Encouraging bystanders to help in stopping violence against children


Correspondence to: Magdalena Cismaru, Ph.D., Professor of Marketing, Faculty of Business Administration, University of Regina, 3737 Wascana Parkway, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada S4S 0A2.

E-mail: Magdalena.Cismaru@uregina.ca


  • Violence against children is a matter of great concern for most Americans, especially because of its associated risk of death. Violence against children is often witnessed by parents, guardians, neighbours, peers or friends of the abused child and also by strangers. These witnesses or bystanders play a significant role in reporting the incidents to the authorities, but they are often reluctant to get involved because of a number of reasons, including a fear of the potential negative consequences and a lack of proper knowledge to intercede. We examined the role of bystander intervention in campaigns addressing violence against children, by identifying, gathering and analysing several campaigns from a variety of English-language websites. We provide a description of the key themes and messages being used in initiatives addressing violence against children and discuss how the components of the initiatives correspond with a model of bystander intervention applied in the area of child abuse. The results show that although these campaigns are generally consistent with the literature, they sometimes have a narrow focus, which may limit their effectiveness. Recommendations for enhancing future initiatives addressing violence against children are provided.

Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.