The role of adolescent peer witnesses as a means of confronting the bullying problem in schools

Date of Completion

January 2005


Education, Administration|Education, Educational Psychology




This study is grounded in literature suggesting that certain students, particularly those involved in service-learning experiences, may be inclined to step in and help peers in need of support during bullying episodes and that these students can serve as the building blocks for improving the climates of schools through a reduction in the number of incidences of bullying. The purpose of this study was to delve into the memories of high school seniors regarding their decision-making processes as witnesses of bullying during middle school and to describe the supports they identify which would have helped them intervene on behalf of peer victims of bullying. The findings are intended to inform the educational community about the issues regarding the role of peer witnesses of bullying as a means of reducing the incidence of bullying in schools. ^ The study revealed that students who participated in service-learning were not inclined to helping others in bullying situations. They did not necessarily think it was their responsibility to intervene, unless the bullying was clearly very serious, and even then, they were hesitant about intervening based upon the potential social risks intervening imposed upon them. Therefore the concept purported in the literature asserting that students have a responsibility to confront bullying in their schools is a powerful ideal, but one that may not play out in the reality of middle school students' lives. The reasons that students do not recognize or accept this responsibility must be addressed in a school's approach in addressing bullying if there is truly going to be any change in a school's climate related to bullying. A model for addressing bullying in schools is presented including factors which address belongingness, awareness, action, and self-advocacy. ^