Bullying: the viewer's role in bullying

Bullying: the viewer's role in bullying

If we were to go out and ask people about the protagonists of a bullying situation, most of us would basically talk about two: the victim and the aggressor. However, from a professional perspective it is increasingly clear that in this complex phenomenon there is also an element of special relevance: the viewer.


  • 1 The victim
  • 2 The aggressor
  • 3 The viewer

The victim

When a child is a victim of a situation of bullying or bullying, does not always act the same way. The victim may adopt, due to personality or situation characteristics, a passive role or an active role.

Active victims

Active victims become more nervous, and this anguish or fear often leads to violently counterattack the aggressor. This means that violent behavior is not always the origin of bullying, in some cases it is the defensive response to a situation of harassment, so the analysis must be thorough and unjudged.

Passive victims

Passive victims have a different way of dealing with the situation. They usually show withdrawn, internalize in problem and do not defend themselves. Withdrawal can play against you because, by isolating yourself, the rest of the group can turn you aside, disregard them and this will make you feel weaker, insecure and helpless.

The aggressor

Not all bullies are equal. There are those who dare or need to make them see that they have dominion and harass openly, and there are those who throw the stone and hide their hands, getting power, going unpunished and letting others bear the responsibility. In this sense we would talk about two types of aggression: direct and indirect.

Direct aggression

This type of aggression is open, active and Its purpose is both aggression and the rest see and applaud. It should be noted that, on many occasions, dominant and aggressive students enjoy popularity among their classmates, who admire and fear them at the same time. Direct aggressions are aimed at maintain this dynamic of power and admiration in the group.

Indirect aggression

However, aggressions can also be indirect. They are based on a principle of control over the group: the indirect aggressor gets them to be other companions who harass and mistreat, led by him. In this way, the origin of the aggression is more difficult to detect.

The viewer

Now we reach a point of special relevance according to the latest studies: the role of observers. There is four ways to observe and react to aggression from one partner to another, three of them maintain harassment; Only one can stop it. Unfortunately, most viewers don't connect emotionally with the victim, they don't empathize enough with her. Dehumanizing her, ignoring what she feels, is a way of not taking responsibility for the harassment they are witnessing.

1. The "buddy" viewer

The cronies they are usually friends of the intimate circle of the aggressor. They are usually aware of the dynamics of aggression that is taking place, in fact, they tend to get actively involved in it and help carry it out. Sometimes they can be "the weapon" that an indirect aggressor uses to harass his victim.

2. The spectator who reinforces

It is very common that there are students who are seeing what is happening directly and, not being aware of the seriousness of the situation, not only do not stop it, but put firewood on the fire through smiles, laughter, cheer on the aggressor, clap, shriek ... as if it were something alien to them.

3. The spectator who becomes Swedish

A third group of spectators is one who knows the aggressions, or the presence, but who does not want to intervene for fear of meaning and gain the disapproval of the aggressor. To these viewers it seems bad what is happening, but they do nothing to avoid it and, therefore, also end up being a factor reinforcing the aggressions.

4. The spectator who dares to defend

Finally, there is the viewer who is very clear that he does not accept or tolerate what is happening and that take action to defend the victim, either by notifying a teacher, physically separating him from the aggressor, facing the latter, etc ...

The phenomenon of bullying is a complex phenomenon that must be intervened from a broad perspective. You have to find out what is happening to the aggressor, because everything has an origin, you have to help him solve his problems and correct his behaviors. We must help the victim and teach assertive ways to defend themselves. Observers must be detected, made aware of their responsibility and trained in change. And, of course, schools must be made aware of the need to implement prevention, detection and school mediation measures.