Supporters and followers play slightly different roles around the bully.
Supporters encourage rather than discourage the bully in his/her actions. The supporter encourages but does not take an active part in the bullying. They are seen to side with the bully, but not in the act of actually bullying. A bit like the cleaning fish on a shark, the shark knows they are there and are useful, but pays them little attention, positively or negatively.
Followers or the bully’s ‘henchmen’ however, take an active part in the bullying, but DO NOT initiate it. Often this is their defence when brought to task and therefore claim they are not to blame. They do exhibit the same lack of remorse and empathy as the bully but are just as guilty. These children often resort to this sort of behaviour to avoid being singled out by the bully themselves. They may also disagree with the bully, but toe the line so as not to bring attention to themselves or face punitive measures from the bully themselves.
To sum up the activities of peers, according to studies by Coloroso (2003):
1. Peers were involved in some capacity in 85% of
2. Peers reinforced the bullying in 81 percent of the episodes.
3. Peers were more respectful and friendly toward bullies than towards their targets.
4. Peers were active participants in 48%of the episodes.
5. Peers intervened in only 13% of the episodes at which
they were present.