The Importance of Bystanders 11

Thankfully, I had parents who taught me to help people in trouble and yet, until my thirties I did not always do this.  I have never left anyone wounded or bleeding, but there have been times when I have not stopped if I saw others were already at the scene.  I mentioned in a previous blog that I also regret not speaking up to help a friend when someone bullied her on the school bus when I was in high school.  It took me a while to really grow up, so I do get how hard it is for bystanders to step-up and help those in need, although I think it is time we worked to change the apathy within ourselves and others.

What I do not get is why in a time when bully prevention programs encourage bystanders to help, a mail carrier has to fight to try to get her job back after helping a young man who was in danger of being mauled by two pit bulls.  That is just wrong!  See this story:  Mail Carrier Tries to Get Job Back After Helping Boy | NBC Philadelphia.

What I do get and love is bystanders who do help and bloggers who post their stories and helpful information.  Read this post:  Tips for the Bully Bystander « Bullying Stories.

Warning the next link is disturbing, so I understand if you choose to skip it. 

This link includes two examples of how callous people are capable of being:  The Bystander Effect: Alive and Well, Page 2 of 2 – Associated Content from Yahoo! –

The last two links are information from a teacher’s site about the Holocaust.  I am posting them because I really fear for our nation when bystanders do not speak-up and when I see a tolerance of meanness while kindness and acceptance of differences are seemingly MIA in some of our school age children.

A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust-Victims.

A Teachers Guide to the Holocaust-Bystanders.

Do you speak-up when you see someone being mistreated?  Do you encourage your children to speak-up too?


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  2. “tolerance of meanness” that is an excellent way of putting it. Sometimes, I think that “being mean” is what has become a selling point in our culture. Having four kids-I see it in the television shows they watch..So we talk about it. The hard thing is-teaching them the right way-giving them a moral compass..and yet, as they go into the world-they see adults behaving poorly-and it is acceptable. Case in point-“American Idol”..a show which has some of the highest television ratings on nights where they show clips of people who can’t sing-and the panel has a great deal of fun at their expense.
    That is considered entertainment. Sometimes I think that if we want to effect change-we start by raising our kids…and then I see the behavior of the adults in the world I’m pushing them into. It’s a catch-22.
    Look at me getting all long winded! sorry..You (as always )make excellent points. 🙂

    • Kathleen,
      No apology necessary! I get upset about the same things. It isn’t just the children that need to change, it is our whole society. Unfortunately, I haven’t figured out a way to get through to the adults yet. I’m hoping that if we get through to the children some of the adults will get a clue too. I am the eternal optimist! 🙂

  3. It is a shame that we are living in a society where we have to think twice before helping some one. Will I get sued or fired should not have to be something you have to worry about it.

  4. I must have lived a sheltered life since I can’t remember anything in my childhood that resembles the severity of bullying these days.
    When we moved here in AL to a military school, I do hear from hubby a few cases of bullying that is happening and have witnessed a few of them. I have my celfon always with me when we are walking around the campus, so that when I witness these cases, I dial my hubby right away. Hubby has the official capacity to pacify situations like that … I haven’t tried stepping up or speaking up, because I know for sure, I won’t be as effective to these raging teenage boys.

    • Charlotte,
      I probably would not confront a group of teenage boys either, but I would tell someone. I’m glad you call your husband. I never experienced this type of bullying either thank God. I really do blame the parents because when we were younger parents cared about how their children acted. Some of today’s bullies have parents who seem oblivious.

  5. It’s discouraging that we as a society don’t speak up more.
    I have had many occasions where I have left regretting that I didn’t do or say something in difficult situations.
    But I have also had many times where I have spoken up. And the feeling is incredible!

    • Fi,
      Even if people speak up sometimes I’m happy with that. It is the people who never speak up that drive me crazy! Thanks for being one of ones who does. 🙂

  6. I use my voice, and I use it quite well! No one ever stood up for me as a child and I make sure that not only am I an advocate for my children, husband, self, and strangers. We had this topic at a dinner party last week. I told them a recent story of me tapping a man on the shoulder and informing him that he was being rude and disrespectful to a young girl at the restaurant and he needed to go apologize immediately. The look on his face as his cell phone dropped and he said, “Okay” was priceless. I then walked out feeling much better about myself. I know no boundaries… 🙂

    • Lisa,
      I love that you do this and I love that this man listened! 🙂 I think boundaries are necessary for our protection, but we sometimes overuse them to prevent getting hurt when we need to get involved.

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