Individual differences |
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Often bullying takes place in the presence of a large group of relatively uninvolved bystanders. In many cases, it is the bully's ability to create the illusion that he or she has the support of the majority present that instills the fear of 'speaking out' in protestation of the bullying activities being observed by the group. Unless the 'bully mentality' is effectively challenged in any given group in its earlier stages, it often becomes an accepted norm within the group. 
In such groups where the 'bully mentality' has been allowed to become a dominant factor in the group environment, a steady stream of injustices and abuses often becomes a regular and predictable group experience. Such a toxic environment often remains as the status-quo of the group for an extended period of time, until somehow the bullying-cycle should eventually come to an end. Bystanders to bullying activities are often unable to recognize the true cost that silence regarding the bullying activities has to both the individual and to the group. A certain inability to fully empathize is also usually present in the typical bystander, but to a lesser degree than in the bully. The reversal of a 'bully mentality' within a group is usually an effort which requires much time, energy, careful planning, coordination with others, and usually the undertaking of a certain 'risk'.
It is the general unwillingness of bystanders to expend these types of energies and to undertake these types of risks that bullies often rely upon in order to maintain their monopolies of power. Until or unless at least one individual who has at least some abilities to work with others, opts to expend whatever energies may be needed to reverse the 'bully mentality' of the group, the 'bully mentality' is often perpetuated within a group for months, years, or even decades. 
Bystanders who have been able to establish their own 'friendship group' or 'support group' have been found to be far more likely to opt to speak out against bullying behavior than those who have not. 
- (2010). Bullies, Victims, and Bystanders- Bystanders. URL accessed on 2010-11-17. Description of typical attitudes of bystanders to bullying.
- (2010). New Tactics To Tackle Bystander's Role In Bullying. URL accessed on 2010-11-17. Science Daily website reviews effectiveness of several bullying-bystander awareness programs.
- (2010). Petty Tyrant: Text intro: NPR documentary (see audio link below). URL accessed on 2010-11-17. Exposé of workplace bullying in Schenectady NY school district. An in depth view of how a workplace bully rose to power and how he fell. Detailed discussion of how bystanders coerced into allowing workplace bullying.
- (2010). Petty Tyrant: Audio link. URL accessed on 2010-11-17. Audio link to 'Petty Tyrant' NPR documentary.
- (2010). Pasco County Students Making Friends and Stopping Bullying. URL accessed on 2010-11-27. Psychologist Jim Porter reports on the correlation between making friends and speaking out against bullying. (See "Program Helps Students Combat Bullying" reference below.)
- (2010). Program Helps Students Combat Bullying. URL accessed on 2010-11-27. Discussion of the role of friendship groups in countering bullying behavior.