Sometimes it’s tempting to think that if you aren’t the person doing something wrong, it doesn’t matter if you ignore it. After all, it’s not your fault you know about it, is it? If you know someone is lying, causing problems or getting other people into trouble you should do what you can to stop it—sometimes just a small action can prevent things getting worse.
Why does it matter?
Bullies can get away with it because of other people’s silence. According to research by the Edith Cowan University (2009), frequent school bullying is highest among Year 5 (32%) and Year 8 (29%) students. The same research found that peers are present as onlookers in 87% of bullying incidents.
By knowing about it and not saying anything you are allowing it to happen.
You would want someone else to speak up for you if you were bullied. Most people who bully online also bully offline: what might seem harmless (‘it’s just a text!’) can have a negative impact on people’s emotional and physical wellbeing, friendships and other relationships. When more people take positive action it creates a culture where bullying (online or offline) is not acceptable and encourages people to look for attention in more positive ways.
Be an active bystander
If you know someone is causing problems, tell them why they should stop. If you don’t feel safe to say something yourself, tell someone who can take action.
Even if the person being treated badly isn’t your friend they don’t deserve to be the victim of lies and pranks.
Create the sort of place you want to be in - online and offline
It’s great to have friends and to look forward to talking with them at school or online—keep it fun by respecting yourself and others.
Protect your private information. Don’t use passwords that are obvious (eg your favourite singer’s name) or tell even your trusted friends—some things should not be shared.
Ongoing teasing and spreading rumours are not ‘jokes’
Some people are mean to get a laugh from other people or to try to make themselves feel more interesting or important. They try to get your support by saying that they didn’t intend to hurt anyone’s feelings. Being a real friend is having the confidence to say when you think something they are doing is not ok, and accepting it when someone tells you that your behaviour is not ok.