How To Change Children From ByStanding to Upstanding
Bullying has become more and more of a problem over the years. Years ago, bullying occurred in the school yard, on the playground, and on the bus. These days, bullying still occurs in these places, but on the internet as well. Children bully other children in person, as well on social media sites, through text message, instant message, and email. With bullying becoming such a problem, parents may feel helpless, not knowing what to do.
When a child is being bullied, parents often speak with their child’s teacher, principal, bus driver, and the parent of the bully. While all of these are effective methods to stop the problem, there is another solution which many parents and educators neglect to consider, the children.
Dangers of Bullying
It is important that parents and educators lose the “kids will be kids” thinking when it comes to bullying. There are serious, lasting effects that a child who is bullied can suffer from.
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Poor performance in school
Children who are witness bullying and choose to remain bystanders can have emotional issues.
- Fear that they will be bullied next
- Desire to skip school
- Poor performance in school
Children who bully others can also suffer long lasting effects of their behavior. Studies have shown that children who were bullies are more likely to:
- Abuse drugs and alcohol during adolescence and as adults
- Get into fight
- Drop out of school
- Have criminal convictions
- As adults, they may become abusive to spouses, partners, and children
Why a Child Will Be a Bullying Bystander
When a child is being bullied, the first people to see it happening are the other children around. Often times, children will not do anything to help. It is not because they do not care, it is because they do not want to be bullied themselves. When children are bystanders of bullying, they may not know what they can do to help. This is where parents and educators need to step in. It is the adult’s duty to stop bystander bullying, and give the children the tools necessary to help stop the bullying when they see it. We need to teach our children to be an upstander.
Definition of Upstander
An upstander is a child who does not sit idly by and watch another child being bullied. Upstanders will step in, and try to stop the bullying. Upstander definition comes from the word upstanding citizen, or in this case upstanding youth. An upstanding citizen or youth is a person who will do anything that they can to help the people around them. This is what an upstander will do. When we teach our children to stick up for a child being bullied, they are taking away some of the bully’s power. If all of the children witnessing the bullying decide to upstand, the bully has lost all of their power, and all of the children are safe again.
Ways to Make Your Child an Upstander
There are many things that parents and educators can do to turn our children from bystanders to upstanders.
- Define upstander to the children: When children understand the upstanding definition, and understand what they can do, and the power that they can take from a bully, they may be more likely to want to help. By helping children define upstanding, and what it can do, there may be no bystanders left to empower bullies.
- Let children know that they can help without being a bully themselves: A child does not need to become a bully to the bully to be an upstander. There are several things that they can do to take the power from the bully without being confrontational.
- Don’t laugh: When children do not laugh at a child who is being bullied, the bully is not getting the attention that he is hoping for, and is likely to stop.
- Don’t encourage the bully: When children are witnessing a child being bullied, they should avoid encouraging the bully. By egging the bully on, your child indirectly being a bully themselves.
- Don’t give the bully an audience: When a child is being bullied, the worst thing that the other kids can do is watch. An audience is what the bully needs and wants. Without it, he may stop.
- Reach out in friendship: A child who is bullied likely feels scared and alone. When other children reach out to the child, it may give them the courage to stand up for themselves.
- Tell an adult: For some children, it may be scary to be an upstander in public. If this is the case, the child can tell an adult. It will help the child who is being bullied, and the child who told can remain anonymous.
- Classroom workshops: Having bullying workshops in the classroom is an excellent way to help children become upstanders rather than bystanders. Teachers can do role playing exercises with the children in order to teach them how to stick up for each other. When there is bullying going on in the class, these exercises can be extremely helpful.
- Encourage students to support a change: By showing children what a school united can look like, they may be more likely to ban together to stop the bullying.
What Parents Can Do At Home
- Communication: The best thing that a parent can do to help is to communicate with their children. Giving children a safe place to discuss how they are feeling, and what they are experiencing in school. When a child feels safe to speak their mind, they will feel safe letting their family know if there is a problem.
- Empower your children: Reminding children that they have the power to create change is very important. When a child believes that they cannot do much being they are just children, they are likely to remain bystanders. Remind children that power can come from even the smallest person. Having conversations like this with your children will likely give them the strength that they need to go from being a bystander to an upstander.
Bullying is a problem everywhere. It does not matter what state, city, or neighborhood you are living in, it exists everywhere. If children, parents, and educators work together to stop the problem, children will no longer need to live in fear. In a perfect world, children will not be afraid on the bus, on the playground, and at the neighborhood park. If everyone works as a team, bullying can become a thing of the past.