Bystander behavior of adolescents in school bullying: A family functioning perspective
School bullying has become a significant social issue worldwide. Studies have shown that school bullying can damage not just the mental health of the bully and the victim, but also bystanders’ mental health.
Most of us will have witnessed bullying when we were at school. Some of us are now parents, teachers, or other professionals working with children, and dealing with bullying from a new perspective. But which adolescents are more likely to defend the victim? And what kind of interventions will really help?
Deng, Bi and Wang (2021) focused on the role that ‘family functioning’ plays in whether or not an adolescent will become a defender – someone who supports the victim and attempts to stop bullying behavior.
I was fascinated to see the significant link between a healthy family dynamic, and an adolescent who was prepared to step in to stop bullying. The authors also cited a study which showed that in most cases, defenders are able to stop the bullying behavior of others within 10 seconds. A fact which may encourage our young ones to act.
The authors provide practical suggestions for bullying intervention in schools, including educating our young people about the importance of bystanders in bullying incidents. They also recognize the importance of helping parents to build healthy family relationships, so they can model positive behavior to their children.
Strong families make strong communities. Each of us can play a role in decreasing bullying behavior wherever we see it occur.
Kelly Baildon | Publishing Editor