When bystanders are quiet, there are
usually underlying threats that keep individuals and groups from stepping up to
help or report bullying and abuse. In the case of children who cannot speak for
themselves, some bystanders may feel threatened or even benefit by not
intervening and will only do so if there is a chance that others will report
When bystanders are quiet and not
involved in the abuse or bullying of adults or children, fear or uncertainty
may be why. However, in the presence of a bully, the behavior exhibited by the
victim and the bystander goes beyond apathy to fear-based. According to Dr.
Albrecht, there are five fears common to humans.
(1) fear of extinction,
(2) fear of body mutilation or invasion,
(3) loss of autonomy,
(4) fear of separation, abandonment or rejection,
(5) ego-death or fear of humiliation, shame,
Since bullying is a system problem, the diffusion of responsibility to not intervene or report bully behavior becomes rationalized because of the fears embedded in the culture.
Debra Stewart Psy.D. Organizational Psychologist Specializing in Health and Wellness