Bystanders, the people who watch bullies go after their targets, stand by and allow it to happen. Some bystanders are friends with the bully and quietly agree with their actions. Others want to fit in and are glad it’s not them or feel they don’t have the power to stop the bullies. The truth is, bystanders, hold the real weight with bullying.
Many bystanders are well-liked by their peers because they don’t make waves. They follow the crowd. They conform. Despite all the awareness around bullying, many people don’t change their behavior. They want to fit in, they want to belong, and they don’t want to risk the possibility of conflict or losing their social status. The truth is, bullies, lose their power if the bystanders don’t tolerate their behavior. In a just and fair world, all bystanders would stand up to the bully and defend the target.
There have been situations where the bullying happened in front of me and did nothing about it. I felt my input wouldn’t make a difference, so I stayed quiet. Looking back, I felt like a hypocrite and guilty when I didn’t stand up for someone who was getting picked on, and I know what it feels like to be targeted by a bully. Many people struggle with this internal conflict all the time.
At some point in our lives, we all get scared of the consequences or what other people might think. Yes, organizations encourage more upstanders instead of bystanders. Yes, more people are aware of how bullying affects others, but the social problem remains the same. If you are someone who holds back in the face of injustice, take some time to learn why. Are you saying you don’t have an opinion on it or are you depending on someone else to fix it? Are you just happy you aren’t the one forced to deal with the bully? Are you afraid of the consequences? If so, think about the power these individuals have over you.
I would like to hear about your experience with bystanders. Please comment below.