a person who is present at an event or incident but does not take part.
You see someone getting shoved down. A girl who is standing by herself with five other girls behind her calling her names. A family member who is being shunned and the subject of snobby looks.A boy standing in the corner of the playground because no one picked him to play kickball. Where are you? You’re there, you see it all happen, but you don’t know what to do. So, you do nothing. You think, “it’s not my battle. This is between them. If I get involved, then they will attack me and right now, I have a good relationship with them. I don’t want to ruin that.” You are the bystander. By you seeing and hearing these things happen, you are already apart of it. You now have a choice. Do you want to stand there, do nothing and encourage this behavior? Or do you want to potentially save someone’s life? I know what you’re thinking—“I’m not encouraging anything by not doing anything.” Oh, but yes you are. By not stopping it, you are encouraging it to continue.
No one necessarily wants to be involved in a situation like this, but when you are, you have step up. Whether it’s a classmate, a friend, a stranger, a family member…you have the obligation to help. We all do. Think if the role was reversed and you were the one being bullied. Your friend knew it was happening, and yet did nothing. Ignored it. Pretended it wasn’t happening. Told you that you were overreacting. Told you to just get over it and let it go. How would you feel? I know how I felt when it would happen to me–pretty worthless. You’re supposed to care about me, and yet when I needed you the most, you let me down. That’s not easily forgotten or something that is easy to just “get over”. Think this doesn’t create trust issues? You’re wrong. It does.
When you do nothing about it, you might as well be the bully. You are just as guilty and just as much to blame. It shouldn’t matter if you have a good relationship with the person(s) doing the bullying…if they are hurting someone else physically or emotionally, you need to step up and help. By not helping, you run the risk of hurting that person even more than those actually bullying. Why? Just like I stated above–you are supposed to care about me, and yet you did nothing to help me. That tells me you don’t care as much as you claim and you are only protecting yourself. And while you should protect yourself, you have an obligation to help others in times of need. I expect to be hurt by these bullies, but not by you.
You have a choice: you can look the other way and pretend that nothing is happening and hurt them even more to the point where they might even take their own life. Or, you can step in and help and potentially save a life. Which would you rather be responsible for? There are no excuses for not helping. If you truly care about someone, you should do whatever it takes to put an end to this behavior.