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What is the role of peers in bullying?

A Canadian study found that the behaviour of peers does seem to encourage bullying incidents in the playground. During the incidents, 21% of the time peers actively encouraged the bullying by joining in physically or verbally. 54% of the time the peers 'passively reinforced' the bully by just standing by and watching. It is suggested that by standing and watching they were providing the bully with an audience and also sending the message (whether they realised it or not) that they supported the bullying. Peers spent only 25% of the time trying to stop the bullying.
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Article details

P O'Connell, D Pepler and W Craig (1999) 'Peer Involvement in Bullying: insights and challenges' in 'Journal of Adolescence', Volume 22, pages 437-452.
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