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What Are Bystanders?

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.”

While this quote from kids superhero cartoon Miraculous Ladybug may be slightly dramatic, there is a lot of truth to it. In a cyberbullying scenario, many people recognise two major parties: the bully/bullies and the person/people being bullied. However, in many cases there is a third major party: the observer. The observer is somebody who is not cyberbullying another person nor being cyberbullied, but is aware of such activity going on between others. The observer has a lot of power in these scenarios, as they can vouch against the bully and help prevent ongoing cyberbullying.

Unfortunately, many observers don’t reach out to prevent ongoing bullying and instead become bystanders. Bystanders are observers who don’t interact in an effort to prevent the cyberbullying for a number of reasons. The bystander effect suggests that when there are more observers, there is less chance of anybody reporting the incident, usually for a range of reasons. For example, people may think that another observer will report the bullying, or worry that if they intervene the bully will turn on them as well. Many bystanders may just not be aware of how to report cyberbullying at all. Being a bystander can be a difficult position for many because of factors like these.

It is incredibly important to take a stand against cyberbullying and prevent cyberbullies from continuing harmful actions against others online. Bystanders can make a huge difference and be an overwhelming help to somebody in need, by offering to be there for that person and help them report cyberbullying, or standing up to people who are harming others and making sure people know those actions are not okay. If you are aware of cyberbullying, report the incident to the platform it is occurring on and reach out to the person being bullied to see how you can help them. This is the first simple action needed to preventing ongoing cyberbullying.

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