • Olyn Warfield
        Olyn Warfield says:

        I have to admit I hadn’t thought about the bystander’s roll. You’re absolutely right Sandy. Adult to adult situations might be risky but bullying generally starts at a pretty young age. Just a few words sometimes can teach proper, and unacceptable, behavior.

        Keep up the good work!

        • Sandra
          Sandra says:

          The bystander’s role is extremely important and I’m so glad that educators and parents are beginning to realize this. Thanks so much for stopping by, Olyn!

  5. Sandra Nachlinger
    Sandra Nachlinger says:

    What an important message. I shared the link to your post on Twitter and posted links on my Facebook page too. Hopefully, at least one person will see this information and be helped by it. Keep up the good work, Sandra.

  6. Deirdre Tolhurst
    Deirdre Tolhurst says:

    That was excellent, a fine example of what children SHOULD do to help each other. I hope this is seen in schools and role playing is used so that the children will feel safe and comfortable in helping someone else who was bullied. Thanks, Sandy!

    • Sandra
      Sandra says:

      I loved role-playing with the students and the teachers always felt it helped the kids really “feel” what it was like to be the bully’s victim. Thanks for dropping by!


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