Reactions to The Bystander’s Dilemma

It was standing room only on Tuesday night, April 10, for the Bystander’s Dilemma program at the Princeton public library.

 Grete Cuyler, editor of the Princeton Patch, did a wonderful job on writing about — and photographing — the program. The link is here  and it includes her pictures, including the one at left. Her title: Skits Highlight Role of the Bystander in Bullying. 

Here is another “take” on the program, this one from  
Libby Zinman Schwartz, Ed.D., psychotherapist and educational consultant. As below. 

 The Bystander’s Dilemma program, offered at the Princeton Public Library, on April 10, was an outstanding example of what a community of people–in this case community members and school staff and students–can do when they want to rid their homes, schools and streets from the blight of prejudice, bigotry and intolerance.
    This was a rigorously designed program, complete with skits, interactive audience sharing and open discussion about the dangers of bullying which is shaped by prejudice, bigotry and intolerance: the walls behind which bullies conceal themselves.
    The students were the stars as they performed their roles of the bully and the targeted victim, and the by-stander, upon whom so much responsibility rests to respond in a constructive way when he or she sees someone being bullied.
    The skits were exciting and provocative and elicited responses from young and old in the audience. A list of common words to describe these three roles played by students was placed on the “stage” so everyone had an opportunity to express the emotions that were felt when the targeted victim was being tormented by the bully.
    It seemed that hearts and minds were profoundly engaged in this format organized to allow the audience to empathize which all three: the bully, the victim and the by-stander. Indeed, the focus was heavily directed on the latter, the by-stander, whom everyone realized must take some kind of stand in order to eventually stamp out the cruelty of bullying.
    Many alternative ways were described as possible reactions the by-stander could use “in the moment” of a situation that justified intervention to literally “save” the victim often from a lifetime of painful memories and even trauma.
    Congratulations to all the groups and individuals that worked hard to produce such an intelligent and emotionally uplifting program. Feelings and thoughts were expressed and the seeds of compassion and good will that were sowed throughout the evening will have a lasting effect.
Libby Zinman Schwartz, Ed.D.
psychotherapist and educational consultant

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