Peter H Brown Clinical Psychologist

Psychology News & Resources

“I Saw It Happen”: Children Who Witness Bullying Can Be Traumatized Too

Students who witness bullying of their peers may suffer more psychologically than the victim or the bullies.

Read The Original Research Paper (PDF)

2002 students ages 12 to 16 were surveyed at public schools in England. The survey asked them whether they’d committed, witnessed, or been the victim of several types of bullying behavior (e.g., kicking, name-calling, threatening, etc.) and whether they had experienced psychological stress symptoms such as anxiety, depression, or hostility.

Why bystanders suffer more than victims of bullying

As reported in the article, previous research shows that children who witness bullying feel guilty, presumably for not doing anything to help the victim.

In addition, they may have felt more stressed by vacillating between doing what they thought they should do (i.e., help the victim) on the one hand, and being afraid of being victimized themselves, on the other.  Being in this type of “approach/avoidance” conflict has been shown in numerous studies to create high levels of stress.

The combination of guilt and fear among witnesses that they will experience the same thing may be another reason why they are more affected by bullying than the actual victims.

Click image to read reviews

Uncertainty, especially combined with feelings of fear or guilt, contributes to stress. Stress leads to depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders.

Sitting down and discussing feelings of fear and guilt with your child may help to minimize the destructive force and ultimate impact of those emotions on mental health.  Practical “survival” tips about how to avoid, distract, or other means of handling bullies would help, too, giving kids options if they are cornered by or are a witness to bullies in action.
Read The Original Research Paper (PDF)

Source: Psychological Association (2009, December 15). Witnesses to bullying may face more mental health risks than bullies and victims. ScienceDaily.
Share/Save/Bookmark

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

April 22, 2010 - Posted by | Adolescence, Books, Bullying, Child Behavior, Parenting, Resilience | , , , , , , , , , , ,

8 Comments »

  1. Sounds like a good thing for counselors in schools to bring up in group discussions and of course for parents to discuss with their children. For group discussion: what to do if you see this happen and also explain why bullies act this way so the children understand better and the bullies understand better why they do it so they may grow away from this behavior.

    Have you read the book “Shyness”? The author talks about the approach/avoidance conflict in the shy person. I happen to be reading this.

    Comment by journalofahuman | April 22, 2010 | Reply

  2. […] “I Saw It Happen”: Children Who Witness Bullying Can Be Traumatized Too (peterhbrown.wordpress.com) […]

    Pingback by Violent Video Games & Kids: Definitive Study Shows Both Short & Long Term Harmful Effects « Peter H Brown Clinical Psychologist | April 25, 2010 | Reply

  3. […] “I Saw It Happen”: Children Who Witness Bullying Can Be Traumatized Too (peterhbrown.wordpress.com) […]

    Pingback by It’s time to face the facts on bullying « The Mental Health Minute | April 27, 2010 | Reply

  4. […] “I Saw It Happen”: Children Who Witness Bullying Can Be Traumatized Too (peterhbrown.wordpress.com) […]

    Pingback by All By Myself…The Tyranny of The Loneliness Epidemic « Peter H Brown Clinical Psychologist | April 29, 2010 | Reply

  5. […] “I Saw It Happen”: Children Who Witness Bullying Can Be Traumatized Too (peterhbrown.wordpress.com) […]

    Pingback by Preventing Child Bullying: The Important Role Of Parents « Peter H Brown Clinical Psychologist | May 4, 2010 | Reply

  6. i am writin a persuasive peace on how bullying has tyo stop in schools and this gave me a lot of imformation on bulling

    Comment by sarah | May 10, 2010 | Reply

  7. peterhbrown.wordpress.com’s done it once again. Amazing read.

    Comment by Ruby Cotton | May 27, 2010 | Reply

  8. If only more than 56 people could hear about this..

    Comment by Young Hamilton | June 1, 2010 | Reply


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: