Dear Debby,

 I recently got into a lot of trouble for “bystanding” a bullying incident when I wasn’t even in the chat when it happened. My school has not allowed me to defend my case and is now threatening a suspension. I’m a pretty good kid and I’m usually not faced with these issues. I’ve been contemplating a lot of thoughts and I’ve gone into a really bad state of mind. Any tips to help?


Iri Fragable


Hi Iri Fragable,

     Even the good kids get in trouble sometimes. Having gone through the education system myself, (and spending a fair amount of time in the principal’s office), I’ve seen it.  I’m not saying I was a good kid. Far from it. I’m saying it happens, and I’ve seen it.

     My first piece of advice is to speak out, and keep speaking out. Keep pestering them until they hear you. Do you have evidence or screenshots that you weren’t there? Do you have a parent/guardian, sibling or roommate who can verify this information? If so, use them to your advantage. Keep fighting, don’t let them forget that you were not there.

     If this doesn’t work, you may just have to accept the punishment. My experience with the education system is that they do not care about you. They only care about their image. Whether you have done something wrong or not, once they have made a choice they will stick by it rather than admit their wrongdoing.

     Also, let’s consider you were a bystander and didn’t want to admit it to me.  I wasn’t there, I have no way of knowing but I do believe you when you say you weren’t there. However, let’s just pretend.  Besides, there may be those reading who have been in similar situations and are guilty of what they were accused of.  

     That does not make you less of a person.  Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes, mistakes come with repercussions and when you sit back and think about it, a suspension isn’t so bad.  I’m not saying that it doesn’t feel horrible, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s much smaller than you think. 

     I’ll be honest.  I have been suspended before.  Both when it was my fault and when I was blamed and no one heard me out.   This does not make me less of a person. I was still able to graduate. I did not lose any friends. No one who was important to me felt any less of me. No one in any of my jobs or anyone I’ve dealt with has ever cared about my suspensions because they know that that is not who I am now.

     That is not who you are by the sounds of it, and if it is, it’s not who you want to be. Either way, this may be a situation you can look back at as either a measure of growth, a funny story, an irritating story, or a memory you will forget a few years down the road.

     No matter what the case, I wish you the best of luck.