Responding to Students who Support or Contribute to the Bullying

When intervening in a bullying incident with a student who is a bystander, and who has supported or contributed to the bullying:

  • assess the student’s role in the bullying;
  • name the situation and the behaviour the student supported or contributed to as bullying; refer to any concepts, definitions or vocabulary in the school’s Code of Conduct or other school policy to ensure the student understands this;
  • help the student who has played an active role and contributed directly to the bullying or supported the bullying in another way (e.g. by standing and watching) to understand the impact of that behaviour, such as the distress experienced by the student who was bullied;
  • encourage the student to take responsibility for his or her behaviour, its consequences, and impact;
  • confront the student’s attempts to justify or excuse the behaviour (e.g. “it was just a joke”) by clearly stating that such behaviour is not acceptable.

puppet boy mouthing words

To follow-up on a bullying incident with a student who is a bystander, and who has supported or contributed to the bullying:

  • involve the student closely in developing an action plan aimed at ending the bullying situation, by using a problem solving process;
  • encourage the student to make choices, to find solutions, and to make as many decisions as possible, within appropriate limits, with the goal of ending the bullying situation;
  • enable the student to identify and undertake some kind of reparation with the student he or she has contributed to hurting, if it is appropriate;
  • take appropriate action to ensure that the student experiences the natural consequences of the behaviour; it is important that the consequences:
  • give a clear message that bullying is unacceptable;
  • help develop the student’s awareness of the impact of bullying;
  • help develop the student’s awareness of his or her role and impact as a bystander;
  • help develop needed skills for alternatives to bullying behaviour; and
  • help develop the student’s empathy and sense of responsibility.
  • ensure that the student receives the necessary support over the long term to change the aggressiveness of his or her responses and behaviour, and to develop empathy, a sense of responsibility, and the skills necessary to stand up for people who are bullied.