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Victim Reports of Bystander Reactions to In-Person and Online Peer Harassment: A National Survey of Adolescents

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2015
13 pages
Based on the findings of a nationally representative survey of victims of peer harassment, this study analyzed data on victim reports of bystander reactions to their harassment, including those with whom victims confided about their harassment ("confidants").

In contrast to findings reported in previous literature, the current study found that bystander support for the victims of peer harassment and against the perpetrators was common. Although less common than bystander victim support, bystander support for the perpetrators is a concern, because it had the effect of increasing the distress experienced by the victim. The study also found that harassment victims told many others about their victimization. Although supportive reactions from confidants helped relieve victim distress, the study advises there is need to improve the help that confidants provide. The authors recommend improving bullying prevention and mitigation efforts by expanding education about the features and harms of peer harassment and the importance of bystander intervention on behalf of victims. Skill-building measures should also be pursued, so that bystanders and confidants (both adults and youth) can be more effective in their interventions on behalf of victims. Survey respondents were a nationally representative sample of youth (n = 791) ages 10-20 years old (51 percent female), who were interviewed by phone in the Technology Harassment and Victimization Survey. The survey was conducted from December 2013 to March 2014. The analysis focused on a sub-sample of respondents (n = 230) who reported at least one peer harassment incident in the past year. Youth reported on the number of harassment incidents as defined in the survey, incident characteristics, negative impact of the incident, bystander behavior during the incident, victim disclosure of the incident, and demographic variables. 5 tables and 25 references

Date Published: June 1, 2015