Beating Bullying: Five Tips for Bystanders

At our request, Lauren Seager-Smith, CEO of Kidscape, has kindly shared Five Tips for Bystanders.

Bullying doesn’t just occur in schools. Sometimes you may witness bullying in your day-to-day life. As an individual, it can be hard to know what to do. 

If you see a bullying incident outside of school or work, your response will be different depending on your relationship to those doing the bullying, risk to your own safety and your level of confidence. Think carefully about your personal safety at all times: this is your biggest priority. 


If you are concerned that a child or another adult is at risk of serious harm and it’s an emergency situation dial 999.  If you intervene physically or verbally you put yourself at risk of attack.


If you feel able, you could draw alongside the person experiencing the bullying. Perhaps strike up a conversation with them, or ask them if they need anything – like a glass of water.  It may then be possible for you to move away together from those doing the bullying.


If you know those doing the bullying – for example, they’re part of your wider friendship group, from your school or your neighbourhood – you will need to judge whether it’s safe for you to take action.  It’s important to be assertive rather than aggressive – for example saying ‘Stop it now – that’s enough’, or finding ways to distract those doing the bullying – changing the subject or leading them away.


If the children involved are in uniform then you could contact the school and let them know what you’ve seen. You could also contact the non-emergency number of the local police force, children’s services in your local area (otherwise known as social services) and the transport provider if it’s relevant.  The school have powers to discipline for behaviour outside of school; the police and the local authority have a duty to keep children safe wherever they are, and the transport provider should take action to keep passengers safe.


If you’ve witnessed a hate crime – where you see someone attacked or harassed because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability, dial 999 in an emergency and report online through the True Vision website.

Together we can make a difference!