Prosocial Bystander Behavior in Bullying Dynamics: Assessing the Impact of Social Capital

Caroline B R Evans, Paul R. Smokowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

Individuals who observe a bullying event, but are not directly involved as a bully or victim, are referred to as bystanders. Prosocial bystanders are those individuals who actively intervene in bullying dynamics to support the victim and this prosocial behavior often ends the bullying. The current study examines how social capital in the form of social support, community engagement, mental health functioning, and positive school experiences and characteristics is associated with the likelihood of engaging in prosocial bystander behavior in a large sample (N = 5752; 51.03 % female) of racially/ethnically diverse rural youth. It was hypothesized that social capital would be associated with an increased likelihood of engaging in prosocial bystander behavior. Following multiple imputation, an ordered logistic regression with robust standard errors was run. The hypothesis was partially supported and results indicated that social capital in the form of friend and teacher support, ethnic identity, religious orientation, and future optimism were significantly associated with an increased likelihood of engaging in prosocial bystander behavior. Contrary to the hypothesis, a decreased rate of self-esteem was significantly associated with an increased likelihood of engaging in prosocial bystander behavior. The findings highlight the importance of positive social relationships and community engagement in increasing prosocial bystander behavior and ultimately decreasing school bullying. Implications were discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2289-2307
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Volume44
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 7 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Bystander
  • Rural
  • School bullying
  • Social capital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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