Hello fellow popcorn eaters! Long time no writing. I have no excuses. Now a lot has happened since a few weeks ago not just in my life but all over the country and the world. I will get to those issues and the psychologically of them later, but I think it’s time the long overdue 5th reason.
I would like to introduce the 1964 Kitty Genovese’s murder in New York City. Genovese was stabbed to death outside her apartment while bystanders who observed the crime did not step in to assist or call the police. Social psychologists Bibb Latané and John Darley attributed the bystander effect to the perceived diffusion of responsibility (onlookers are more likely to intervene if there are few or no other witnesses) and social influence (individuals in a group monitor the behavior of those around them to determine how to act). In Genovese’s case, each onlooker concluded from their neighbors’ inaction that their own personal help was not needed.
For this post, unless told otherwise, my quotes are going to be by Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor and a author of Night.
So why is this a reason? Well reason 4: Bullying? Okay so in 13 Reasons Why our beloved hero Clay was a bystander. The bystander effect affected Hannah. (Hahaha say that sentence five times fast. Ready. GO!) Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t just Clay, but the whole school. Everyone has at one point been a bystander to bullying, abuse, or other similar negative actions.
A bystander is someone who sees or knows about bullying or other forms of violence that is happening to someone else; they can either be part of the problem (hurtful bystander) or part of the solution (helpful bystander). It’s easy to ignore incidents of bullying, or walk away thinking “at least it’s not me”.
But believe it or not, by doing nothing you are contributing to the problem — and you may be giving bullies the “okay” to carry on with their behavior.
“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
Bystanders are not effected by bullying, Lesley.
Right… and people who go the movies don’t love movie theater popcorn, right?
Some kids and adults may think that bullying only affects the bullies and their victims. However, bystanders who repeatedly witness bullying may be more likely to suffer emotional and physical trauma and distress than those who witnessed less bullying. Penn State researchers JoLynn Carney, Ph.D., and Richard Hazler, Ph.D., said such trauma could affect bystanders for life. In Penn State News, Carney said that bullying can cause bystanders to “demonstrate physical stress symptoms of increased heart rate and perspiration as well as high levels of self-reported trauma even years after bullying events.”
You are seeing someone hurt someone else… it would be inhuman to not think, “Dang, maybe I am next”.
Everyone, not just the bullies and the victims, are affected by bullying. It leads to lifelong social mistrust and damaged relationships that can cause a chain reaction of relationship problems that permeate into adulthood. Hazler said that trust was higher among students who were less exposed to bullying.
“Traumatic life experience is one of the strongest factors that reduce trust in other people, and study results suggest that a similar effect for school-age children may be related to the trauma caused by bullying,” said Hazler in Penn State News.
Bystanders don’t help or support the victims. A major part of them always lives with that regret and also doubt. Doubt because they know that maybe one day they will be the victim and no one will reach out and help them.
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”
We all have a role to play in erasing bullying, and protecting the rights of ourselves and others. You can take a stand against bullying by standing up for someone else — without putting yourself at risk, or becoming a bully yourself.
Bystanders have the power to play a key role in preventing or stopping bullying. Some bystanders directly intervene, by discouraging the bully, defending the victim, or redirecting the situation away from the bully. Other bystanders get help, by rallying support from peers to stand up against bullying, or by reporting the bullying to an adult.
Here are some ways you can become a helpful bystander:
- Make it clear to your friends that you won’t be involved in bullying behavior.
- Never stand by and watch or encourage bullying behavior. It may not be happening to you — but what if it was?
- Don’t harass, tease or spread gossip about others — this includes on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Have you ever liked a cruel Facebook post or mean photo about someone else? Think twice — this is just as bad as you posting it, and sometimes… it could be worse.
- Never forward or respond to messages or photos that might be offensive or upsetting.
- Support the person who is being bullied to ask for help, or report it. Help them find a trusted adult or show them where they can get help or report the incident.
- Report bullying to someone you trust (like a teacher, principal, your parents, etc.). If the bullying is serious or you think someone’s life or safety is at risk, report it to the police.
In 13 Reasons Why, I do believe that Hannah just wanted someone to help her. Someone to standup for her. She didn’t want a bystander. She wanted a friend. Unfortunately, even Clay showed her indifference and well, as Wiesel said: “Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies.”
Seeing someone being harassed or abused is not an invention for you to pull out the popcorn and your cell phone. It is your chance to save a life, make a friend, change the course of someone’s future.
“Because it may seem like a small role now, but it matters. In the end, everything matters.” Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why