BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Miami Dolphins scandal raises
questions about the role that bystanders who may witness bullying
can play, says Amanda B. Nickerson, PhD, director of the Alberti
Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention at the University at
“We are increasingly looking at the power of the
bystander, or the people who witness bullying and harassment, and
their role,” says Nickerson, who emphasized she is not
commenting directly on the ongoing controversy in which Dolphin
Richie Incognito allegedly repeatedly hazed teammate Jonathan
Martin, but rather the instances and ongoing problem of bullying
abuse in general.
“We know that bystanders have a powerful influence on
reinforcing the behavior (making it more likely to occur) or
reducing the behavior or its negative impact by telling the
perpetrator to stop, banding together as a group to say it is not
going to be tolerated, reporting it or reaching out to provide
support to the target.”
Nickerson, who has been director of the UB center since 2011 and
has been a frequent expert on national and regional news
broadcasts, says bullying, which she defines as a repeated pattern
of intentionally aggressive behavior intended to cause physical
and/or psychological harm toward a target where there is an
imbalance of power, is common in schools. But the same behavior
also frequently occurs in many other settings.
“We know that bullying can occur as young as preschool and
can continue into adulthood,” says Nickerson.
“Unfortunately, in the workplace, the outcome is often
employees leaving the hostile environment.”
Nickerson is available to discuss bullying research and
available remedies for the person who has become the object of this
abuse, as well as the person acting out this aggressive
Requests can be made by contacting: Charles Anzalone in
UB’s Office of Communications at 716-645-4600.