Adolescents’ expectations for types of victim retaliation following direct bullying
Little is known about adolescents’ expectations around how victims of bullying might retaliate following victimization. These expectations are important as they may inform adolescent’s own behaviors, particularly intervention behaviors, in regard to bullying and potential retaliation. This study investigated adolescents’ retaliation expectations and expected bystander reactions to retaliation following physical and social bullying. Participants included 6th grade (N = 450, Mage = 11.73 years, SD = 0.84) and 9th grade (N = 446, Mage = 14.82 years) adolescents (50.2% female, 63.3% European American, 22.9% African American, 3.9% Latino/a, 7% Multiracial, 2.9% Other) from middle-to-low-income U.S. public schools. Participants responded to open-ended prompts about victim responses to bullying, rating retaliation acceptability, and likelihood of engaging in bystander behaviors. ANOVAs were conducted to examine differences in retaliation expectation by type of aggression. Further, linear regressions were used to explore what factors were related to participants’ expectations regarding bystander intervention. Participants expected victims to retaliate by causing harm and expected the type of retaliation to match the type of bullying. Younger participants were more specific and males were more likely to expect physical harm than females. Finally, acceptability of retaliation predicted bystander interventions. Adolescents expect aggressive retaliation suggesting that intervention might focus on teaching them ways to respond when they are bullied or observe bullying.