If You See Bullying Happening
Most teens agree that they are against bullying, but many do not know what to do about it. Here we will show you what to do when you see verbal bullying happening.
Remember: A bystander is anyone who has witnessed, read about, or heard about someone being bullied.
Whether you see verbal bullying or hear about it later, you are a bystander. It can be easy for bystanders to join in on verbal bullying because it can be passed off as teasing or a joke. Snickering, commenting, or sitting in silence are all actions that tell bullies what they are doing is okay.
Ways that teens support verbal bullying:
- Laughing and giggling
- Verbally encouraging the bully
- Staring at the victim
- Doing nothing (when you see bullying and do nothing about it, the bully assumes you are okay with or even support what they are doing)
You might be supporting bullying:
- Laughing or giggling
- Ignoring the situation
- Gossiping about it
- Verbally encouraging the bully
- Doing nothing
As a bystander you have a choice to take action when you see verbal bullying. Now that you know what verbal bullying is and the different ways people use words to put others down, you can change your behavior from encouraging the bully to helping the victim.
Below are specific actions you can take when you see verbal bullying.
Not all of these ideas may work best for you. Choose actions you are most comfortable doing.
What to do when you see verbal bullying:
Stand up to the bully.
Responding in a confident and assertive, but not aggressive way to the bully shows that you do not agree with what they are doing.
- Tell the bully to stop.
- Tell them what they are doing is bullying or harassment.
- Tell them it's not funny and that it's mean and hurtful.
- Click here to learn how to use a comeback line (DOC).
Reach out to the victim while she is being verbally bullied. This will show her that not everyone is against her.
- Ask if she is okay.
- Disagree with the bully or give the victim a positive compliment.
- Ask if you should get help.
- Say something to get the victim away from the situation such as "This isn't worth your time, let's get out of here."
Tell others to not join in on the bullying.
You can make a difference by encouraging others to not get involved in the bullying.
- When you talk to other bystanders use their names and look directly at them.
- If they are laughing and encouraging the bully tell them to stop.
Here are examples of how Samantha might respond as a bystander.
Think you know?
The following questions will add to your understanding of what to do when you see someone being verbally bullied. Work by yourself or with a friend and try to come up with answers on your own before looking at our answers.
Questions about the video:
How and why does Samantha reinforce the bullying at first?
- She laughs and stares at Rachel while it’s happening.
- She does nothing to stop the bullying from happening.
- She verbally encourages Kelly by saying that Kelly is “just kidding.”
How does Samantha telling Emma, another bystander, to “Stop laughing” help Rachel?
- It stops Emma from supporting the bullying.
- It makes the other bystanders around Kelly stop laughing.
- It makes Kelly think twice about what she is doing.
- Rachel realizes that not everyone in the class is against her.
Other things to think about:
Are there actions Samantha takes that you feel comfortable doing if you see someone being verbally bullied? What are they?
Think about when Samantha stood up to Kelly. What did you think about Samantha? Did you like her more? Why or why not?
It has been shown that bystanders who stand up to bullying are:
- Viewed as more popular.
- More likely to be treated better by other peers.
- Bullied less often.
- A positive influence on others.
Why do girls use “just kidding”? Are there times it is okay to use it? Are there times when it is not okay?
When a bully says “just kidding” it takes the spotlight off her and puts it on the victim. Now the victim may feel like she has no right to feel bad about the mean comments. Joking and teasing can be a positive part of friendships.
Saying “just kidding” is okay when:
- Telling the other bystanders to "chill out." The bully feeds off of the attention and reactions from the bystanders. By saying "Chill out" to the other bystanders, Shawna helped them realize that what they were doing was wrong.
- You are not trying to be mean or put the person down./li>
- You know the person well and can joke with them.
- If you ask the person to stop, she will.
- If someone asks you to stop or tells you it hurts their feelings, you apologize and stop.
Here are some things you can do to help the victim after she has been bullied:
Reach out to the victim after she has been bullied.
- Ask if she is okay.
- Tell her you are sorry that happened to her and that you do not agree with it.
- Tell her the bullying is not her fault.
- Invite her to eat lunch with you, to hang out after school, to go to a sporting event or study in the library together.
Encourage her to tell an adult.
Being verbally bullied can be embarrassing, so it can be hard to tell someone else about the situation. It is always best to find an adult and tell them what happened. Remember, this is not tattling. Tell her that you really think she should tell an adult.
- Tell her that you really think she should tell an adult.
- Offer to go with her.
- Offer to do the talking if she feels uncomfortable.
Click here to learn how to talk to an adult about bullying.
Remember it's not tattling if…click here to learn the difference between tattling and telling (DOC).
If you have not seen the bullying but suspect it is happening, ask!
Being verbally bullied can be embarrassing but the victim may be relieved to talk about it.
- Voice your concern and tell her why you suspect someone has been bullying her.
- Tell her if she does not want to talk right now, you are always there if she wants to talk later.
Let's take a look at what happens next in If Bullying Happens To You →