What is an Upstander?
An upstander is a helpful bystander – someone who stands up, speaks out and takes action when they see something wrong – like bullying. In business environments and in schools, upstanders are heroes – and the most important weapon in the battle against bullying.
Research has shown that when a bystander intervenes in a bullying incident, the harassment stops in most cases within ten seconds. Conversely, when we do nothing (or worse, join in), we become part of the problem.
There is plenty we can all do to become upstanders when we see a bullying situation unfold:
- Tell the bully to stop – and explain why what they’re doing is wrong
- Join forces with other upstanders to present a united front against bullying
- Be a friend to the victim – ask if they’re okay; support them in any way you can, especially in reporting the incident and getting extra help
- Make it clear to others that you won’t participate in bullying behaviours of any kind
- Never stand by, watch and do nothing (ask yourself: what if it was me?)
- Never encourage bullying behaviour – this makes you a co-bully
- Shift the focus – redirect the bully away from the target
- Report bullying incidents to the authorities ASAP; don’t delay – waiting helps no one but the bully
- If the bullying is so serious that you feel the victim’s life or personal safety is in danger, report it to the police
- Never respond to messages, emails or photos that might be upsetting or offensive – this includes ‘liking’ or sharing a social media post that denigrates a co-worker/fellow student
- Don’t spread hurtful gossip
- Self-educate: understand the causes and the harmful effects of bullying and familiarise yourself with your business or school’s anti-bullying policy
- When assisting a victim to report a bullying incident, focus on the facts: know the ‘who, when, where, how and why’ and provide an accurate account of everything you saw or experienced in relation to the abuse
Upstanders play a crucial role in breaking the silence around bullying. Learning to be an upstander is an empowering life skill that can create lasting and positive change for business leaders, employees, teachers and students. Anyone can become an upstander and everyone should – because healthy, supportive relationships and courageous communication lead to a better, more productive world.
If you’d like to learn more about how to arrange in-house Upstander Training at your business or school (or online), please contact Jessica Hickman at email@example.com.