Defending victims: What does it take to intervene in bullying and how is it rewarded by peers?

van der Ploeg, R., Kretschmer, T., Salmivalli, C. & Veenstra, R. Dec-2017 In : Journal of School Psychology. 65, p. 1-10 10 p.

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  • Defending victims

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Defending is considered important in reducing bullying and victimization in schools. Yet, the prevalence of defending is quite low and there is little insight into aspects that explain why students intervene in bullying situations. The current study used a longitudinal design to simultaneously examine the antecedents and status outcomes of defending behavior. It was expected that affective and social-cognitive factors explain involvement in defending. Moreover, it was proposed that defending would be rewarded with popularity among peers, but only for defenders who were not victimized themselves. Unconflated multilevel path models were used and data came from students in grades 4-6 of Finnish elementary schools (N=4209 students from 210 classrooms and 38 schools; Mage 11.25; 50% boys). Affective empathy and students' self-efficacy beliefs were predictive of defending behavior over time, whereas cognitive empathy was not. Additionally, defenders increased their popularity among their peers. No substantial differences between victims and non-victims were found. This pattern of results suggests that, irrespective of victim status, specific children are more likely to defend in bullying situations and are rewarded with increased popularity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of School Psychology
StatePublished - Dec-2017


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