​​I've seen someone being bullied

Have you seen bullying happen but didn't know how to stop it?

When someone you know is being bullied it can be upsetting. If you see or know of others being bullied you may feel angry, fearful, guilty, and sad. You may also feel worried that the bullying could happen to you.

You can take action to stop bullying happening. It is important to do something because ignoring it gives 'silent approval'.

When other people intervene the bullying is more likely to stop.

There are things you can do. But don't put your own safety at risk, and step in only if you feel safe to do so.

Who are bystanders?
What can I do?

Who are bystanders?

In any bullying situation there are usually bystanders;​ other people who watch or are nearby at the time the bullying takes place. You can be a bystander in person or online.

You may have been a bystander if you have:

  • cheered the person bullying
  • stood and watched in silence
  • seen bullying happening online and said nothing
  • laughed or walked away from the situation
  • forwarded an offensive image, post or text message to someone.

If bystanders are confident to take safe and effective action there is a greater possibility that the bullying will stop. A supportive bystander will use words and/or actions that can help someone who is being bullied.

Watch I've seen someone bullied (video) to see how other people who saw bullying happening felt and how they changed things.

Watch Dr Michael Carr-Gregg (Psychologist) talk about what you can do if you ​see bullying happening.

What can I do?

You have a few ways to be a supportive bystander, depending on the situation and how safe you feel to intervene. No one expects you to put yourself in danger.

A group of students standing up to bullying together helps everyone to stay safe.

Say or write something supportive to the person being bullied

You could say something like:

  • "I know you must feel pretty bad, but they are the one with the problem."
  • "Just ignore what they said; they are doing it to feel better about themselves."
  • "Do you want me to come with you to the office to tell a teacher about this?"

Say or write something to the person doing the bullying

You could say:

  • "What you are doing is bullying!"
  • "Stop doing that!"
  • "I don't think bullying them makes you tough."

If it is safe, get together with other bystanders to let the person doing the bullying know that what they are doing is not okay.

Tell someone

It is okay to tell. It is not dobbing to get help for someone who is being hurt.

If you are worried about what other people will say to you, tell someone else privately.

Even if the bullying happens outside of school, report it to someone in authority or someone you trust such as:

  • a teacher or a school counsellor, if it's at school
  • a manager, if it's at work
  • the police, if the bullying is causing serious harm
  • to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner if it is serious bullying online

Your parents or other family members may be able to help you work out who else to tell.

Do something to help the person being bullied

To help the person being bullied, you could:

  • take them away from the bully
  • encourage them to ask for help e.g. go with them to get help
  • include them in your group and introduce them to your friends
  • suggest safe places for them to go
  • show them how to set their privacy settings on social networking sites and mobile devices.

You could show them What to do if you are being bullied (PDF, 180KB) (RTF, 55KB) for bullying in person, or Cybersafety for students (PDF, 63KB) (RTF, 66KB) for bullying online.

Avoid joining in

Don't behave in ways that make the problem worse such as:

  • joining in with harassing or hurting someone
  • reinforcing the bullying behaviour by encouraging, cheering and laughing, even if from a distance or when you hear about it later.
  • never resend or respond to messages or photos that may be offensive or upsetting to someone
  • don't harass, tease or spread gossip about others on social networking sites.

Go to More Information to read more about bystanders.​

Share this page

  • Share with Email

  • Share with Pinterest

  • Share with Google+