The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the ‘bystander effect’ known to occur in emergency situations is effective in bullying situations through examination of the individual experiences of 467 middle- and high-school students. While the bystander effect was not found to be valid in bullying situations, there were significant differences in factors influencing a bystander’s defending behavior in terms of the presence of other bystanders. In cases where bullying was witnessed in the presence of other bystanders, factors such as one’s previous experience as a perpetrator, anti-social behavior, level of harm, relationship to the victim and popularity had an effect on the defending behavior of bystanders. On the other hand, in the absence of other bystanders, one’s previous experience as a victim, level of empathy, and perceived control had an effect on the defending behavior of bystanders. The implications of these results for an effective intervention for school bullying in terms of bystanders are discussed.
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- bystander effect
- defending behavior