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Bystander's Willingness to Report Theft, Physical Assault, and Sexual Assault: The Impact of Gender, Anonymity, and Relationship With the Offender

NCJ Number
Journal of Interpersonal Violence Volume: 29 Issue: 2 Dated: January 2014 Pages: 217-236
Sarah C. Nicksa, Ph.D.
Date Published
January 2014
20 pages

This research examines bystander willingness to report different crimes to the police or campus authorities.


This research examines bystander willingness to report 3 different crimes to the police or campus authorities among a college student sample (n = 295). Twelve original vignettes varied anonymity when reporting, bystander's relationship with the offender (friend or stranger), and crime type. A factorial analysis of variance showed that main effects were found for crime type, bystander's gender, and bystander's relationship with the offender; anonymity was not significant. The physical assault was the most likely to be reported (4.47), followed by theft (3.26), and sexual assault (2.36). Women were more likely than men to report each crime type, and bystanders who were good friends of the offender were less likely to report than strangers. No two- or three-way interactions were significant, but a significant four-way interaction indicated that anonymity, relationship with the offender, and bystander's gender predicted willingness to report for the sexual assault scenario. Abstract published by arrangement with Sage Journals.