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Bullying Prevention - Bystander Power

Friday 16th March marks the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence (NDA) so we thought it fitting to commemorate this important day by talking about bullying. The Australian Government's Bullying. No Way! website defines bullying as an ongoing misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that causes physical and/or psychological harm. It can involve an individual or a group misusing their power over one or more persons. Bullying can happen in person or online, and it can be obvious (overt) or hidden (covert). An emerging focus is the power of the bystander or what is better known as Bystander Power.

According to Salmivalli (2014) a bystander can typically be categorised by the following roles:

  • The Reinforcer – who provides verbal or non-verbal cues to encourage the bullying behaviour 

  • The Assistant – who may prevent the targeted child from escaping the situation

  • The Silent Approver – not directly involved in the bullying, but through inaction they are seen to approve  

  • The Defender – supports the targeted child either at the time of the incident or afterwards. 

Jenny Williams, Founder of Positive Pieces Education, presented at the 2017 No More Harm Conference on the importance of empowering bystanders through the explicit practice of empathy and Social Emotional Learning taught in Second Step. At Positive Pieces Education, we believe that Social Emotional Learning is the foundation for creating a proactive environment against bullying, but we also recognise that bullying is occurring in our schools and that specific interventions are needed to address bullying head on.

The Second Step Bullying Prevention Unit, used in conjunction with the Second Step SEL program is a comprehensive solution for students and staff to prevent bullying. Our partners, Committee for Children have developed this fun classroom activity that we've adapted for Australian students in Grades 4 - 6.

A Free Classroom Activity to Help Stop Bullying

In this activity, students will create posters showing ways they can be kind and respectful to each other every day and help stop bullying before it starts.  Research has shown that one of the most effective ways to reduce or stop bullying among students is to change the way that bystanders react when they witness bullying. Actively involving students in creating a positive classroom climate, where all students can feel safe and respected, is a great way to get students thinking about how each of them can help stop bullying.

"The National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence" is a positive day of action, bringing school communities together to help find workable solutions that address bullying and violence. Let's Take a Stand Together!" (Bullying No Way!, 2018)


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