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Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Impact of the Courage of the Bystander

“Courage, her mother had once told her, was not simply the fact that you weren’t scared of anything…
it was being scared and doing whatever it was anyway.
Courage was dealing with your fears and not letting them rule you.”

~ Missy Good

“Courage is a special kind of knowledge:
the knowledge of how to fear what ought to be feared
and how not to fear what ought not to be feared.”

~ David Ben-Gurion

“Courage is not the absence of fear,
but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.”

~ Ambrose Redmoon

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence
by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.
You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

"A man can do only what a man can do.
But if he does that each day he can sleep at night and do it again the next day."

~ Albert Schweitzer

"Bystanders that do nothing or laugh when a classmate is bullied actually reinforce bullying behavior. Parents and teachers can help children to understand that standing by and doing nothing actually empowers a bully. It gives him or her permission to continue harassing their victim.

Bullies love an audience and humiliating a victim in the presence of others gives them more enjoyment. Tacit approval by being silent encourages inappropriate behavior. The research shows that if one person speaks out to say that isn’t fair after a bullying act and then another, the bully is less likely to continue.

Other research studies show that children who simply watch and do nothing to interrupt the event can become upset during the bullying event. One study that examined 2,000 English students age twelve to sixteen reported more feelings of depression, anxiety, hostility and inferiority than either the bullies or the victims themselves. This may relate to feelings of helplessness and guilt that happen during vicarious witnessing of aggression. And guilt at not taking a stand against wrong doing.

There is strength and safety in numbers! Bystanders can stand together to defuse the situation if they are taught this social skill of speaking up against unfair behavior. Teachers and parents can teach this skill directly. Speak with your children about how several children can band together and say “Stop it!” to offset abuse and defuse the situation.

Someone has to be the first to speak out and call bullying for what it is. It often feels risky for children to speak up in social situations that are unclear. It takes courage. Help your children understand that one form of courage is doing that which you fear. Open up the discussion by reading some of these quotes and asking them to comment on them."

From: "The Anti-Bullying Stand against People who Enjoy Hurting Others: Ideas for Teachers and Parents" by Lynne Namka, Ed. D. © 2010

“Teach your child not to become a bully assistant!”

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