In that moment, that critical moment, when bullying is happening here and now, the bystander is the most powerful force of intervention:

I love this video so much, it gives me hope for humanity.  

As you were watching this video, you might have noticed that there were many different ways of responding as a bystander, but I think there are three main types. Let’s talk about the first two: the Direct Approach and the Invitation.

#1 – The Direct Approach

First, you saw what I call the direct approach where people attempt to cut the bully off. 

“Don’t talk to her like that.”  

“Stop being mean.”  

“Do you want others to treat you that way?”  

This is a good way to derail the bully at the moment, but it is also my least favorite intervention. I believe that many of the direct attempts will deepen the bully’s suffering in that moment.  I think there is an important educational component to be had, but I wonder if it simply perpetuates the hurt.

Of course, if the bully is acting in a highly aggressive or violent manner, the direct approach is certainly called for.

#2 – The Indirect Approach

Second, you might have noticed the bystander give an invitation for connection.  This is my favorite.  Wasn’t that beautiful the way that man called the bullying target over and played his little harmonica for her?  

You can invite the victim to join you, leave the situation, and take action to lift their spirits.  At that moment, you provide them with that human connection that so sweetly salves the hurt of bullying.  You are showing them that they are valuable, that they matter, and that what was happening was wrong.  

But there was also a third response to bullying that they didn’t show in this clip…

#3 – Doing Nothing

We didn’t get to see all the people who ignored what was happening.

This third response is one of ignorance. They just kept walking.  They put on their headphones and pretended it wasn’t happening.  They kept their mouths shut, unable to work up the courage to break the cycle.  

This is the difference between a bystander and a hero. 

So the question is, how will you respond? How will you act when your moment comes to be there for someone else? Will you take action, provide healing, and help end the endless chain of suffering?

Want to Learn More?

Contact me today! I provide keynote talks and workshops to help kids and families deal with bullies and discover connection.