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Matt Peck

Equipping Students to Be Heroes Against Bullying


School bullying is a significant problem in the United States, with one out of four students reporting being a target of bullying. Targets of bullying report a wide range of socio-emotional consequences, including anxiety, post-traumatic stress, depressive symptoms, poor mental and general health, non-suicidal self-injury, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts. The majority of students (80%) report observing bullying as a bystander. A bystander is a student who witnesses a bullying situation but is not the target or the perpetrator. Researchers have also established mental health risks associated with witnessing bullying including anxiety and depressive symptoms. Researchers have utilized the Bystander Intervention Model to conceptualize bullying bystander behavior. The five-step model includes Notice the Event, Interpret the Event as an Emergency, Accept Responsibility, Know How to Act, and Decision to Intervene. The purpose of this study was to examine changes in the Bystander Intervention Model among middle school students (N = 79) trained in a bullying bystander intervention. We also assessed which of the steps were uniquely associated with defending behavior post-training. Results among bystanders indicated a significant increase in Know How to Act, Notice the Event, and Decision to Intervene, as well as a significant increase in defending behavior. Finally, Notice the Event and Decision to Intervene were uniquely associated with defending behavior post-training.