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What are the feelings of bystanders?

In 1990, over 6,000 school children in Sheffield took part in a study of bullying. When asked how they felt about children who bullied, about half said they found it hard to understand why pupils bullied, or they found it upsetting.
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Article details

I Whitney and P Smith (1993) 'A Survey of the Nature and Extent of Bullying in Junior/Middle and Secondary Schools' in 'Educational Research', Volume 35, Number 1, Spring.
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Author details

Peter SmithProfessor Peter K Smith is Head of the Unit for School and Family Studies, Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths College, London. He has been involved in bullying research for a number of years and has published widely on this topic.

Peter Smith may be contacted by email, and the website of the Unit for School and Family Studies at Goldsmiths College may be found here.

An Australian study involving over 600 children found that most of the pupils felt that it was right to help children who were being bullied. Most also said that they admired someone who stood up for the child who was being picked on. Sadly however, a small number of children had no sympathy for victims. They took the line that victims deserved it and that they shouldn't complain about it. Some even thought that it was funny to watch. The study also found that girls tended to be more sympathetic towards victims than boys. However, as they get older (between eight and fifteen years) girls and boys become less sympathetic. According to a later study, this drop was halted in the late teen years, when children became more sympathetic again towards the victim.
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Article details

K Rigby (1996) 'Bullying in Schools and What to Do About It', Victoria, Australia: The Australian Council for Educational Research Limited.
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Author details

Ken RigbyKen Rigby is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Social Psychology and an educational consultant at the University of South Australia. He has been involved in major studies of bullying in Australia and has published widely on this topic. For more information about Dr Rigby and his work see the bullying pages here. Ken may be contacted by e-mail.
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