Feb 11, 2016

Behavior management in schools is often a major training topic for all school staff including teachers, social workers, counselors, school psychologists, and administrators. In order to put together an effective program with appropriate processes and procedures, it is important for everyone to have a thorough understanding of what bullying can do to victims in terms of long term impact and what are some of the root causes for this behavior.


We often wonder how we can possibly eliminate bullying from the face of this earth. Of course, there is no one answer that will solve this issue for everyone. However, one of the keys to minimizing bullying is to try and understand why bullies do what they do, and what role do bystanders play in that connection.


This discussion about the role of a bystander is derived from a personal encounter I had decided to have with one of my worst bullies from the past. After considerable effort, I was able to locate this bully from the past and was able to connect with him. In this meeting I was able to describe to him all the terrible things he had done to me, and most surprisingly, he agreed that he had in fact done those things and he also apologized for having done those bad things. Eventually I asked him the question about why he did all those terrible things and what prompted him to treat me so badly. He did give a couple of reasons and one of those reasons was that “I did all those things because people laughed”. He was primarily referring to the bystanders who were not only just watching the bullying but were actually laughing as he was doing those terrible things.


This revealing encounter clearly indicates the significant role a bystander can have in encouraging bullying. 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. As part of all my speeches and workshops I make sure to include this discussion about understanding the root causes that drive the bullies and how to develop programs to address this appropriately.

© 2017 - Sumi Mukherjee
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