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Cyberbullying and the Bystander project

In planning action to reduce bullying, the influence of the peer group on promoting and/or desisting bullying cannot be overestimated. Bullying occurs within a group context, with peers present as onlookers in around 85% of bullying interactions. Bystanders can have active, diverse and involved roles in the bullying process, from facilitating to inhibiting bullying. It appears that around 20-30% of students actively assist or reinforce bullying, and another 26-30% of students try to stay outside the bullying situation. Unfortunately, less than 20% of students act to stop the bullying and defend the student being bullied.

As part of their focus on violence, harassment and bullying, the Australian Human Rights Commission contracted the Child Health Promotion Research Centre to conduct research with key stakeholders and the target group to test and determine the most effective strategies for the target group to take positive bystander action when they witness cyberbullying including: how to remove barriers to taking positive bystander action; what would motivate the target group to take positive bystander action; the most effective messages to communicate bystander strategies; the most effective content including user generated and the use of phone apps; the most effective platform(s) for implementation; and other research priorities as identified in stage one.

This research comprises a two phase, five stage design, including the following components:

Phase 1:

  • Stage 1 – Confirmation of project objectives, strategies and timelines
  • Stage 2 - Student consultation via poll questioning, focus group consultation, discussion boards and a message workshop
  • Stage 3 – Synthesis of data and preparation of research findings and insights report

Phase 2:

  • Stage 4 – Develop, test, refine and implement strategies pending outcomes of Stages 2 and 3
  • Stage 5 – Final campaign proposal pending outcomes of Stages 2 and 3

At the conclusion of the project, a media strategy will be produced and communicated to the Australian community.

Project duration

June 2011 - June 2012

Funding body

Australian Human Rights Commission


Dr Laura Thomas
Professor Donna Cross
Dr Debora Brown
Ms Helen Monks
Ms Sarah Falconer


Dr Laura Thomas
Ms Sarah Falconer

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