Students’ disclosing of victimisation experiences

Adults can provide support and help to stop bullying; however, previous research has shown that almost half of students do not disclose being victimised to teachers or other adults. In fact, victimised students are more likely to ask for help from their peers, especially friends, and are also more likely to tell an adult at home about being bullied rather than telling a teacher. A reason why students do not ask for help from adults is that they believe that school staff will make the situation worse or that teachers are not interested in taking action against bullying.

When interviewed about their own experiences of victimisation, severely victimised students report that their teachers ignore bullying, despite being aware of it, or that they downplay the situation or blame the victim. Teachers may not intervene when victimised children do not present the stereotypical features of someone who is being victimised. Also, they may underestimate the feelings of sadness and anger of victimised children.

However, students show a greater willingness to ask for help when they think that their teachers are able to solve peer conflicts and peer victimisation. They are also prone to disclose their experiences of victimisation when they perceive that teachers have negative attitudes towards bullying. In this circumstance, they might believe that teachers take bullying seriously and that they will actively try to stop it. Also, students who have already received positive responses from teachers (i.e., active intervention) and other adults are more likely to disclose bullying.

To promote the disclosure of victimisation, teachers need to not only take active roles in handling bullying, but also make their roles transparent to students. To achieve this goal, they should communicate that they disapprove of bullying and will take action when bullying episodes happen. Building warm relationships that are based on trust can also increase students’ disclosure of victimisation.