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Identifying Factors Influencing Students’ Intervention in Bullying; NSYSU Research Published on International Journal
Publish date : 2017-02-22

Why do students choose to be outsiders when peers are bullied? NSYSU Assistant Professor Li-Ming Chen and his research team collaborate with Australia Monash University Professor Lennon Chang to explore the determinants and process of students’ willingness to intervene in bullying incidents. After interviewing 24 junior high school students, the research finds that students may not intervene in bullying because they do not perceive the incident to be severe, feel that they have neither the responsibility nor the ability, or feel that they are not friends with the victim. The finding of the research is published in the journal School Psychology International.


NSYSU President Ying-Yao Cheng and Assistant Professor Li-Ming Chen formed a research team, collaborated with Australian scholars, and interviewed junior high school students who have been involved in school bullying incidents. The interviewees included 12 defenders and 12 outsiders. The results showed that after witnessing bullying incidents, if the students perceive that the behavior is not severe, feel that the incident is unrelated to oneself or is not of one’s responsibility, dislike the victim, blame the victim, or feel that one is not a friend of the victim, the students will not be willing to assist and will choose to become a bystander. On the other hand, if the students perceive the incident is very severe, feel that they have the responsibility to intervene, sympathize with the victim, acknowledge the victim’s innocence, are friends with the victim, or wish to maintain the harmony of the class, the students will be eager to help.


Chen emphasized that how to involve bystander students in becoming defenders is one of the key elements to prevent school bullying. If students are under the influence of low perceived severity, low responsibility, high hatred, high denouncement, low self-efficacy, or low friendship, they will not be willing to assist the victims. Therefore, school bullying prevention strategies should increase students’ responsibility and perceived severity of bullying behaviors, decrease students’ tendency to denounce victims and improve the interpersonal relationships of victims.


In addition, Chen also highlighted that defenders might be questioned as to why they interfered or threatened. There may also be the possibility of students who want to intervene but do not know how. Thus, students with high popularity or good interpersonal relationships should be encouraged to become defenders. Schools should provide intervening strategies and trainings, enhance students’ empathy, and provide counseling to victims. Students should be encouraged to report related incidents to teachers, and schools should provide suitable assistance and create an “everyone cares” environment to prevent school bullying.

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