Bystander Reporting Behavior of Violent Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

" (in Carr, 2005) Violation of privacy issues is a concern and Epstein (2002) makes the suggestion that incoming students be asked to sign a release enabling administrators to initiate actions should their behavior cause concern or seem erratic.

The work of Banyard (2008) entitled: "Measurement and correlates of prosocial bystander behavior: The case of interpersonal violence" reports a study that examined the effects of gender and specific personality characteristics on bystander attitudes and behaviors. Findings of the study are stated to have been "…consistent with previous findings in that prosocial behaviors were higher among individuals with greater knowledge of sexual violence. Those who perceived higher effectiveness as a bystander were more willing to practice prosocial behaviors, and reported a greater number of actual behaviors." (Banyard, 2008)

The work of Alan D. Berkowitz entitled: "The Social Norms Approach to Violence Prevention" states that social norms research "…suggests that most males are mistaken about other male's attitudes and behaviors towards sex. Similarly, most males are uncomfortable with violence against women and with the attitudes, behaviors, and language of men who commit such violence (Berkowitz 2002, 2003B in: Berkowitz, nd). The problem as stated by Berkowitz is that men fail to act on their beliefs or to express their discomfort because they "think that other men do not feel the same." (nd) in fact, Berkowitz states "What men think other men think and do is one of the strongest determinants of how men act -- even when these perceptions and beliefs are mistaken. Thus, most men feel uncomfortable with characteristics and attributes of male socialization but falsely think that other men are comfortable with cultural definitions of masculinity." (nd)

Berkowitz additionally states that men "…consent in intimate relationships and are uncomfortable with language and behavior that objectifies and hurts women, but falsely assume that other men do not employ consent and are not uncomfortable with other men's negative behavior towards women (Berkowitz, 2003B; Bruce, 2002, Fabiano et al., 2003, Kilmartin, et al. 1999; White et al. 2003 in: Berkowitz, nd) the result is that men and boys fail to express their true feelings or to act upon them and become "bystanders and passive observers of other men's problem behaviors." (Berkowitz, 2002, 2003B, nd) at the same time men who "…engage in verbal and physical violence against women incorrectly interpret other men's silence as approval, thus feeling emboldened to express and act violently towards women. Thus, when values and behaviors associated with patriarchy and violence against women are seen as hegemonic, they cause most men to hide the parts of ourselves that seem inconsistent with it. Engaging men as part of the solution to violence against women requires that men come out of hiding to express attitudes and behaviors that will serve to inhibit violence by other men." (Berkowitz, nd)

Health media campaigns have used the social norms approach (Bruce, 2003) and it has been utilized in the small workshop setting (Far and Miller, 2003) and it is stated by Berkowitz (nd) "…where accurate group norms are revealed in posters and/or through interactive group exercises." (Berkowitz, nd) the work of Smolinsky reports use of the social norms approach in the development of small group norms intervention "…to foster heterosexual ally behaviors towards GLBT individuals by revealing that most straight individuals overestimate the homophobia of their straight peers." (Berkowitz, nd)

Berkowitz relates that social norms interventions require collection of data concerning "actual and perceived norms" and then the "actual norms are then reported back to the target population." (nd) Possession of the knowledge that "…one is not alone in one's beliefs and desired actions and enables the individual the freedom to act upon those beliefs and actions. In the case of men and boys, it provides permission to censor and express discomfort with the attitudes and behaviors of other males that embody "rape culture." (Berkowitz, nd)

Information that Berkowitz suggests be included in social norms marketing media or workshop presentations includes those as follows: (1) Men's misperceptions of other men's sexual activity; (2) Incorrect beliefs about other men's support of rape myths, and/or (3) False assumptions about other men's comfort with degrading language towards women. (nd) Key findings in studies in this area indicate that effective prevention can be based upon the fact that most boys and men are not comfortable when they witness harassment and violence however, in many cases they are unsure of how to respond. This suggests that "…boys can be approached as partners who have a role in ending violence against women, rather than as adversaries or as part of the problem." (Berkowitz, nd) the social norms approach has been found to be both powerful and effective towards designing interventions that are effective and that "complement other violence prevention strategies." (Berkowitz, nd)

The work of Beighley ( ) entitled: "Creating a Triangle of Protection: From Home to School to Community" states that one in every four youth who are LGBT are asked to leave home by their parents when they 'come out' and that according to the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force's 2007 Study "Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth: An epidemic of homelessness" role need to be rewritten to: (1) Re-channel the controlling behavior of the bully positively into leadership activities; (2) Acknowledge and develop into strengths the nonaggressive behaviors of the bullied child; and (3) Transform the role of the bystander into that of the witness: someone who is willing to stand up, speak out, and act against injustice. ( ) the GLSEN 2007 National School Climate Survey reports: (1) Sixty percent of students who were harassed or assaulted in school did not report the incident to school staff, believing little to no action would be taken or the situation could become worse if reported; and (2) Approximately one-third of the students who did report an incident said that school staff did nothing in response. (Beighley, nd)

Stated as solutions for bringing about a decrease of the violence against LBGT students and for increasing these students feelings of safety in school are the following:

(1) the presence of a Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs);

(2) Supportive educators; and (3) a comprehensive, enumerated anti-bullying policy (GLSEN 2007 National School Climate Survey in Beighley, nd)

Students in schools with a Gay-Straight Alliance are stated to have reported "hearing fewer homophobic remarks" experiencing less "harassment and assault" and as well were more likely to report such incidents and less likely to feel unsafe due to their gender expression or sexual orientation. Finally, these students were less likely to miss school due to concerns relating to harassment and assault and as well "reported a greater sense of belonging to their school community." (GLSEN 2007 National School Climate Survey in Beighley, nd)

Students whose educators were supportive were reported as less likely "…to miss at least one day of school in the past month because of safety reasons…" to have higher grade point averages" and reported "higher educational aspirations." (Beighley, nd) in schools with comprehensive policies for reported such incidents students reported lower levels of victimization and were "more likely to report that school staff intervened most of the time or always when hearing homophobic language. (Beighley, nd)


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Berkowitz, AD (2002). Fostering Men's Responsibility for Preventing Sexual Assault. Chapter 7 in Paul a. Schewe (Ed): Preventing Intimate Partner Violence: Developmentally Appropriate Interventions Across the Life Span. Washington DC: American Psychological Press

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Berkowitz, a (2003B). Applications of Social Norms Theory to Other Health and Social Justice Issues. Chapter 16 in HW Perkins (Ed). The Social Norms Approach…

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