There’s been a lot of hype in recent years about the “Power of the
Bystander.” Does being a neutral bystander encourage bullying? Is it
your duty to report a bully if doing so may make you the bully’s next
target? Going directly to a bully and saying “Hey, stop that!” or
“tattle-taling” to a teacher might put you in immediate danger, and no
one should be required to do something that puts his or her safety at
risk. However, bystanders can do so much more than that.
Joining clubs such as Gay Straight Alliance, Lines of Love, or Best
Buddies can be just as helpful as confronting a bully, if not more so.
Each year, bullying leads to lower grades, greater anxiety, severe
depression, and, sadly, suicide. For those who wake up each morning
afraid to come to school at all, the simple knowledge that such clubs
exist can be the difference between depression and hope.
Some people have complained that Centennial’s Bullying Prevention Week (“Anti-Bullying Week”) won’t help because bullying will never be completely eradicated. Maybe we need to change our focus. Rather than trying to stop bullying directly, we need to show those who are being bullied that school can be a safe place for them.