Be an active bystander

Riddhi and Vasundhara Oswal’s Stop The B mission helps victims of bullying realise they are not alone

December 12, 2020 06:17 pm | Updated 06:29 pm IST

Speak out when you see someone being bullied online.

Speak out when you see someone being bullied online.

Riddhi and Vasundhara Oswal

Riddhi and Vasundhara Oswal

With the pandemic leading to the rise of e-learning, isolation of people due to the lockdown, and more time spent online, experts find that cyberbullying has become a very serious issue among younger people. Siblings Riddhi and Vasundhara Oswal, who have experienced this first hand, launched a campaign called Stop The B to encourage people to speak out when they see someone being bullied. This is called being an active bystander or one who is aware of a situation that doesn’t feel right and doing something about it. This ranges from speaking out against nasty comments on someone’s post online or challenging hurtful behaviour, even if the bully is a friend or flagging it to a parent or teacher. The most important thing is to show the bully that his/her behaviour is unacceptable.

Riddhi recalls being being mocked and taunted at her previous school. “Some students would say nasty things about my ethnicity and personal beliefs and also isolate me. I got bullied on social media and online group chats. What was saddening was how other classmates who knew of this chose to remain silent.” Speaking to her family made her realise that this story needed to be told.

Online support

The absence of a supportive online community that one could turn to for help was one of the main reasons to start this campaign. “It’s a forum where you feel supported and even bystanders will be taught to develop empathy towards people being bullied, hopefully encouraging them to speak out more,” explains Vasundhara.

Anti-bullying experts like Dr. Sameer Hinduja, the co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Centre in the U.S., and Dr. Zoe Moody, a leading academic on anti-bullying in Switzerland, have helped Stop The B devise its campaigns. Former Brazilian football star Ronaldinho also shared a video and message in which he spoke about the seriousness of bullying.

“So far, we have had a great response from people who are sharing messages of support. We recently ran a competition in which people can share stories about what being an ‘active bystander’ means to them, and received many creative entries from across the globe,” adds Riddhi.

To encourage people to share their stories, and look back at when they too might have been unkind, the siblings created a ‘make good challenge’, in which people can write a note, or post a video reel apologising for a time when they think they might have upset someone or not done more to stop bullying.

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