You’ve probably heard the word upstanding used in some common phrases. “Dave is an upstanding citizen.” “Sue is an upstanding member of the school’s faculty.” An Upstander definition, in a bullying situation, is someone who sees a problem and takes action.

Upstander Definition vs. Bystander

An upstander does not join in when someone is being bullied. Instead an upstander gets help from a trusted adult and supports the child being bullied in walking away. Sometimes they even stand up to the bully themselves. A bystander is someone who knows the bullying is happening, but does nothing to stop it. Bystanders often join in, or laugh at what is happening to avid peer rejection or getting bullied themselves. However, being a bystander can encourage bullying because it shows that a bully’s actions are socially acceptable.

Going from Bystander to Upstander

Becoming an upstander is courageous. It shows the victims of bullying that there are people out there who can and will do the right thing. It also shows the bullies that their actions and behaviors are not acceptable. Going from being a bystander to being an upstander may take time. It may take weeks for an upstander to recognize bullying behaviors causing distress to others before they can help.

Things an Upstander Can Do

There are many ways to start becoming an upstander and help stop the bullying that is happening in front of us. Below is a list of ways that an upstander can take action.

If you know of someone who is being bullied, practice upstander skills. Start by not joining in, and eventually you can ask the bully to stop or divert their attention. If this step seems too big to take, then seek the help of a trusted adult. Reporting bullying to a trusted adult is not tattling because you’re not trying to get someone in trouble, but instead are reporting an issue to help the victim get out of trouble. Being an upstander online is called digital citizenship. Additionally, monitor your kids’ social media accounts and text messages with Bark to get alerts when online issues arise so you can help your kids be upstanders.

Upstanders Can Help Peers

People who are bullied need support so they do not feel alone. That is why programs like the Pop Culture Hero Coalition are so important. Co-founded by author Carrie Goldman, the Coalition uses the universal appeal of comics, film & TV to create anti-bullying programs in schools. They teach kids the upstander definition and how to be heroes and upstanders in their school community. By showing the person who was bullied that they support them and that not everyone is a bully, an upstander can help out their peers a lot!

What is Ask.fm?

Ask.fm is a free app and website that allows users to post anonymous comments and questions to a person’s profile. You can sign up by creating an account through Ask.fm or sign in using a Facebook or Twitter account. The app makes it easy to share content on other social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Users have the option of cross-posting questions and answers on their Facebook and Twitter feeds and even operate the Ask.fm app from within Facebook.

How Ask.fm Works

After creating an account Ask.fm users have the option to fill out more personal information and pictures of the user. Check to ensure that your child does not put personal information on their Ask.fm profile. Once the link is shared on the internet, the profile is public and anyone can ask anonymous comments or questions. Users can also search for people they already know and enter usernames and emails to find friends.

Additionally, once a profile goes public, users can “follow” other users and ask questions, but unlike Twitter, for example, a user can never know who is following them, just their overall number of followers. The home page is a stream of questions and comments, and there are daily and random questions to answer on the site. In fact, a user can choose to ask the question anonymously or allow their profile information to show when they opt out of the ‘ask anonymously’ function.

Is Ask.fm Safe?

The main concern with Ask.fm is the anonymous content and that there is no monitoring by Ask.fm. Since the site is allows for anonymous, unmonitored content, it is increasingly being used for cyberbullying, sexualized content, and other abuses. The easy integration with Facebook and Twitter make the content extremely easy to access.

Let’s be honest, with an underdeveloped frontal cortex lobe which results in impulse control issues, most kids and teens (and yes, even some adults) have impulse control issues. Apps like this do not generally result in positive interactions.

Privacy, Blocking & Reporting

There are privacy settings for Ask.fm. A user can go to the privacy tab and select from different setting options to make the account less accessible and less anonymous. You can choose:

To block a user, navigate to the right hand side of each question and click on the small block symbol, choose your reason for blocking and click the Block button. Once blocked you will not get questions from that person. However, even if a user is blocked that person can still access your profile and view other interactions. Users can also remove questions on their profile by clicking on the cross in the top right hand corner.

Additionally, you can make reports of inappropriate content even if you are not a user. If you move your mouse over a post on a profile, there is an option to click on a drop down arrow which allows you to report a post for four different reasons: spam or scam, hate speech, violence, and pornographic content.

Helping Protect Kids Online

Bark is not currently able to monitor Ask.fm, but we can tell you which apps your child has downloaded. Anonymous chat apps can pose risks to your child, to it’s important to start a conversation that will help them understand how to stay as safe as possible online. Bark monitors texts, email, YouTube, and 30+ apps and platforms for potential issues like cyberbullying, sexual content, online predators, suicidal ideation, threats of violence, and more. Sign up today to get a free, one-week trial!

Parent and child image after suicide attempt

**This blog post was updated on September 23, 2021.**

Navigating the days and weeks after your child’s suicide attempt isn’t easy. Your entire family is affected, and most of all, your child will need all the support you can give. Feelings of guilt, shame, anger, sadness, and shock are all common. But no matter how dark things may seem right now, try to remember that hope and recovery are possible. 

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through some of the most important things you can do to help support your child and help them heal. At the bottom of this page, you’ll also find links to organizations that can help guide you through this difficult time.

Get Them Professional Help

The most important thing you should do is get your child in to see your family doctor, a psychiatrist, or a psychologist. School counselors may also be an additional resource. Oftentimes, major depressive disorder can be the driving cause of suicidal ideation, so treating the underlying cause is crucial. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, therapy and medication are two options that may provide help. Therapy in particular can teach your child healthy coping skills when they feel distress or emotional pain in the future.

Listen Unconditionally

Talk with your child and listen to everything they want to share about what’s happened. This includes things like how they feel now, how they felt before, and why they felt unable to come to you when they were struggling. 

Remember, you don’t have to understand everything to listen and support. Even if you don’t know what to say or how to respond, giving your child all of your attention and support can mean the world. Tell your child you love them and are here for them — no matter what.

Avoid saying things like:

Create a Healthy Space to Heal

Addressing any underlying mental health concerns like depression will underscore everything your family does to help your child right now. But there are also small things you can do to assist in their recovery. Make sure they are eating regularly, and provide healthy, nourishing foods. Encourage them to engage in physical activity they enjoy. If they’ve been prescribed any medication by a medical professional, ensure they don’t miss a dose.

Make a Safety Plan Together

A safety plan is a written document that your child and family can turn to in times of suicidal crisis. It provides immediate information that could possibly save their life. This template is a good place to start, and we recommend sitting down together to fill it out. Safety plans include:

Acknowledge Your Feelings

As you work to help support your child through this stressful and scary time, remember to take care of yourself, as well. What you’re going through is one of the hardest things a parent can deal with. You may feel alone, guilty, frightened, angry, or any combination of these and more. Talking to a trusted friend, finding a support group, or trying therapy can all help you stay resilient. You can’t pour from an empty well, and right now your child needs you more than ever.

Reduce Risks at Home

Helping to protect your child from another suicide attempt is incredibly important. Research shows that of individuals who die by suicide, 80% had an attempt within the previous year.  Consider removing all weapons from the home — especially guns. Lock up any medicines that have the potential to be used for an overdose. Try to keep substances like alcohol and drugs away from your child, as well. Being intoxicated can exacerbate feelings of hopelessness and despair.

Know the Warning Signs of a Suicide Attempt

Familiarize yourself with all of the different potential red flags of suicidal thinking. The earlier you may notice a change, the quicker you can intervene and get your child help.

Helpful Resources

There are many nonprofits and organizations dedicated to helping families and individuals affected by a suicide attempt, including: