A student records a bully taking lunch money from another student

Illustrations by Thomas Pitilli

Should You Stand Up to a Bully?

You hear a commotion in the cafeteria. The school bully is at it again. Look around—how are other kids reacting? Some are likely ignoring the situation. Others might be shooting video or snapping pics. What are YOU doing?

About one out of five students in the U.S. report being bullied. Ross Ellis is the head of STOMP Out Bullying, an organization trying to stop that. She says the worst reaction when you see bullying is to be a bystander. That’s a person who witnesses bullying but doesn’t do anything to stop it.

“When you do nothing, you’re sending a message to the bully that their behavior is OK,” Ellis explains.

You hear a commotion in the cafeteria. The school bully is at it again. Look around. How are other kids reacting? Some are likely ignoring the situation. Others might be shooting video or snapping pics. What are YOU doing?

About one out of five students in the U.S. report being bullied. Ross Ellis is the head of STOMP Out Bullying. The organization works to end bullying. Ellis says the worst reaction when you see bullying is to be a bystander. That’s a person who witnesses bullying but doesn’t try to help.

“When you do nothing, you’re sending a message to the bully that their behavior is OK,” Ellis explains.

Instead, she suggests, be an upstander—someone who supports the person being bullied. But there are different ways to do that. And Ellis says the best solution isn’t always to get directly involved.

So how do you know when to stand up to a bully? And what are other ways you can help? On the next page, Ellis weighs in on two situations.

Instead, she suggests, be an upstander. That’s someone who supports the person being bullied. But there are different ways to do that. And Ellis says the best solution isn’t always to get directly involved.

So how do you know when to stand up to a bully? And what are other ways you can help? On the next page, Ellis weighs in on two situations.

At basketball practice, some kids from your team are taunting the new kid, Maddie. They’re making fun of her sneakers and excluding her from shooting with them.

Illustrations by Thomas Pitilli

Shutterstock.com

Standing up to bullies takes courage. After all, you don’t want the mean kids to turn on you. But since these are your teammates and the situation doesn’t seem dangerous, you should help Maddie. One way is to call out the bullies.

“Keep it simple,” Ellis suggests. “Tell the bully that what they’re doing is mean and wrong.”

You could also stand up to the bullies indirectly. For example, try distracting them by changing the subject. Or ignore them and walk over and include Maddie yourself. Either way, you’re showing Maddie that you’re there for her.

Standing up to bullies takes courage. After all, you don’t want the mean kids to turn on you. However, these are your teammates. And as the situation doesn’t seem dangerous, you should help Maddie. One way is to call out the bullies.

“Keep it simple,” Ellis suggests. “Tell the bully that what they’re doing is mean and wrong.”

You could also stand up to the bullies indirectly. For example, try distracting them by changing the subject. Or ignore them and walk over and include Maddie yourself. Either way, you’re showing Maddie that you’re there for her.

At recess, you see the biggest kid in the fifth grade push Jason, who’s in your fourth-grade class. The bully warns Jason that if he snitches, it’ll only get worse after school.

Illustrations by Thomas Pitilli

Shutterstock.com

While standing up to a bully is often the right choice, it’s not always safe to do so.

“If someone is being physically harmed, you should go get a teacher,” says Ellis. “Telling an adult isn’t tattling—you’re helping someone.”

In this case, don’t put yourself in danger by stepping up to someone bigger than you. Tell a trusted adult. You’re still being an upstander if you go get help from someone else.

Plus, by walking away, you’re taking away the bully’s audience. Bullies are encouraged by kids laughing, or even worse, posting pics or video of the scene online. Just don’t walk away assuming that someone else is getting help.

While standing up to a bully is often the right choice, it’s not always safe to do so.

“If someone is being physically harmed, you should go get a teacher,” says Ellis. “Telling an adult isn’t tattling. You’re helping someone.”

In this case, don’t put yourself in danger by stepping up to someone bigger than you. Tell a trusted adult. You’re still being an upstander if you go get help from someone else.

Plus, by walking away, you’re taking away the bully’s audience. Bullies are encouraged by kids laughing, or worse, posting pics or video of the scene online. Just don’t walk away assuming that someone else is getting help.

It’s your turn. Based on what you’ve learned, should you stand up to the bullies in the following situation?

No one wants to sit with A.J. on the bus. She’s all alone and your friends are laughing at her.

It’s your turn. Based on what you’ve learned, should you stand up to the bullies in the following situation?

No one wants to sit with A.J. on the bus. She’s all alone and your friends are laughing at her.

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