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NCJ Number: 205903 Find in a Library
Title: Students as Bystanders to Sexual Coercion: How Would They React and Why?
Journal: Youth Studies Australia  Volume:23  Issue:2  Dated:June 2004  Pages:11-16
Author(s): Ken Rigby; Bruce Johnson
Date Published: June 2004
Page Count: 6
Publisher: http://www.acys.info/ysa 
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: Australia
Annotation: This study examined how often sexually coercive behavior that involves a boy as perpetrator and a girl as victim was observed by early secondary school students in coeducational secondary schools in South Australia, as well as whether bystanders were likely to react to such behavior by objecting to the harassment, encouraging the perpetrator, ignoring the incident, or informing a teacher.
Abstract: As part of a classroom activity, 200 eighth and ninth grade students were shown an audiovisual presentation of a cartoon in which a girl was being sexually molested by a boy in the presence of bystanders. The voices of children who assisted in making the video were heard speaking the words. The narrator in the video asked how often students had seen "something like this" happening at their school. The subjects responded in a questionnaire, completed anonymously, using the categories: "every day," "most days in the week," "once or twice a week," and "hardly ever." Subsequently, the students viewed scenes in which bystanders reacted in different ways, either supporting the girl, supporting the boy, ignoring what was happening, or telling a teacher. For each scenario, students were asked whether they would, as bystanders, react in this way. Other measures included on the questionnaire were the Attitudes to Victims Scale and the Social Desirability Scale. The study found that more than half of the students indicated that events similar to the one portrayed occurred regularly at their school. Regarding the response to such incidents, just over half said they would directly object to the boy's action, and nearly one-fifth reported they would seek help for the girl from a teacher; however, one-fourth of the students indicated they would ignore what was happening, and 1 in 40 said they would support the boy. Analysis of the findings concluded that students' "attitude to victims," but not their gender, predicted the likelihood that they would express a readiness to help the girl. The authors advise that promotion of more caring attitudes in students toward the victims of peer abuse will encourage positive intervention action by both boy and girl bystanders when they observe sexual harassment at school. 3 tables and 15 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile victims
Index Term(s): Adolescent attitudes; Female victims; Foreign criminal justice research; Sexual harassment; Sexually abused adolescents; Witness intervention in crime
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=205903

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