How Can You Help When Someone Else Is Being Bullied?
Small steps go far
Directions: Read the article. Study the facts. Decide what you think. Go to www.scholastic.com/storyworks for more debates!
You’ve met girls like Lacey— bossy girls who seem to have mysterious powers. Lacey controls her friends like a wizard with an invisible wand. What she does, they do. When she decides someone is OUT, well, that’s that.
Like Ellie, a girl on her school bus.
One day Lacey decided that nobody should sit near Ellie. So nobody did. Lacey thought it was so funny, how day after day Ellie got on the bus and looked around for a seat, and how no one made room.
What Lacey was doing—making another kid feel like a squashed bug—is called bullying. There’s also a name for Lacey and Ellie’s friends, who saw what was going on and did nothing. They’re known as bystanders.
In 90 percent of all bullying episodes, there are bystanders; 75 percent of the time, those witnesses do nothing to stop the bullying.
Of course, you should never risk your safety to intervene if the bullying is dangerous. Don’t step in if you could get hurt—tell an adult.
But Lacey, barely 4'5", with a Hello Kitty backpack, isn’t exactly a dangerous person. Like most bullies, her weapons are words and giggles, not fists or knives or anything worse.
Those friends of hers had far more power than they knew.
“The bystander has the power to step in and change things,” says Kim Storey, a bullying-prevention expert.
Very often, the best way a bystander can help is by taking small and simple steps, like ignoring the bully and saying a kind word to the victim. Kids like Lacey rarely bully in private. They need an audience to laugh along with them, or their show comes to an end.
Jennie, one of Lacey’s friends, learned this firsthand. “I felt badly for Ellie, but I was afraid that if I did something, Lacey would be mean to me,” Jennie said.
Jennie spoke to her mom, who urged her to sit next to Ellie. But was it a good idea? She worried that Lacey could turn on her too. Jennie wondered if she should even get involved. What if Ellie got mad at her?
Maybe Jennie should just mind her own business.
But the next day, without a word, Jennie simply walked over and sat next to Ellie. And guess what Lacey did?
“Nothing,” Jennie said.
That one act, like the wave of another invisible wand, broke the spell. Ellie was back IN. Lacey was still bossy and mean.
But nobody was being bullied.
Jennie helped. Would you?