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What is an upstander?

EdNews Parent Backgrounder

The term upstander is not found in the dictionary, but is being used increasingly in today’s discussion about bullying and school violence. The word was first used by a journalist named Samantha Power, executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard and author of A Problem from Hell: America in the Age of Genocide, to describe a person who will stand up to defend others who are being mistreated. This term is also used in discussions about the Holocaust and describing heroes of that time, those who acted courageously to defend or protect victims.

An upstander is a person who goes against the tide and will protect a victim from injustice. The word is contrasted with bystander, which describes a person who does nothing to help when someone is being mistreated. In the case of bullying this doesn’t necessarily mean a child needs to “take on the bully” in order to be an upstander. There are other ways students can stand up for their peers who are being bullied, such as telling a teacher or parent or reaching out in friendship to the victim.

– Laura Hampton

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