Determinants of Helping the Victim in Situations of Peer Violence
Keywords:bullying, helping the victim, empathy, social skills, self-efficacy
AbstractAlthough bystanders do not actively participate in situations of peer violence, their reactions can play an important role in protecting the victim. Therefore, this paper aims to examine to what extent social skills, recognition of appropriate reactions in peer violence situations, and self-efficacy and subjective norms related to victim protection can predict the helping behaviour. Students aged 12 to 14 (M = 12.69; SD = 0.72) from ten European schools (from Spain, Malta, UK and Ireland) participated in the study. From the initial sample of 359 students, 226 students (54.9% of girls) stated that were exclusively bystanders in bullying situations (and not victims and/or bullies). In this paper, we have focused on two groups of bystanders: those who report that they are trying to help victims in situations of peer violence (70.8%) and those who do not do anything in situations of peer violence, but think that they should help the victim (29.2%). The participants filled out an on-line questionnaire with teachers'supervision. It consisted of a series of scales, constructed or adapted for the purpose of this research: Bully/victim questionnaire, Empathy scale, Social skills scale, Selfefficacy and subjective norm for protecting the victim scale, and Questionnaire about the appropriateness of reaction in a bullying situation. Hierarchical logistic regression was conducted to check the contribution of studied variables in the prediction of helping behaviour. Results show that the examined variables explain between 18% and 25% of the variance in helping behaviour. Recognizing the appropriateness of reactions in peer violence situations (the appropriateness of the assertive, the inappropriateness of passive and aggressive reactions) and self-efficacy in victim protection are significant positive predictors of helping behaviour. The obtained results point to the importance of raising awareness of appropriate bystander reactions in situations of peer violence and enhancing self-efficacy to increase the likelihood of helping the victim.