How to be an Upstander

An Upstander is someone who takes action against bullying behaviour. When an Upstander sees someone being bullied, they do something about it. They help to stop the bullying from happening, or they support the person who’s being bullied. Take a look at the options below and find out how you can be an Upstander to bullying.

1) Be a mate to the person being bullied

Let the person being bullied know that you’re there for them. They’re probably feeling really lonely, so it will help them to know they’ve got some support. If you don’t feel comfortable saying something IRL, you can always send a DM or give them a call. The important thing is to let them know that you’ve noticed the bullying, you think it sucks and you’ve got their back whenever they need it.

2) Shift the focus away from the bullying situation

You can also help by interrupting the bullying in the moment. Ask the person who’s being bullied for their help with something important, like an upcoming assignment, or invite them to sit with you.

If you’re friends with the person doing the bullying, try to divert their attention from the person they’re bullying. You don’t have to be too creative – just ask if they can help out with a problem, or pull up a funny meme on your phone.

3) Call the person out on their bullying behaviour

Speaking up while the bullying is happening can be pretty scary, but it can make a huge difference. If you feel safe, step in and call the person out on their bullying behaviour. Be direct, calm and confident, and let them know that their behaviour isn’t okay. It can help to have some backup, so chat to a close mate beforehand and check that you’ve got their support.

4) Leave the situation, and then act

If you don’t feel safe to step in and stop the bullying while it’s happening, it’s best to walk away and think about what you can do to help. The bullying will last longer if there’s an audience, even if no one is joining in directly. The same rule applies online. Sharing or ‘liking’ bullying posts can make things heaps worse for the person being bullied. Instead, remove yourself from the situation and say something to the person who’s doing the bullying later on. You can do this via text message or DM, if speaking face-to-face isn’t your thing.

5) Ask for help

Support the person who is being bullied to ask for help. You could offer to go with them to ask for help, or point them towards some useful info (such as this ReachOut article). If the bullying is happening online, you can help them to block and report the person who is bullying them.

If the bullying is getting out of hand and you’re worried about the person’s safety, it might be time to take things further. You may need to report the bullying to a trusted adult such as a teacher, school counsellor or parent.

Every bullying situation is different, so think about which Upstander option will work best for you. The important thing is that you do something to help. It’ll make a massive difference to the person being bullied.

What can I do now?

  • If you have a friend who is being bullied, check out our tips for looking after yourself and see if there’s anything there that might help them to feel better.

  • Chat to other young people about their experiences of being an Upstander on the ReachOut Forums.


I've witnessed bullying