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A team of Aggies examine the bystander role in bullying

POSTED: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - 4:43pm
UPDATED: Friday, April 13, 2012 - 8:54am

COLLEGE STATION -- Whether it's done in person, through text message or on the internet, every day thousands of kids are bullied and it's a problem that continues to grow in our schools.

So, a team of Aggie researchers are now trying to put an end to the problem by targeting those who just stand by and watch.

Every day more than 160,000 students miss school, not because they are sick, but out of fear of being bullied and technology has only made the problem worse.

"Texting, the YouTube videos, the emails, all the Facebook and MySpace. All those have made it more complex and more difficult for kids," said Chrissy Hester, director of administrative services with College Station ISD.

Now a group of Aggie professors and students are trying to end the bullying epidemic by taking a deeper look into the role bystanders play.

Dr. Jamilia Blake said, "Bullying continues because the behavior is reinforced. So what that means is that by the bystanders watching the bully, they are essentially telling the bully or bullies that it is ok, that there are no consequences for their actions if they continue to keep doing this."

To fully understand the bystander's role, the research team will play a series of videos to a group of fourth graders showing them different bullying scenarios.

Dr. Blake said, "We'll ask them various questions and ask them ok, would you respond this way? Why not? What would happen if you responded this way in your school? What would happen to the victim? Is this an effective way to deal with bullying?"

The feedback will help the team develop an effective bullying prevention program for schools and Chrissy Hester, with College Station ISD, says she can't wait to see what the research shows.

"Bullying is so complex because it really is peer pressure, it's all about peer pressure so the study really involves peer pressure and how you need to help people figure out how to deal with that."

Dr. Blake hopes to have all the research completed by next May.


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