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Bystanders & Upstanders

Kids and teens who witness bullying and cyberbullying in action can be classified as either an upstander or a bystander. Bystanders are people who don't do anything when they see bullying in action. 

Upstanders-as you have probably guessed- are the opposites of bystanders. When they witness bullying, they react quickly, helping the victim in any means possible. They do what they think is the right thing to do.


Bystanders don't stand up for the person being bullied or tell a teacher about the bully; they just stand there, and don't do anything about the situation. When bullying occurs, there are many people who don't often do anything. They are afraid of retaliation that their clique of friends may exclude them for helping an outsider. When you are a bystander, you are sending a message to the bullies that their behavior is accceptable, which encourages them to continue. 


Whether you are a victim or not, you should always do something about bullying. To prevent becoming a bystander, complete these actions to support the victim : 

-don't laugh

-don't become an 'audience member' for the bullying

-help the victim in any way possible

-include the victim in many activities

-tell an adult

-reach out to the victim and be a friend

-don't encourage the bully

Sometimes, being a bystander is much easier than being a person who stands up for others. It is easier to forget what happened and ignore the event you just witnessed. But think of the event from the victim's point of view. They may feel hurt by the words the bully is saying. A few years ago, my friend made a very mean comment towards one of my classmates. She loathed him because he was sort of odd. One day, she was really annoyed by him, and blurted out, "Nobody likes you" in front of the whole class. He was really embarrassed and nobody said anything including me. Now, I look back, wishing that I had said something because he must have felt really bad by that. The thing is, I was scared that everyone was going to look at me strangely if I stood up for him. I really wanted to say something but my nightmares of my friends excluding me scared me. Later, I grew apart from my friend. She became a really bad influence and I didn't want to be around that type of person anymore. But now, if I ever see someone make that kind of comment, I will speak up because if my friends exclude me for standing up for a victim, they are not good people, and not good friends.


Being an upstander requires determination, courage, and leadership. It is not always easy to become an upstander. They progress from inaction to action. Upstanders are kids, children, teens, and adults who act to prevent or reduce bullying. They show kindness and support. Moving from being a bystander to becoming an upstander may not happen overnight. It may begin by becoming more aware of bullying behavior and how it strongly affects the lives of the victims. Upstanders may feel a sense of anger and injustice regarding the bullying they have just witnessed. Though bystanders may feel this emotion, upstanders are able to see the pain of the victim and take action. 

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