Psychological Impact of Bully Reporting by Victims
By Paul Langhorst May 22, 2012
Late last week I co-presented on a webinar with Dr. Nicole Yetter entitled Encouraging Bullying in the Online Age. (We will post a link to the archive of the webinar shortly.)
One thing I love about working in education is the opportunity to learn something new everyday and my experience on this webinar was no exception. As we have rolled out the CyberBully Hotline our information and promotional efforts have mainly focused on the benefits to the school that anonymous reporting can deliver when added to the overall bully prevention program. During the webinar Dr. Yetter presented brief, but powerful information on the positive, psychological impact on the victim or witness when they report on a bullying or harassment incident. Dr. Yetter summarized work by Dr. Peter Sheras and Sherill Tippins and their book: Your Child: Bully or Victim, Understanding and Ending School Yard Tyranny (Library Journal, 2002).
In summary, Dr. Yetter shared that:
- Students, who voice their concerns and successfully intervene, build courage to do the right thing.
- Children learn and feel satisfaction in knowing that they are saving others from future harm.
- When a child does a good deed, it helps to build and strengthen their self- esteem.
- Provide students with the opportunity to develop a sense of pride.
When implementing a bully prevention program, and specifically discussing with students the need to come forward and report on things that that are happening to them or that they see, educators should consider including discussion on the above points. It’s common sense that when a person shares their troubles or concerns with others, that it creates relief and an uplifting feeling. The fact that they are not the “only one to know what’s going on” is relief in itself.
The challenge for educators, administrators and counselors is to take action to resolve the situation. There is nothing more disheartening than to bare your soul to another and than have negative or no results as a consequence. Research also indicates (Olweus) that students often don’t report bullying because they feel that nothing will get done. It is important that the trust a student shares when making a report, be returned with positive action and results.