At least 30% of school-going children are bullied each year. This includes incidents of name-calling, teasing, inappropriate sexual comments and other aggressive behaviour. The abuser is at fault, of course, but sometimes, by-standers also contribute significantly to the problem.

Fast food chain Burger King is campaigning to end bullying with its new advertisement (above) Bullying Jr, to mark National Bullying Prevention Month in the US. In an unconventional social experiment, hidden cameras record the proceedings at a Burger King outlet with a group of schoolchildren (who are the actors) and customers who are unaware of the setup. There are two scenarios depicted, with two victims of bullying: a school student, “High School Jr”, and, believe it or not, a burger “Whopper Jr”.

The experiment yielded an unexpected result. People seem to care more about the “bullied” burger than the bullied child. Only a handful of customers intervene in the scuffle involving the schoolboy.

As some of the children featured in the video explain, they have to overcome a lot of personal struggles before they can gather the courage to stand up to a bully. “Getting caught up in bullying is so easy because you’re just glad you’re not being bullied,” one student explains.

But they also reflect on their experiences to realise that the turning point only came with support: “Something I’ll never forget is my friend standing up for me.”