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Why Bystanders Choose not to Intervene

Friends, students, peers, teachers, school staff, parents, coaches, or just about anyone, even a stranger online, can be a bystander to bullying. There are many reasons as to why these bystanders may not interject and try to stop the bullying, even if they believe that what is happening is wrong. The most common reason bystanders don’t intervene is fear and self protection.

Fear is perhaps the most prevalent reason kids stay silent. They are afraid that the bullies will retaliate, that if they talk about the issue, the bullies will target them next. When it comes to bullying at school, there is an unspoken rule about secrecy and the bystanders are worried about being labelled as a snitch if they try to tell an adult. Many times, a clique or group of friends is responsible for the bullying. The bystanders who want to be accepted by the group or are part of the group succumb to peer pressure and remain silent about the issue rather than standing up for the victim.

Another reason would be that the bystander(s) believe that the victim deserves the bullying. Some people are judgmental to the bone and they might feel that the victim deserves to be bullied since the victim doesn't conform to their standard of the norm or simply because the victim is “annoying” or “arrogant”. Some bystanders also believe that it wouldn’t make a difference whether they reported the bullying to an adult or not. Many kids have reported bullying only to find out that the adult they reported it to either ignored it or failed to take any action. Thus the youth may assume that the adults won’t do anything anyway, so reporting the situation won't bear any results.

There are many people who would rather ignore bullying than deal with it, as they are often taught to stay out of situations that don't concern them. They may feel that it’s none of their business and turn a blind eye on it. For example, some teachers may be apathetic. They don’t wish to get involved in unnecessary drama nor do they see it as a part of their job to deal with the emotional state of their students, so they ignore the bullying.

Other teachers do their best for the sake of their students and try to address the bullying that exists within the school. They report it to higher authorities and they call the parents, but they are met with various obstacles and resistance, and lack the administrative support to accomplish much. For instance, they may send students to the office when they suspect bullying only to have them sent back to class with no real consequences for their vile behavior and actions. Incidents which can cause an uproar or scandals are often buried deep within the school walls before they even have a chance of seeing the light. Thus teachers often give up or don't even try in the first place.

In this harsh fast paced world, teachers are extremely busy. The expectations placed on them by administrators can be excessively overwhelming at times. Consequently, many teachers struggle just to meet the rigorous demands of their day-to-day obligations and responsibilities. So, when bullying incidents occur, many teachers feel like they simply do not have the time or the energy to be concerned about the matter. Some schools value their reputation over everything. When the bullies hail from families with a strong socio-economic background and have parents who are like the pillars of the society, no one wants to get involved and upset a strong backer.

Many schools still lack solid bullying prevention programs. It is very hard for one person to report and effectively address bullying when everyone is not on board with what needs to be done. To encourage bystanders to interject, a proper team to provide assistance is necessary.



Anvi Jain

Pursing an Honors degree in Economics and a minor degree in commerce; I'm an ardent cynophilist and a plant parent who's a child at heart. An ambivert who's always seeking adventures or just staying cooped up inside her room with a soft drink in her hand and a screen in front of her face, there's no in between. You can find me humming and swaying my body along to anything from 90s rock music to K-pop. I'm an avid reader with a diverse range of interests. You can always find me with a pencil in hand sketching or doodling a lil' something, just going about my daily life, viewing the world through rose tinted glasses.

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