Early adolescent bystanders’ experiences of school bullying in a South African school

Keywords: Early Adolescent, school bullying, bystanders, emotional behavioural reactions


Bystander is relatively under-researched in bullying literature because most studies on bullying focus primarily on bullies or the direct victims of bullying. This study aimed to explore the bullying experiences of early adolescent bystanders in a South African school context using a qualitative research approach. A phenomenological research design was adopted. Twenty early adolescents’ bystanders were purposefully selected to participate in the study. Interviews were recorded on a voice recorder and transcribed thereafter.  Qualitative data was analysed through inductive thematic analysis. The findings of this study revealed the various emotional and behavioral reactions of bystanders to witnessing school bullying. It is recommended that anti-bullying programs should be included in the curriculum so that school psychologist will have the opportunity to highlight the emotional, psychological and educational impact of bullying and to emphasise to the students that the negative consequences of bullying extend to all who are exposed to bullying

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