How to stop bullying: the role of the bystander

By Andrew Hopkins, Canadian Red Cross

Do you forget about the bystander when you think about bullying?

Those who bully, and the people they target, are often the focus on days like Pink Shirt Day or Pink Day. But they’re not the only people who can help end bullying. Bystanders can also make a big difference.

“I witnessed a lot of my peers get bullied,” says Candace Chau, a grade 12 student at Riverside Secondary in Port Coquitlam, B.C. “When I was younger, I wasn’t quite sure how to deal with it.”

Studies show teens are most often bullied in front of their peers. They also show that, 57% of the time, bullying stops within 10 seconds when a bystander steps in1. By taking action, bystanders could help cut bullying behaviour in half.
Candace Chau, a grade 12 student at Riverside Secondary in Port Coquitlam, B.C

Candace Chau, a grade 12 student at Riverside Secondary in Port Coquitlam, B.C., and Beyond the Hurt youth facilitator. /Photo courtesy: Shaw Communications

Now, Candace is a Red Cross Youth Facilitator and helps deliver Beyond the Hurt bullying prevention workshops to younger teens in their classrooms. She gives them tools and strategies to help put a stop to bullying, including what to do as a bystander.

They are messages Candace, along with thousands of other youth facilitators across Canada, work hard to pass along each time they bring Red Cross Beyond the Hurt into classrooms. “I think of all the things I could have done to prevent bullying or action I could have taken to help my peers, if I had been exposed to the Red Cross workshop when I was younger. When you have youth empowering youth, it really clicks in their head and they really take the content to another personal level because they feel that you have been through that as well.”

So, this Feb.22 as we mark Pink Shirt Day (B.C.) and Pink Day (rest of Canada) make nice! Make a promise to step in and help end bullying when you see it. Post your promise on Twitter using #PinkShirtPromise, and Shaw Communications & Coast Capital Savings will donate $1 to support bullying prevention programs like Red Cross’s Beyond the Hurt. Video courtesy: Shaw Communications

1. Wolfe, D.A. & Chiodo, D. (2000). Sexual harassment and related behaviors reported among youth from Grace 9 to Grade 11. Toronto: CAMH Centre for Prevention Science.

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