Literature Review: Behavioural Responses of Student Bystanders in Situations of Bullying

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Bullying is a serious occurrence that is plaguing youth all over the globe. Bullying, a form of aggression, can be experienced in four forms: physical, verbal, social or cyber (Oh & Hazler, 2009; Trach, Hymel, Waterhouse & Neale, 2010). However, all bullying is composed of three specific concepts—causing their victims harm, possessing greater power then their victims and repetition (Oh & Hazler, 2009). Read into the definition of “bullying” and one would simply identify a bully and a victim yet they would likely fail to identify a key influence: bystanders. It is their impact on bullying that can create serious problems therefore understanding the bystander’s role is vital in trying to decrease the occurrence of bullying (Oh & Hazler …show more content…
Conversely, defenders are the individuals who intervene and use anti-bullying or prosocial behaviour, meaning that they voluntarily act in ways that benefit others (Oh & Hazler, 2009;Thornberg, 2007). Trach, Hymel, Waterhouse and Neale (2010) and Thornberg (2007) recall statistics that suggest bystanders use 54% of their time to reinforce the bully by passively watching, 21% to actively encourage the bully and only 25% to intervene and defend the bully. It is important to understand these categories because they help further understand the influence of these bystanders and their reasoning for their behaviours.
Although all of the research is interested in bystander behaviour, the approach of the researcher seems to differ in that they are either interested in predictors of behaviour or the reasoning behind bystander behaviour. Predictors such as gender, grade, past experiences with bullying, type of bullying witnessed and friendship dynamics have displayed some significant trends (Oh & Hazler, 2009; Trach, Hymel, Waterhouse and Neale, 2010). For example, researchers identify strong and consistent trends that indicate girls are more likely to support victims with positive actions while boys were more likely to report doing nothing (Oh & Hazler, 2009; Trach, Hymel, Waterhouse and Neale, 2010). Furthermore, older students were far more passive or aggressive in actions while younger students were more willing to take…