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Characteristics of adolescents who intervene to stop the risky and dangerous behavior of their friends

In: Accident Analysis & Prevention, 88, 187-193.

Authors: Lisa Buckley, Rebekah L. Chapman

Adolescents value protecting friends from harm and report that they do intervene as bystanders in friends’ risky and dangerous behavior. Moreover intervention can be effective in reducing such behaviors. The Protection-Risk Framework was used to explain bystander intervention. There were 962 students from 13 Australian high schools (mean age at time 1 = 13.44 years) surveyed in their 9th grade and again 1-year later when students were in 10th grade. We found that protective factors of self-efficacy, support, prosocial models, social control, and ease of opportunity related to greater intervening behavior after 12-months. Among those who reported that they had intervened in a 3-month period, a cumulative measure of protective factors was associated with their reports of intervening. Risk factors were non-significant predictors after accounting for earlier, time 1, bystander intervening behavior and demographic factors. The findings highlight potential mechanisms to promote adolescents’ looking out for their friends and provide an assessment over time of bystander behavior. The theory-guided inquiry into such behavior provides a foundation on which to better develop our understanding of benefits to adolescent friendship in the injury field.