This case has displayed many stereotypical behaviors relating to victim blaming and failure of people to intervene (bystander intervention).
- At first, the Miami Dolphins said they knew of no such bullying behavior. Thus, defending their organization before completing an extensive investigation.
- Early on, someone leaked implications Jonathon Martin was struggling with “Mental Health” issues – thus shifting the focus onto the victim instead of holding the person engaging in the bullying responsible.
- From multiple reports, it appears players saw some of the bullying behavior take place and did nothing. They just didn’t call it bullying. They considered it being “playful.”
Let’s focus on the failure of others to take action. When discussing bystander intervention, people often say, “A lot of people do not intervene because they fear the confrontation – the fear to their physical safety if they step in.”
This case involves lots of physically strong individuals NOT intervening. Even if you say, “Have you seen how big Richie Incognito is? Anyone would be scared of confronting him!” Except that argument falls short when you think 5 other lineman on the Miami Dolphins combined (coming together to do good by intervening) would have easily helped overcome the fear that comes with one-on-one confrontation (bystander intervention).
The lesson? TEAM UP to intervene. Help reduce your fears by having a TEAM of people speak out together and be willing to address the person exhibiting the bullying behaviors.
I highly encourage the NFL to start a new educational campaign on bullying and bystander intervention named “TEAM UP: Help a Teammate” and then define we all have teammates in various aspects of our lives who NEED us to step up and make a positive difference.