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The Bystander Effect – Alyssa

Alyssa was a part of the Bystander program seven years ago. Currently in her second year of college, I was curious to reach out to her to find out if she remembered this program she participated in as an eighth grader and also, what lasting impressions did the program leave. Here’s what she had to say:

“My experience with Bystander is something that has stuck with me since we did it when I was in the 8th grade…I am now in my second year of college. I decided to try out for the project when I saw it done the year before and saw how powerful it was — It made me want to be a part of it. As someone who has been bullied, and have had many friends who were as well, I know how important it is to not be a bystander and to make a difference. It still moves me thinking about it to this day, and it just furthers the importance to me of treating people with respect regardless of what you may think of them. After we did Bystander, people in the school who bullied my friends and I had messaged me and apologized for how they treated me, and that the entire program opened their eyes to how they treat others. I think Bystander is important for every student to experience at some point as it shows the true effect bullying can have on others. It also emphasizes that even if you aren’t the bully, if you don’t do anything you are part of the problem and should stand up for the person who has nobody to stand up for them.”

Alyssa’s words are so valuable in that, having been bullied, she was immediately gratified when, after the performance, those who had bullied her reached out to apologize. One of the messages of Bystander is that it is never too late to apologize. A bully victim remembers when they were bullied clearly, no matter how much time has passed. When the bully offers an apology, even years after the bullying had taken place, the effect is so powerful. Another poignant component of the Bystander program is that it exposes the feelings and emotions related to being a victim of bullying. Audience members finally understand how it feels to be bullied and oftentimes seek out former victims to apologize or offer a positive interaction. I am thankful to Alyssa for sharing her memories with me and for showing others just how the Bystander can impact people long after the performance is over.

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