What Makes Antibullying Programs Effective?

Bullying is still a major problem faced by children and adolescents around the world. 

While not all bullying victims are willing to come forward, U.S. studies indicate that 28 percent of students in Grades 6 to 12 report experiencing bullying in some form with 30 percent admitting to bullying others.   Children and adolescents can become bullying targets for a wide variety of reasons though race, ethnic background, appearance, or sexual orientation appear to be the most common.   More than 70 percent of all students report seeing some sort of  bullying in their schools with 41 percent reporting seeing it on a weekly basis.   Whether it takes the form of  verbal threats, physical intimidation, emotional pressure, or cyberbullying, the mental health problems stemming from being victimized can last a lifetime.   Along with substance abuse, depression, and other emotional problems, bullying has also been linked to adolescent suicide and trouble with the law as bullying victims attempt to strike back at their tormentors. 

In recent years, we've seen more calls for action to protect children and adolescents from bullying,  including laws against bullying in some jurisdictions as well as "zero tolerance policies" adopted by many schools to protect students.   As a result, programs designed to curb bullying through education are also becoming more popular.  For example, the Ontario Ministry of Education has lauunched PREVnet (Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network) to establish Safe Schools Teams across the province.    Using biennial surveys to measure school climate for incidents of bullying, the teams plan out anti-bullying activities as well as conducting a Bullying Awareness and Prevention week each year.  Other programs encourage students to intervene when they see a child being bullied in school or in their neighbourhood.

But how effective are these programs?   To read more, check out my new Psychology Today blog post.


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