Code of Silence: Students' Perceptions of School Climate and Willingness to Intervene in a Peer's Dangerous Plan


The current study presented 1,933 adolescents from 13 schools with a scenario about a hypothetical peer's plan to "do something dangerous" at school and asked how likely they would be to respond with four different actions: intervene directly, tell a teacher or principal, discuss it with a friend but not an adult, and do nothing. High school students were less likely than those in middle school to say they would approach the peer directly or confide in a teacher or principal. Students were most likely to favor taking action on their own over all of the other response strategies. Students with positive perceptions of their schools were more likely to say they would do something rather than ignore their peer's dangerous intentions. These relationships were mediated by students' beliefs that confiding in a teacher may have unfavorable consequences. Findings from this study support the important role schools play in creating a culture where students take responsibility for one another.


Sociology and Anthropology

Document Type





adolescents, intervention, peers, school climate, teachers

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Educational Psychology