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Bullying Affects Everyone

The majority of youth do not engage in bullying behaviors and are not victims. Most are witnesses, commonly called bystanders, to bullying behaviors (Salmivalli, 1999). There are several types of bystanders:

The Majority of Youth are Bystanders
  • Assistants (7%) – join bullying
  • Reinforcers (20%) – encourage bullying
  • Onlookers (24%) – watch bullying
  • Defenders (17%) – try to stop bullying
  • Those who have no clear role (13%)

Oftentimes, parents who do not have children that are being bullied tend to see bullying as a problem that is not relevant to them. However, research suggests that youth who witness bullying have negative psychological and physiological distress- similar to victims (Janson & Hazier, 2004). These negative effects include sadness, anxiety, fear, helplessness, anger, and hopelessness. Youth also become desensitized to negative school behaviors and began to lack empathy for those who are being targeted (Garbarino, 2001; Salmivalli, 2010; Ladd & Troop-Gordon, 2003).

It is important to let your child know that no one deserves to be bullied and encourage them to be an ally. An ally is someone who will stand up for others who are victims; it is a person who is courageous enough to speak up against injustice. Helping your child become an ally can empower them in other areas of their life and you never know, your child could be the positive influence that saves another child’s life.

Here are some suggestions that you can give to your child to help them be an effective ally:

  • Talk to adults at school about what they have seen happen to other children.
  • Organize other students to help report when youth are being bullied/harassed (there is safety in numbers).
  • Help them avoid the situation.