Why you should teach your kids to be upstanders not bystanders

Bystanders have a powerful role to play in changing the course of events during an incident of bullying or violence.

Clinical psychologist Ruth Ancer explains that bystanders are not neutral and can often fuel bullies by giving them an audience.

Bullying situations usually involve more than just the bully and the victim. They also involve bystanders.

Ruth Ancer, clinical psychologist

Depending on how the bystanders respond, they can either contribute to the situation or contribute to the solution.

Ruth Ancer, clinical psychologist

Read: 'Bystander factor in school violence videos is worrying'

Ancer has encouraged parents to raise children who become upstanders (people who take action) rather than bystanders (people who don't do anything).

She says it's important for bystanders to intervene in cases of bullying because bullies often feel empowered by silence.

Also read: Athlone pupils suspended after high school fight videos surface on social media

While it may not always be safe to step in between a bully and their victim, witnesses can also distract the bully, try defuse the tension or report the situation to someone with authority.

Ancer advises that parents and educators talk to children about the bystander effect, map out some scenarios where it could potentially play out, and what they can do differently.

Read more: Gauteng MEC visits Hoërskool President after fight video goes viral

Prepare your children. Help them in advance. Look at what they can do when this kind of thing happens.

Ruth Ancer, clinical psychologist

Make them aware of the bystander position. Turn the bystanders into upstanders - people who actually do something.

Ruth Ancer, clinical psychologist

Let's look at bystanders who become upstanders as heroes.

Ruth Ancer, clinical psychologist

Listen to the discussion on The Eusebius McKaiser Show:


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