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25-11-2019 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 4/2020

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 4/2020

Norms and Attitudes about Being an Active Bystander: Support for Telling Adults about Seeing Knives or Guns at School among Greater London Youth

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 4/2020
Jessica M. Perkins, H. Wesley Perkins, David W. Craig
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A detailed understanding of the factors associated with support among youth for reporting a knife or gun at school to an adult is essential to inform violence prevention initiatives. However, no studies have empirically assessed attitudes about support for reporting among secondary school students in Greater London nor perceived norms about such support among peers. Thus, this study explores whether students misperceive peer norms about support for telling adults about seeing weapons at school. Anonymous surveys were completed by 7401 youth (52% female; 43% White; mean age 11.8 years) in school years 4–11 in 45 school cohorts in a greater London borough between 2007 and 2012. Students reported both personal support about reporting weapons to several categories of adults and whether they perceived most other students at their school to support reporting weapons to adults in each category. Most students (64–78% on average) in most cohorts personally thought that students should report seeing a weapon at school to head teachers, police/security guard, teachers/counselors, and parent/other adult relatives. However, 34–44% of students erroneously thought that the majority of their peers did not support reporting to these adults. Perceived norms predicted personal support for reporting, adjusting for the prevalence of actual support at one’s school and other factors. Pervasive norm misperceptions about reporting may contribute to a less safe environment.

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