What Does It Take to be a Prosocial Bystander in Jewish Middle Schools? The Role of Self-Esteem and Gender in Prosocial Bystander Behavior
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Bullying in schools is a significant problem that has received much attention from researchers and practitioners. Given the evidence that almost all bullying occurs in the presence of bystanders, it is not surprising that the past two decades have seen increased attention to the roles bystanders play in bullying events.;Prosocial bystander intervention is the goal of many school-wide bully prevention programs. However, intervening in a bullying situation can be both challenging and risky and likely requires a significant degree of self-efficacy and self-esteem to override these clear potential barriers. The current study sought to understand the relationship between self-esteem, gender, and prosocial bystander behavior.;Three-hundred and nineteen middle school students in four faith-based private schools completed anonymous self-report questionnaires. Students were presented with a hypothetical problem solving measure, the Personal Bystander Responsiveness scale of the Student Experience Survey, and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem scale.;Regression analyses revealed that self-esteem was a significant, positive predictor of self-reported prosocial bystander behavior and of prosocial problem solving, even when controlling for grade and gender. Furthermore, self-esteem did not significantly interact with grade or gender to predict bystander behavior, suggesting that the association between self-esteem and bystander behavior applied equally to both genders and across the middle school period. Finally, no evidence for a quadratic function was found in the relationship between self-esteem and prosocial intervention for either gender, suggesting that there is no minimum threshold of self-esteem that is necessary in order for prosocial bystander behavior to be demonstrated.;The findings have significant implications for both further research and intervention programs. Further evaluation of self-esteem and self-efficacy in bystanders is clearly indicated. In addition, school-wide bully prevention programs should consider including self-esteem and self-efficacy building components to create a cadre of prosocial bystanders that will effectively build a positive social climate.
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