Be an Upstander

Talk with Your Kids about How to become an Upstander
Creating Cultures of Dignity by Empowering Bystanders
Be a Upstander not just a Bystander
Fess up when you mess up
Virtual Nanny Know what your kids are doing in cyberspace
What is NOT Bullying
Bully Solutions
Are you unique?
Helping Your Child
Bully Prevention - School Policies
Reporting an Incident

How the girl's basketball team complaints are being handled

Related Issues: Bully Index, Bullying , Bullies , Bullying Girls , Bully - The Movie , Coach's Creed, Cyber Bullying , Cyber Suicide , Date Rape , Harassment , Hazing , Sexual Harassment , Suicide , Teen Suicide , Findings of Fact, Conclusions and Final Order
Upstanders: Books , DVDs
Signs: No Bully , Upstanders
Merchandise - Single card - $1.00 includes shipping, Positive Parenting Pack (all 34 cards) - $13.00 plus shipping
Monthly Column on bullying by Kathy Noll

Advice for Parents of Both Victims and Bullies
Are Certain Children more Likely to be Bullied?
Bully Advice for Kids
What can You do to Help Your Child?
Child Violence - How to Prevent Your Child from Becoming a Statistic
Empowering Kids to Deal with Bullies and Low Self-esteem
Is Bullying that Big a Deal?
Q&A About the Book Taking the Bully by the Horns
Should the School Contact the Bully's Parents?
What can Schools do to Help Stop Bullies & Violence?
What can You do to Help Your Child?
What can We to do about "Bus Bullies!"
What to do About Bullies
For Teachers & Parents of Bullies - Some useful Questions to Ask
Critics of School Zero-Tolerance Policies Say Principals Need More Flexibility

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The Bullying Experiment
Upstanders team

Talk with Your Kids about How to become an Upstander

Become an Upstander. Move from silence to action. Bystanders contribute to the problem. Upstanders stop the problem. Research shows that others speaking out or taking action stops bullying behavior over half the time within seconds!

There are different types of bystanders. Which one are you?

  • Do you participate in starting the bullying?
  • Do you laugh or give attention to the bullying thereby encouraging it?
  • Do you join in the bullying once it's started?
  • Are you silent ? This silence is most often misinterpreted by the bully as support for the bullying and interpreted by the victim as betrayal and support for the bully

Progression from Inaction to Action

It takes courage to be an Upstander. Upstanders are kids who do something that prevents or reduces the bullying they see, or comes to the aid of another who is being bullied by showing them kindness. Moving from being a bystander to becoming an Upstander may not happen overnight. It may start by becoming more aware of the bullying behavior and how it is affecting the lives of the victims. Upstanders begin to feel a sense of the injustice they are witnessing. Upstanders are able to see the pain the victim experiences and take action.

Becoming an Upstander looks like this

  • Taking action by telling the bully to stop
  • Taking action by getting others to stand up to the bully with them
  • Taking action by helping the victim.
  • Taking action by shifting the focus and redirecting the bully away from the victim
  • Taking action by telling an adult who can help

Becoming an Upstander

  • Takes courage - Telling a friend who is bullying to stop is hard. They may be mad at you. But at least you won't feel guilt for being silent and allowing the bullying to continue. And you will be doing your friend a huge favor in the end by helping them stop really hurtful behavior.
  • Takes action - Doing something that does not support the bullying can be a really small intervention with big results! Two words - "That's bullying" - can open others eyes to recognize the problem.
  • Takes assertiveness - Telling a friend how their behavior makes you feel and how it affects others requires being able to use your voice!
  • Takes compassion - Upstanders have the gift of compassion. They recognize when someone is hurt and take steps to help.
  • Takes leadership - Upstanders are leaders in their social group, helping others to recognize ways to get along and be supportive to others.

Let's be clear: Beyond the peer pressure not to snitch and adolescent cynicism, parents matter. Encourage your kids to become Upstanders.

Creating a Culture of Dignity by Empowering Bystanders

We've all been bystanders to an act of bullying, whether you realized it or not. It might have happened when you were a kid at school, especially Catholic school. It might have been as a participant in sports or at home with your siblings or from your siblings, a parent or a particular relative, especially at a family gathering. As an adult, think of the places you have worked and your bosses or certain employees. It happens in restaurants, the post office, almost anywhere where two or more people have gathered together.

It's not like any of us looked forward to the confronting the bully. Ironically, it can often be harder to confront a bully we're close to than someone we don't know or don't like. And no matter how you feel about the bully or the target, it can be easy to stay silent because you don't want the abuse directed at you. But here are these inescapable facts:

Almost all of us will be in a situation at some point in the future, maybe even today, where we will see someone bully someone else.

In the past, you might have decided not to get involved based on your feelings toward the bully or the target. If you liked the bully then you were more likely to excuse the behavior. If you thought the target was annoying, then you more easily might have believed that the target was asking for it. But your decision to get involved should be based on the merits of the problem, not on your relationship to the people.

When it happens again, you will have several choices:

You could reinforce the abuse of power by supporting the bully

You could stay neutral - which looks like you're either intimidated by the bully yourself or you support their actions

Or you could act in some way that confronts the bully's abuse of power.

In the face of seeing someone bullied, here are some common reactions:

  • Deny it's going on.
  • Distract yourself so it looks like you don't know what's going on. And if you don't know then you have no obligation to stop it.
  • Laugh to try to convince yourself that what's going on isn't serious.
  • Join in the bullying, because it's safer to be on the side of the person with the most power.
  • Ignore it in the hope that it will go away.
  • Remove yourself from the situation.

But what could you do?

Even if you aren't proud of how you handled the bullying in the past, it's important to recognize how hard it is to know what to do in the moment. That fact doesn't mean it's too late to do or say something. Especially if you are friends with the bully, reaching out to them is actually the ultimate sign of your friendship. Yes, the bully may push back, make you uncomfortable, try to get you on their side, but remember what happened and why you feel like the bully's actions were wrong.

And, if you are friends with the target of the bullying, reach out to them, too.

You could say something like, "I'm sorry that happened to you, do you want to tell me about it?"

Don't tell them what they should have done or what you would have done. Listen and help them think through how to address the problem effectively. And if they ask you to back them up the next time it happens, ask them what that looks like to them. If it means upholding their right to be treated with dignity and not getting revenge on the bully, then do it.

In your own words say something like, "This is uncomfortable to talk about but yesterday when you made that put-down remark to Dave, you know that really embarrassed him. And I know I laughed and I know he can be annoying, but it's still wrong. If you do it again I'm not going to back you up."

Let's move away from the bystanders and focus on the adults in our schools and in our community.

The prevailing explanation of why kids won't come forward is because there's a code of silence that forbids them. No one wants to be a snitch. While there's some truth in that - I think just as powerful a reason for kids' silence is that the adults haven't created an environment where kids think reporting will make the problem better instead of worse. Yet, the most common advice we give to bystanders is to tell an adult. Like it or not, the truth is it's not good enough to tell kids to tell an adult.

Telling an adult won't magically solve the problem. What far too many kids know and experience on a daily basis but we deny is that far too many adults are ill equipped to respond effectively and often only cause the child to give up on adults entirely. Furthermore, the very way a lot of adults treat young people - in a condescending or dominant manner - can you say "bully"? - makes it impossible for children to have any confidence in our ability to be effective advocates.

While there are many effective counselors, even the suggestion to "talk to your counselor" may not be realistic. The child may have no idea who the counselor is - let alone a strong enough relationship with them to take this leap of faith. Recent budget cuts have led our school district to cut back on counselors or eliminate them completely. In Brookings, there is one counselor for 1,600 students and one psychotherapist who only works with Special Needs children.

It has always been the case that kids tend to form strong relationships with their teachers and coaches who aren't abusive. It's these people who bystanders will more likely tell what's going on. Especially for a bystander that could easily think that since the bullying isn't technically happening to them, reporting to a counselor is too extreme.

That's why teachers need to know what to do. Instead of "That person just needs to get a tougher skin," "It can't be that bad can it?" they need to respond with "I'm really sorry this is happening. Thanks for telling me. I know it can be hard to come forward about t things like this, and I really respect that fact that you did. Let's think about what we can do about it."

Let's be clear: Beyond the peer pressure not to snitch and adolescent cynicism, adults matter. If our kids see us treat people with dignity, if we are outspoken about our respect for people who come forward, if we are honest with how scary reporting can be but assure them that we will be with them throughout the process, I guarantee our kids will find the courage to speak out.
Source: Rosalind Wiseman, Bully: An Action Plan for Teachers, Parents, and Communities to Combat the Bullying Crisis,

Be a Upstander not just a Bystander

What is the definition of a bully? Someone who, either alone or with the help of others, using actions or words, hurts another person who cannot, because of physical or social reasons, defend herself or himself.

What can I, as an individual, do to stop the bullying in my school? Not laugh at jokes that make fun of other people. Go out of my way to be nice to the person being ostracized.

What can my classmates do as a group to stop bullying in our school? Declare every bully a persona non grata. Everyone wants to be popular. If kids know that teasing or ostracizing a classmate will cause their own popularity to plunge, no one would be willing to pay the social price of picking on others.

A person who bullies isn’t always “the other kid.” Sometimes, it might be… you! Before you say “No way!” think about it. Have you ever heard yourself saying – or thinking – things like:

  • Some people deserve to be hurt.
  • Being mean to people doesn’t hurt them.
  • It is fun to hurt others.
  • I’m so cool that kids and adults don’t think I would do anything wrong.
  • People push me around, so I’m going to do it to other people, too.
  • I feel better about myself when I make other people feel worse.
  • If kids are afraid of me, then I won’t get picked on.•
  • I am just being funny. What’s the big deal?
  • I do what it takes to be part of the “cool” crowd.
  • I don’t want to be the only one getting picked on.
  • Some kids deserve to be bullied because of what they do to me.
  • I don’t like them, so it’s OK to be mean to them.

Do you recognize any of the signs? Kids bully for a lot of reasons. It might be because of:

  • Peer pressure
  • Being manipulated into something
  • Fear
  • Insecurity
  • Not understanding that their actions hurt someone
  • Not having positive adult role models
  • Being bullied themselves

If you think this might be you, talk with an adult. Seriously, they can help. If the first adult you talk with isn’t helpful, talk to someone else until you find one who will listen. You have that right!

Fess Up when you Mess Up by the Saffire's Original Release Date: November 30, 1989

“Confession is good for the soul.” – Scottish Proverb

Doesn’t that sound wonderful: “Confession is good for the soul.” But how many of us really believe that concept applies to the workplace? If we confess our mistakes, won’t it make us look weak and incompetent to our Boss, our Employees and our Customers? Isn’t it a better tactic to cover up our mistakes or blame them on someone else? I got news for you bunkie: that tactic doesn’t work anymore – if it ever did! Just ask Toyota.

Still need convincing? Here are the primary reasons you need to Fess Up When You Mess Up:

1. It’s just plain wrong to not fess up when you mess up! If you are an ethical person and you want to be perceived as a person with integrity, you have to admit your mistakes and accept the consequences of those incidents.

2. Everybody knows you messed up! Who do you think you’re kidding when you attempt to cover up your mistake or blame someone else for your error? In the Information Age, everyone has access to the information necessary to determine who is responsible for the screw up. And “they” will share that information.

3. You are sending a message that erodes respect and trust! Do you really want your Employees and Boss to assess your character and leadership abilities based on your attempt to avoid accountability or perpetuate a cover up (otherwise known as “lying”)? And what do your actions say to Customers about what constitutes acceptable behavior in your organization?

4. It’s the cover up that will get you! Martha Stewart didn’t do the crime but she went to prison because she attempted to cover up her unethical activities by lying to a federal official – a definite no-no. Her failure to confess/admit her wrong behavior and her attempt to cover it up cost her 5 months in a federal prison camp. What has or can your failure to fess up cost you?

5. There is potential economic value in admitting a mistake! When doctors apologize directly to patients for the harm they caused, malpractice claims and malpractice litigation costs drop by more than 50%. While I don’t know what positive economic impact admitting your mistakes could have on your relationship with your customers and your employees, I do believe not doing so is definitely having a detrimental economic impact through lost sales and Employee turnover.

The Bottom Line: Every one makes mistakes. It is how we deal with those mistakes that matters. Like the ability to delegate, admitting when we’ve made a mistake is a trademark of a good leadership skill set.

What is NOT Bullying?

When talking about bullying, it is very important for parents (and teachers and kids) to understand what is not bullying. Many times, a single act or behavior is out of proportion, but it is not considered bullying.

Some people think that bullying is any aggressive behavior and although such behaviors are a source of concern and need attention, it is important to separate them from bullying. Bullying is recurring and deliberate abuse of power.

It is not easy for kids to understand the difference between a deliberate act and an accidental one, but it surprises me that many grownups also talk about things people do to them as if they were done intentionally to hurt them. Such perception is very dangerous, because every minor act of conflict, done without any intention to harm, can escalate and become a big conflict.

Much like in any communication, whether it is verbal or not, there are two sides involved. Bullying is a form of communication and depends not only on the giver but also on the receiver. For an incident to be considered bullying, the aggressor must want to hurt someone and the victim must perceive the incident as a deliberate act of abuse.

It is very important for the victim to know what is not bullying to make sure that when things seem hurtful, they will not fall immediately into the category of bullying, because the way to overcome bullying is different from the way to overcome other hurtful acts.

Not bullying list

This incidents on this list are NOT considered bullying:

1. Not liking someone – It is very natural that people do not like everyone around them and, as unpleasant as it may be to know someone does not like you, verbal and non-verbal messages of “I don’t like you” are not acts of bullying.

2. Being excluded – Again, it is very natural for people to gather around a group of friends and we cannot be friends with everyone, so it is acceptable that when kids have a party or play a game at the playground, they will include their friends and exclude others. It is very important to remind kids they do the same thing sometimes too and, although exclusion is unpleasant, it is not an act of bullying.

3. Kids fighting - Accidentally bumping into someone – When people bump into others, the reaction depends mostly on the bumped person’s mood. If they have had a bad day, they think it was an act of aggressive behavior, but if they are in the good mood, they smile back and attract an apology. This is also relevant for playing sport, like when kids throwing the ball at each other hit someone on the head. It is very important for teachers and parents to explain that some accidents happen without any bad intention and it is important not to create a big conflict, because it was NOT an act of bullying.

4. Making other kids play things a certain way – Again, this is very natural behavior. Wanting things to be done our way is normal and is not an act of bullying. To make sure kids do not fall into considering it as an aggressive or “bossy” behavior, we need to teach them assertiveness. If your kids come home and complain that Jane is very bossy and she always wants things to be done her way, you can show them that they want it too and that Jane is miserable, because she is not flexible enough and she will suffer in life for insisting that things be done her way. Again, although it is not fun or pleasant, this is NOT bullying.

5. A single act of telling a joke about someone – Making fun of other people is not fun for them, but the difference between having a sense of humor and making fun of someone is very fine. It is important to teach kids (and grownups) that things they say as jokes should also be amusing for the others. If not, they should stop. Unless it happens over and over again and done deliberately to hurt someone, telling jokes about people is NOT bullying.

6. Arguments – Arguments are just heated disagreements between two (or more) people (or groups). It is natural that people have different interests and disagree on many things. Think about it, most of us have disagreements with ourselves, so it is very understandable to have disagreements with others. The argument itself is NOT a form of bullying, although some people turn arguments into bullying, because they want to win the argument so much. They use every means to get what they want and find a weakness in the other person, abuse knowledge or trust they have gained and use it against the other person. It is very important to distinguish between natural disagreements and bullying during an argument.

7. Expression of unpleasant thoughts or feelings regarding others – Again, communication requires at least two players. Although it may be unpleasant to hear what someone thinks about you, it is NOT a form of bullying but a very natural thing. In every communication, there are disagreements and some form of judgment about each other’s attitude and behavior. If someone says to you, “I think this was not a nice gesture” or “You insulted me when you said this”, this is NOT bullying but an expression of thoughts and feelings.

8. Kids bullying - Isolated acts of harassment, aggressive behavior, intimidation or meanness – The definition of bullying states that there is repetition in the behavior. Bullying is a conscious, repeated, hostile, aggressive behavior of an individual or a group abusing their position with the intention to harm others or gain real or perceived power. Therefore, anything that happens once is NOT an act of bullying. As a parent, it is important that you pay attention to what your kids are telling you and find out if things are happening more than once.

All the behaviors above are unpleasant and need to be addressed, but they are not to be treated as bullying. Many times, labeling a single act of aggression can turn it into bullying just by perceiving it that way.

Kelly Ripa and Marlo Thomas talk about Bullying Prevention Month


"Talk to your kids about bullying. Every student is involved with bullying. Either as a bully, a victim, or a bystanders. And it's very frightening and confusing for children who are standing by. They are afraid that they'll be the next kid punch or the next kid picked on. Parents really need to talk to your kids about being bystanders. If you witness bullying and you don't speak up on behalf of your friends or even if it's not a friend, it's a person you don't know, who's going to speak up for you? You want to be that person who's brave enough to speak up on behalf of somebody that may have a weaker voice. Your kids don't want to talk about bullying. They're embarrassed if kids are picking on them. So parents really need to get involved and notice that maybe something is wrong (signs) and ask them what's happening. Go to for more information and for tips on how to stop bullying."

Virtual Nanny

Did you know that...

38% of all kids on Facebook are under 13

74% of parents are concerned about their child's safety on Facebook

70% of the kids already had negative experiences on the Internet

Your kids are on Facebook Are you aware of the THREATS your kids are exposed to on social networks? Even if they're careful, many things can go WRONG!

Cyberbullying: Your children might be exposed by their schoolmates or even their own friends to embarrassing or cruel online posts , pictures, threats, harassment, or negative comments.

Child Grooming: Groomers are adults who befriend your children on social networks, luring them and abusing their trust with wrong intentions.

Oversharing: By sharing too much information, your children endanger their reputation and their future. What they post today in good faith could harm them later on.

VirtualNanny helps you react in time to protect your kids!

Instant Email Alerts: Virtual Nanny monitors your child's profile and notifies you immediately when suspicious actives are detected.

User-Friendly Dashboard: All of your child’s social network activity in one place. Directly access all the information you need to keep your child safe.

Sign up now (Note: The Citizens Who Care are not connected with Virtual Nanny in any other way that thinking it's something some of our readers might benefit from. We get no compensation from this organization. - Gordon Clay)


ABC News Primetime What Would You Do? Reacting to Racists and Bullies

ABC News Specials The "In Crowd" and Social Cruelty

Bully (2011): BluRay (has both PG-13 and G rating versions)


Trevor Romain: Bullies are a pain in the brain

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