City Research Online

Youth bystander reporting of peer violence

Souza, K. A. (2018). Youth bystander reporting of peer violence. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


This thesis investigated why some youth bystanders are more willing than others to report their observations of peer violence to authorities. Resilience theory underpinned the research to enable an exploration of the strengths/resources in normative development that may support youths’ reporting decisions. Using a mixed-methods approach (i.e. vignette experiment, survey, and standardised tool), both quantitative and qualitative data were gathered from 364 youth aged 11 to 18 years old. The analyses of this thesis tackled a specific subset of the data to answer three overarching questions: (1) Is there a discernible pattern to youths’ willingness to report peer violence? (2) What factors predict youth bystanders’ decisions to (not) report peer violence? And (3) How do ‘reporters’ differ from ‘non-reporters’? The results indicated that most youth were not willing to report peer violence to authorities, and this was largely contingent on their perceptions of the incident’s severity. Willingness to report did not differ significantly by gender, age and ethnicity. Of the six proxy measures of resilience examined, social competence predicted reporting: more prosocial attitudes were associated with higher levels of reporting. Moral cognitions and emotions did not differentiate reporters from non-reporters; therefore, non-reporters do have the capacity to recognise the gravity of a situation and feel sympathy toward victims of violence. A thematic analysis of the textual data suggests that social distance may account for this group’s lack of reporting. Based on the findings of this study, a model of youth bystander reporting of peer violence is proposed which purports that when youth are exposed to the risk of peer violence, the outcome of reporting is moderated by individual and social protective factors. In practice, reinforcing positive social behaviour and decreasing social distance amongst youth, and also between students and authorities, may yield a change in youths’ reporting potentials.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
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