Jan 20, 2023

We often wonder how we can possibly eliminate bullying from the face of this earth. As I speak around the country about long term impact of bullying, I notice that bullying is well and alive all over the United States. 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. As I described in my first book “A Life Interrupted – the story of my battle with bullying and obsessive compulsive disorder”, I had a very interesting personal encounter with one of my worst bullies from the past.

What I learnt is that this specific individual turned to bullying because he noticed that (1) people laughed and encouraged his actions, thereby improving his self-esteem, and (2) he felt that he now had a recognized place in the school community. He was now known for “something” instead of just another insignificant kid in the school community.

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. 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.

As I continue my speaking around the country, I talk about the devastating impact bullying has had on my life so others would understand that the role of a bystander is key in minimizing bullying during school years.

© 2017 - Sumi Mukherjee
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