Bystanders and intervention

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Bystanders and intervention

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When we think about the bystanders, and remember bystanders are 60% of elementary school and middle school students, we do have to understand that we have to give them skills to intervene. We know that the bystanders are actually the audience to bullying, and bullying continues because they do not leave the situation. What we do know from research is that younger kids are more likely to intervene, so we should continue to have conversations with very young kids about the importance of helping a victim. We also know that girls are more likely to intervene. But what we forget as adults is that kids that intervene will do so only if it's seen as a popular, cool thing to do in a school, and also if their friends would support them in this. So it's not as simple as these intervention programs saying to kids, "Do the right thing, help out the victim. Be supportive." We need to first shift the peer norm in supportive intervention where it's seen as cool to go and help the victim.

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Dorothy Espelage

Professor of Child Development

Dorothy L. Espelage, PhD, is a Professor of Child Development in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  She is a University Scholar and has fellow status in Division 17 (Counseling Psychology) of the American Psychological Association.  She earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Indiana University in 1997. She has conducted research on bullying, homophobic teasing, sexual harassment, and dating violence for the last 18 years. As a result, she presents regularly at regional, national, and international conferences and is author on over 90 professional publications.  She is co-editor of four published books including Bullying in North American Schools: A Social-Ecological Perspective on Prevention and Intervention and International Handbook of Bullying published by Routledge. She is Associate Editor of the Journal of Counseling Psychology. She has presented thousands of workshops and in-service training seminars for teachers, administrators, counselors, and social workers across the U.S.  Her research focuses on translating empirical findings into prevention and intervention programming.  She is currently funded by the CDC for a randomized clinical trial of a bullying prevention program in 36 middle schools. She authored a 2011 White House Brief on bullying among LGBTQ youth and attended the White House Conference in 2011. She is also funded by National Science Foundation to develop better methods to assess bullying among adolescents and CDC and NIJ are funding a longitudinal study of predictors of bullying and dating violence among adolescents. Dr. Espelage has appeared on many television news and talk shows, including The Today Show; CNN; CBS Evening News; The Oprah Winfrey Show, Anderson, Anderson 360 and has been quoted in the national print press, including Time Magazine, USA Today, People, Boston Globe, and the Wall Street Journal. Her dedicated team of undergraduate and graduate students are committed to the dissemination of the research through various mechanisms.

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