Anti-bullying training that focuses on bystander intervention is important, but it isn’t enough.
Most anti-bullying programs are aimed at bystanders. For good reason. Bystanders, if they refuse to allow bullying, are able to stop it. They have more ability to stop bullying than the victim does. And it’s easy for them to do and it carries low risk in doing it and it’s highly effective.
And because it carries low cost, is easy to do and is highly effective, it’s no wonder most of our efforts are aimed at bystanders in an attempt to get them to stand up and stop bullying.
The problem is that we can’t rely on bystanders alone. I consider our focus on bystanders as a bit of distraction really. It’s an important part of the puzzle, but it isn’t’ the entire picture. In the bullying dynamic there is also a bully and a victim. And they need support and interventions targeted to them as well.
The problem is that interventions for bullies are costly and time consuming. They may need mental health interventions, financial resources to help their families and more. So, intervening with a bully effectively to help them stop bullying isn’t as attractive as just providing bystander training and hoping for the best.
Likewise, the interventions required for victims are also time consuming and recurring. You can’t just teach a victim once what to do and have the problem solved. They need support over time in real time as their situation unfolds. They may need legal assistance and mental health assistance and again, it’s no wonder most anti-bullying programs bypass that reality entirely in favor of bystander training.
I’m not bashing bystander training. You get a lot of bang for your buck with bystander training and it’s import. It just isn’t enough. That much is clear.
If we are going to have an effective anti-bullying program we need to teach both victims and bystanders how to get a bully to stop and provide support to bullies so that they can stop.
Read my 5 point plan to eliminate bullying and be part of the solution. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0L27xd7NclMVG9vb0dNbXpuUmc/edit?usp=sharing