An investigation of a bullying prevention program in school settings

Bullying is pervasive across schools in the United States. The bullying circle describes the roles of bully, bystanders, defender, and victim. Bully-victims, students who are both victims and bullies, are of special concern. Bullying consists of direct and indirect behaviors that are mean and hurtful. Many problems are associated with bullying and can be reduced with intervention. Two elementary school sites instituted the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program which intervenes at individual, classroom, school-wide, and community levels. Intervention consisted of an initial assessment, kickoff event, classroom meetings, feedback sessions, and subsequent assessment. The Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire was used to assess 496 participants pre-intervention and 483 participants post-intervention in grades 3 through 8. Participants in all grades received the kickoff event and classroom meetings. Participants were less likely to be a victim (RR = 0.92), bully (0.97), or bully-victim (0.97) after program implementation. Victimization severity was lower after intervention (d = 0.09). Risk ratios further showed that participants were less likely to join a bullying situation underway (0.97) and more likely to defend a student being bullied (1.15). There was minimal support for gender differences pre intervention, wherein girls were at more likely to have indirect victim roles (1.10), while less likely to have direct victim roles (0.93). Additionally, boys were more likely to be a joiner in a bullying situation (1.11). These gender differences diminished post intervention.