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The Characters Involved in a Bullying Circle

The characters involved in bullying go beyond the bully, bullied and bystander. Who they are becomes important as we try to understand where our child fits in.

When I am giving a presentation to families about bullying prevention or to students I remind them and myself that all of us have seen bullying, been bullied or been the bully at some point in our life. 

We just need to be honest with ourselves to see times that we have used an imbalance of power to get our way even if it hurt someone else and we may have used this power on several occasions to get what we wanted. 

However the roles that are played out in the bullying scenario are more than just the three that we talk about most commonly. Dan Olveus is a long time researcher on the subject of bullying prevention and he suggests that on the bullying side are the following characters:

Henchmen - Those who take part but do not plan or start the bullying behavior

Active Supporters - Those who cheer the bully on and seek social or material gain

Passive Supporters - Those who enjoy the bullying, but do not show open support 

On the other side of the circle are those described as bystanders, those who see and are aware of what is happening. Even these are broken down into different levels of awareness and activity. 

Disengaged Onlookers - Those who observe, ‘none of my business;’ turn away

Potential Witness - Those who oppose the bullying, know they ought to help, but do not act.

Resister, Defender, Witness - Those who actively resist, stands up to the bully and speaks out against the bullying.

All of the characters in this cycle are affected by bullying behavior and bullying.  The affects are very similar, although for different reasons. In future posts we will discuss the effects of bullying on all of these groups and why we must as a community we must not ignore or deny bullying or bullying behavior. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

John October 12, 2012 at 02:03 PM
From today - very sad: http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/12/world/americas/canada-teen-bullying/index.html?hpt=hp_c2
lulin October 30, 2012 at 08:54 AM
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KAREN SMITH January 21, 2013 at 10:49 PM
Dear Joe, I have been going through process of elimination regarding my son. Math dropped, He has been saying "mommy please don't yell at me I got something wrong", self esteem dropped, sad, ......Come to find out it was his teacher...pointing him out in class, humiliating him in front of students, calling out, "you are wrong again"....they have been taught to be a disengaged outlooker....ignore it, its not you, this is what is taught in a local elementary school by a teacher....

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