|Self-efficacy – Bullying – Moral sensitivity – Bystander behavior
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Bullying in U.S. high schools remains a serious problem that can disrupt learning and cause severe psychological and behavioral problems in victims. In efforts to reduce bullying in schools, researchers have begun to study bystander behavior in bullying situations since a majority of bullying occurs in the presence of peers. Bystanders can adopt pro-bully, outsider, or defender stances, and bystander intervention may be key in reducing school bullying, thereby necessitating an understanding of the factors that influence bystanders to act in bullying situations. The constructs of basic moral sensitivity, moral disengagement, and defender self-efficacy have been associated with bystander behavior in bullying situations in populations outside of the United States. The purpose of the present study was to examine the connection between basic moral sensitivity, moral disengagement, defender self-efficacy, grade level, gender, and bystander behavior in a U.S. sample of high school students. Using a multinomial logistic regression, the researcher confirmed that collectively, moral sensitivity, moral disengagement, and defender self-efficacy significantly predicted bystander behavior in students from a private high school in northern Virginia. In addition, defender self-efficacy and grade level were significant predictors of bystander roles. As levels of self-efficacy increased, so did the likelihood of being in the defender group versus the outsider group. As grade level increased, so did the likelihood of being in the pro-bully group instead of the defender group. The significance of the overall model indicates future avenues of research pertaining to bystander behavior in bullying situations in U.S. populations. In addition, further research on self-efficacy and grade level in relation to bystander behavior would help to inform programs targeted at reducing bullying in schools.