Apr 07, 2022

In my first book titled “A Life Interrupted – the story of my battle with bullying and obsessive compulsive disorder” I talk about the fact that reactions from bystanders can significantly impact how a bully treats a victim. I illustrate this point through the description of a most interesting encounter I had with one of the worst bullies from my past.

This revealing encounter clearly indicated to me the significant role a bystander can have in encouraging bullying. In this encounter my worst bully had mentioned to me that he used to do all those terrible things to me because “people laughed”. In fact, even if the bystander does not laugh or visibly encourage the actions, just by being there and witnessing it and not saying anything causes the bully to continue his/her irresponsible behavior. Of course it would be best if a bystander can step in and try to prevent the negative behavior – but as a minimum a bystander must not laugh or encourage the actions and should simply go away from the area and report it to the school authorities.

In my case, my long-term Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) was certainly triggered by bullying – it is certain that the impact would not have been this serious if the bystanders had not encouraged the actions of the bully. Bullies typically do not thrive as well if there is no one around to watch their actions and/or to encourage their negative behavior by supporting their actions one way or another. Support from bystanders provides the boost that the bully needs to continue his or her unacceptable behavior.

© 2017 - Sumi Mukherjee
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