New data released this week revealed:
17 percent of American students report being bullied 2-3 times a month or more within a school semester.
Over 9% of girls and 14% of boys just watch their fellow classmates get bullied.
Over 30% of girls and 22% of boys think they ought to help the bullied students, but don’t do anything about it.
80% of bullying is witnessed; but only 10% of witnesses/bystanders report incidents.
Why are bystanders not reporting incidents?
There are many reasons and some of the most common include:
- Some feel threatened or intimidated when reporting a bully or suspicious incident.
- Some do not trust the school policy or bullying program will be followed.
- Some do not feel their confidentiality will be protected if they come forward.
- Some do not know how to recognize or where to report incidents.
“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” — Albert Einstein
But, we have to be careful not to rush to judgment and blame the bystanders. If 90% of the bystanders are not reporting, maybe the problem is the way incident reporting is being offered?
Perhaps the lack of incident reporting starts with school leaders? Are school leaders ensuring that all faculty, school administrators, school security officers, school resource officers, counselors, parents, and students understand and trust their entity’s incident reporting? Are school leaders ensuring individual understand their roles and responsibilities for preventing, responding, reacting and reporting bullying related incidents?
Lessons learned reveal it is critical for school administrators to encourage victims and bystanders to report bullying. Lessons learned also reveal that school leaders have an obligation and responsibility to provide easy, accessible and anonymous ways for victims, bystanders, parents and third-parties to report incidents occurring at school and off of school grounds too.
Trust is critical to achieving better results. School leaders must quickly and consistently respond to all incident reports to ensure all individuals that the school is serious about bullying and is not ignoring victims or bystanders. Anti-bullying and incident reporting efforts should not be a bunch of posters, memos, e-mails or a program brochure disseminated in a binder or student handbook.
Are you doing what you need to do to empower victims and bystanders in your school?