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Bystander motivation in bullying incidents: To intervene or not to intervene?

Thornberg, Robert; Tenenbaum, Laura; Varjas, Kris; Meyers, Joel; Jungert, Tomas LU and Vanegas, Gina (2012) In Western Journal of Emergency Medicine 13(3). p.247-252
Abstract
Introduction: This research sought to extend knowledge about bystanders in bullying situations with a focus on the motivations that lead them to different responses. The 2 primary goals of this study were to investigate the reasons for children's decisions to help or not to help a victim when witnessing bullying, and to generate a grounded theory (or conceptual framework) of bystander motivation in bullying situations. Methods: Thirty students ranging in age from 9 to 15 years (M =11.9; SD = 1.7) from an elementary and middle school in the southeastern United States participated in this study. Open- ended, semistructured interviews were used, and sessions ranged from 30 to 45 minutes. We conducted qualitative methodology and analyses to... (More)
Introduction: This research sought to extend knowledge about bystanders in bullying situations with a focus on the motivations that lead them to different responses. The 2 primary goals of this study were to investigate the reasons for children's decisions to help or not to help a victim when witnessing bullying, and to generate a grounded theory (or conceptual framework) of bystander motivation in bullying situations. Methods: Thirty students ranging in age from 9 to 15 years (M =11.9; SD = 1.7) from an elementary and middle school in the southeastern United States participated in this study. Open- ended, semistructured interviews were used, and sessions ranged from 30 to 45 minutes. We conducted qualitative methodology and analyses to gain an in-depth understanding of children's perspectives and concerns when witnessing bullying. Results: A key finding was a conceptual framework of bystander motivation to intervene in bullying situations suggesting that deciding whether to help or not help the victim in a bullying situation depends on how bystanders define and evaluate the situation, the social context, and their own agency. Qualitative analysis revealed 5 themes related to bystander motives and included: interpretation of harm in the bullying situation, emotional reactions, social evaluating, moral evaluating, and intervention self-efficacy. Conclusion: Given the themes that emerged surrounding bystanders' motives to intervene or abstain from intervening, respondents reported 3 key elements that need to be confirmed in future research and that may have implications for future work on bullying prevention. These included: first, the potential importance of clear communication to children that adults expect bystanders to intervene when witnessing bullying; second, the potential of direct education about how bystanders can intervene to increase children's self-efficacy as defenders of those who are victims of bullying; and third, the assumption that it may be effective to encourage children's belief that bullying is morally wrong. (Less)
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author
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Western Journal of Emergency Medicine
volume
13
issue
3
pages
247 - 252
publisher
University of California
external identifiers
  • scopus:84865705673
ISSN
1936-900X
DOI
10.5811/westjem.2012.3.11792
language
English
LU publication?
no
id
917511c3-2f32-46af-b1c2-e16f52021eb1 (old id 5368533)
date added to LUP
2015-05-20 11:07:09
date last changed
2017-10-08 03:07:37
@article{917511c3-2f32-46af-b1c2-e16f52021eb1,
  abstract     = {Introduction: This research sought to extend knowledge about bystanders in bullying situations with a focus on the motivations that lead them to different responses. The 2 primary goals of this study were to investigate the reasons for children's decisions to help or not to help a victim when witnessing bullying, and to generate a grounded theory (or conceptual framework) of bystander motivation in bullying situations. Methods: Thirty students ranging in age from 9 to 15 years (M =11.9; SD = 1.7) from an elementary and middle school in the southeastern United States participated in this study. Open- ended, semistructured interviews were used, and sessions ranged from 30 to 45 minutes. We conducted qualitative methodology and analyses to gain an in-depth understanding of children's perspectives and concerns when witnessing bullying. Results: A key finding was a conceptual framework of bystander motivation to intervene in bullying situations suggesting that deciding whether to help or not help the victim in a bullying situation depends on how bystanders define and evaluate the situation, the social context, and their own agency. Qualitative analysis revealed 5 themes related to bystander motives and included: interpretation of harm in the bullying situation, emotional reactions, social evaluating, moral evaluating, and intervention self-efficacy. Conclusion: Given the themes that emerged surrounding bystanders' motives to intervene or abstain from intervening, respondents reported 3 key elements that need to be confirmed in future research and that may have implications for future work on bullying prevention. These included: first, the potential importance of clear communication to children that adults expect bystanders to intervene when witnessing bullying; second, the potential of direct education about how bystanders can intervene to increase children's self-efficacy as defenders of those who are victims of bullying; and third, the assumption that it may be effective to encourage children's belief that bullying is morally wrong.},
  author       = {Thornberg, Robert and Tenenbaum, Laura and Varjas, Kris and Meyers, Joel and Jungert, Tomas and Vanegas, Gina},
  issn         = {1936-900X},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {247--252},
  publisher    = {University of California},
  series       = {Western Journal of Emergency Medicine},
  title        = {Bystander motivation in bullying incidents: To intervene or not to intervene?},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.5811/westjem.2012.3.11792},
  volume       = {13},
  year         = {2012},
}