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What is the role of peers in bullying?

A study of over 500 pupils in Finland looked at what children in a group (for example a school class) did when bullying occurred. It was found that although most of the children were not directly attacking the victim, most behaved in ways which allowed the bullying to happen/made it possible. The study found that some children in the group actively supported the bully, some encouraged the bullying by standing and watching, perhaps also laughing or jeering, some tried to stay out of things and some took action to support the victim and to try to the stop the bullying. The study also found that the children were in some ways aware of the role they played in the group. However they did not seem to realise the extent of their participation in direct bullying behaviour, and tended to think they defended the victim or stayed outside things more than they actually did.
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Article details

C Salmivalli, K Lagerspetz, K Björkqvist, K Österman and A Kaukiainen (1996) 'Bullying as a Group Process: participant roles and their relations to social status within the group' in 'Aggressive Behavior', Volume 22, pages 1-15.
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Graph details

Figure 1, page 6 in the above article.
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Christian SalmivalliAuthor details

Dr Christian Salmivalli works at the Department of Psychology in the University of Turku, Finland. Her research interests include aggression in children and young people, bullying in school and interventions to prevent it and also self-esteem and social skills. For more information go here.
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