Bullying involves additional “players” besides the bully and the victim. All the other players are called “bystanders” collectively and include the “ring leader”, the “associates”, the “reinforcers”, the “outsiders” and the “defenders”. Here are the characteristics of each of these types.
Ring Leader – These are kids in power who orchestrate a bullying act by using their social influence. They do not bully directly but use a bully’s weakness to harass other weak kids.
Associates – These are children who actively join the bully. It could be because they are afraid of the bully or the ring leader, but they do not initiate the bullying themselves. In some strange way, they are also victims.
Reinforcers – These kids do not bully directly but give a feedback to the bully by commenting, smiling or laughing. They do not initiate an act of bullying towards other kids, but they increase the bully’s confidence by being a supportive audience.
Outsiders – These children are on the victim’s side, but they keep quiet when they witness an act of bullying. They are afraid of the bully, so they say nothing and do nothing in order to avoid drawing any attention to themselves.
Defenders – These kids are rare. They intervene and actively try to stop the bully and comfort the victim.
As you can understand, the involvement or un-involvement of all these characters can make a huge difference to the frequency and intensity of the bullying in any environment. On average, kids who get involved and defend a bullied victim stop the bullying act within 10 seconds. We need more of them!
Read more about how to help bullying bystanders…