Survey participants were asked if they had ever helped another person who was being bullied, and 51% said they have supported someone else who was being bullied. 63% said witnessing someone being bullied was what caused them to act.
Respondents were asked what triggered them to step in and help, and were four times more likely to step in and help if they witnessed bullying. Other options included noticing the victim was acting differently or had mood changes, and if the victim asked them for help directly.
“The role of the bystander – the person who witnesses the bullying – is crucial to helping to reduce bullying incidents. Bystanders can be empowered to step in and challenge the bully, they can also report bullying incidents to a responsible person and can also provide the target who is being bullied support and – most crucially – friendship. Friendship helps the target feel accepted and valued which raises their own self-esteem and helps to reduce isolation”, Kidscape Director of Services Peter Bradley, a Psychodynamic Counsellor and Psychotherapist, said.
More than half of those who acted said they helped by confronting the bully. Only 24% reported the incident to authorities, management or school officials.
“It is really important that bystanders report bullying incidents to those in authority, to do this, there has to be an accessible reporting mechanism whereby the incident can be recorded and acted upon as quickly as possible.
The bystander also has to feel confident that the report will be taken seriously and that the target and will be protected and information kept confidential for the purposes of the incident”, Peter said.
Outside help is available in many forms to those being bullied. Kidscape provide a unique program to help combat bullying called the ZAP programme. ZAP is a free, one-day workshop for primary and secondary-aged children who have experienced being bullied and operates from London, Birmingham and the northeast of England. The programme focuses on developing assertiveness skills and raising the confidence of children so that they are able to deal with bullying situations effectively.
Surveys of programme attendees have shown that 93% of young people who have attended ZAP are bullied significantly less, have higher self-esteem and are more confident. The programme has even helped improve some students’ attendance in school. “People tell Kidscape that ZAP has really changed their lives”, Peter said.
Parents also take part in the programme by attending a half-day workshop facilitated by counsellors who listen and advise parents on what to do best. “The most valuable part of the parents’ session is letting parents talk freely and to ensure they are being heard amongst the pain and distress the bullying has caused their family. Letting parents talk about their experiences is part of the healing process and parents are more informed about how to protect themselves from bullying incidents”, Peter said. For more information on ZAP or to see available workshop dates, click here.
In addition to professional help, there are some simple ways you can help a person being bullied. If you are worried about a friend, pulling them aside and talking to them can be a great help. If they aren’t ready to talk, don’t push them. Reassure them and be there to listen when they are ready.
If a person feels like they are being bullied, it can be a very long, lonely journey. Sometimes, when a person is going through a tough time, simply knowing that someone cares and is there for them can be very effective. Remind them that you are there and they are not alone.