Research documents that parents play a critical role in the development and maintenance of behavior problems in children. Few bullying prevention programs, however, target children in early childhood or include a parenting component in spite of experts recommending that parent training in behavior management be addressed. Based upon these recommendations, the present study examines the relationship among parent characteristics (hostility, depression, and overall parenting skills) and child bullying and the effects of the American Psychological Association’s ACT Raising Safe Kids program on reducing early childhood bullying. The ACT-RSK program is a primary family violence and child physical abuse prevention program for parents of young children. Fifty-two parents/caregivers, representing children ages 4–10, completed the Brief Symptom Inventory, the ACT Parents Raising Safe Kids Scale, and Early Childhood Bullying Questionnaire (derived from the Child Behavior Checklist and Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire). Twenty-five of these parents/caregivers were trained in effective parenting including nonviolent discipline, child development, anger management, social problem-solving skills, effects of violent media on children, and methods to protect children from exposure to violence through the ACT-RSK program. The remaining 27 parents/caregivers received treatment as usual. Results indicate decreased bullying in children whose parents completed the ACT-RSK program. Furthermore, of the parent characteristics assessed, parental hostility is the only significant parent predictor for child bullying. These findings suggest the efficacy of this brief intervention for preventing bullying.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Achenbach, T. M., & Edelbrock, C. (1983). Manual for the child behavior checklist and revised child behavior profile. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont.
ACT Against Violence. (2012). Retrieved from www.actagainstviolence.apa.org.
Alsaker, F. D., & Nagele, C. (2008). Bullying in kindergarten and prevention. In W. Craig & D. Pepler (Eds.), An international perspective on understanding and addressing bullying (Vol. I, pp. 230–252). Kingston, Canada: PREVNet.
Belacchi, C., & Farina, E. (2010). Prosocial/hostile roles and emotion comprehension in preschoolers. Aggressive Behavior, 36, 371–389. doi:10.1002/ab.20361.
Brestan, E. V., & Eyberg, S. M. (1998). Effective psychosocial treatments of conduct-disordered children and adolescents: 29 years, 82 studies, and 5,272 kids. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 27, 180–189.
Brody, G., Dorsey, S., Forehand, R., & Armistead, L. (2002). Unique and protective contributions of parenting and classroom process to the adjustment of parenting and classroom processes to the adjustment of African American children living in single-parent families. Child Development, 73(1), 274–286. doi:10.1111/1467-8624.00405.
Child Trends Data Bank. (2012). Retrieved from www.childtrendsdatabank.org.
Cicchetti, D., & Toth, S. L. (1997). Transactional ecological systems in developmental psychopathology. In S. S. Luthar, J. A. Burack, D. Cicchetti, & J. R. Weisz (Eds.), Developmental psychopathology: Perspectives on adjustment, risk, and disorder (pp. 317–349). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Conger, R. D., Ge, X., Elder, G. H., Lorenz, F. O., & Simons, R. L. (1994). Economic stress, coercive family process, and developmental problems of adolescence. Child Development, 65, 541–561. doi:10.2307/1131401.
Cornell, A. H., & Frick, P. H. (2007). The moderating effects of parenting styles in the association between behavioral inhibition and parent-reported guilt and empathy in preschool age children. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 36, 305–318.
Craig, W. M., Pepler, D. J., Murphy, A., & McCuaig-Edge, H. (2010). What works in bullying? In E. M. Vernberg & B. K. Biggs (Eds.), Preventing and treating bullying and victimization (pp. 215–242). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Culp, A. M., Culp, R. E., Horton, C. H., Curtner-Smith, M. E., Palermo, F., & Culp, K. (2003). Head Start children’s playground aggression and teachers’ and maternal reports. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Toronto, Canada.
Cutner-Smith, M. E., Culp, A. M., Culp, R., Scheib, C., Owen, K., Tilley, A., et al. (2006). Mothers’ parenting and young economically disadvantaged children’s relational and overt bullying. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 15(2), 181–193. doi:10.1007/510826-005-9016-7.
Deater-Deckard, K., Ivy, L., & Petrill, S. A. (2006). Maternal warmth moderates the link between physical punishment and child externalizing problems: A parent-offspring genetic analysis. Parenting: Science and Practice, 6, 59–78. doi:10.1207/515327922par0601.3.
Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education and Department of Justice. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.stopbullying.gov.
Derogatis, L. R. (1993). The brief symptom inventory (BSI): Administration, scoring and procedures manual (3rd ed.). Minneapolis, MN: National Computer Systems.
Dodge, K. A., Bates, J. E., & Pettit, G. S. (1990). Mechanisms in the cycle of violence. Science, 250, 559–584. doi:10.1126/science.2270481.
Dodge, K. A., Bates, J. E., Pettit, G. S., & Valente, E. (1995). Social information processing patterns partially mediate the effect of early physical abuse on later conduct problems. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 104, 632–643. doi:10.1037/0021-843X.104.4.632.
Dodge, K. A., Pettit, G. S., & Bates, J. E. (1994). Socialization mediators of the relation between socioeconomic status and child conduct problems. Child Development, 65, 649–665. doi:10.2307/1131407.
Farc, M. M., Crouch, J. L., Skowronski, J. J., & Milner, J. S. (2008). Hostility ratings by parents at risk for child abuse: Impact of chronic and temporary schema activation. Child Abuse and Neglect, 32, 177–193. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2007.06.001.
Farrington, D. P., & West, D. J. (1993). Criminal, penal, and life histories of chronic offenders: Risk and protective factors and early identification. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 3(4), 492–523.
Fetsch, R. J., Yang, R. K., & Pettit, M. J. (2008). The RETHINK parenting and anger management program: A follow-up validation study. Family Relation, 57, 543–552. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3729.2008.00521.x.
Gershoff, E. T. (2002). Corporal punishment by parents and the associated child behaviors and experiences: A meta-analytic and theoretical review. Psychological Bulletin, 128(4), 539–579. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.128.4.539.
Goodman, R. (2001). Psychometric properties of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 40(1), 1337–1345. doi:10.1097/00004583-200111000-00015.
Hoffman, M. L. (2000). Empathy and moral development: Implications for caring and justice. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Kane, P., & Garber, J. (2009). Parental depression and child externalizing and internalizing symptoms: Unique effects of fathers’ symptoms and perceived conflict as a mediator. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 18(4), 465–472. doi:10.1007/s10826-008-9250-x.
Knox, M., Burkhart, K., & Cromly, A. (in press). Supporting positive parenting in community health centers: The ACT Raising Safe Kids Program. Journal of Community Psychology.
Knox, M., Burkhart, K., & Howe, T. (2011a). The ACT Against Violence Parents Raising Safe Kids Program: Exploring the potential for preventing children’s behavior problems. Family Relations, 60(4), 491–503. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3729.2011.00660.x.
Knox, M., Burkhart, K., & Hunter, K. E. (2010). ACT Against Violence Parents Raising Safe Kids Program: Effects on maltreatment-related parenting behaviors and beliefs. Journal of Family Issues, 32(1), 55–74. doi:10.1177/0192513X10370112.
Knox, M., Burkhart, K., & Khuder, S. (2011b). Parental hostility and depression as predictors of young children’s aggression and conduct problems. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma, 20(7), 800–811. doi:10(1080/10926771),2011,610772.
Kumpulainen, K., Rasanen, E., & Henttonen, I. (1999). Children involved in bullying: Psychological disturbance and the persistence of the involvement. Child Abuse and Neglect, 23(12), 1253–1262. doi:10.1016/S0145-2134(99)00098-8.
Lee, C. M., & Gotlib, I. H. (1991). Adjustment of children of depressed mothers: A 10-month follow-up. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 100(4), 472–477. doi:10.1037/0021-843X.100.4.473.
Lochman, J. E., & Wells, K. (2004). The coping power program for preadolescent aggressive boys and their parents: Outcome effects at the 1-year follow-up. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72, 571–578. doi:10.1037/0022-006X.72.4.571.
Lovejoy, C. M., Graczyk, P. A., O’Hare, E., & Neuman, G. (2000). Maternal depression and parenting behavior: A meta-analytic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 20(5), 561–592. doi:10.1016/SO272-7358(98)00100-7.
Lundahl, B. W., Nimer, J., & Parsons, B. (2006). Preventing child abuse: A meta-analysis of parent training programs. Research on Social Work Practice, 16(3), 251–262. doi:10.1177/1049731505284391.
Lyons-Ruth, K., Lyubchik, A., Wolfe, R., & Bronfman E. (2002). Parental depression and child attachment: Hostile and helpless profiles of parent and child behavior among families at risk. In S. H. Goodman, & I. H. Gotlib (Eds.), Children of depressed parents: Mechanisms of risk and implications for treatment (pp. 89–120). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/10449-004.
Masten, A. S., & Coatsworth, J. D. (1998). The development of competence in favorable and unfavorable environments: Lessons from research on successful children. American Psychologist, 53(2), 205–220. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.53.2.205.
Nansel, T. R., Overpeck, M., Pilla, R. S., Ruan, W. J., Simons-Morton, B., & Scheidt, P. (2001). Bullying behaviors among U.S. youth: Prevalence and associations with psychosocial adjustment. Journal of the American Medical Association, 285, 2094–2100. doi:10.1001/jama.285.16.2094.
O’Moore, M., & Kirkham, C. (2001). Self-esteem and its relationship to bullying behavior. Aggressive Behavior, 27(4), 269–283. doi:10.1002/ab.1010.
Olweus, D. (1991). Bully/victim problems among schoolchildren: Basic facts and effects of a school based intervention program. In D. Pepler & K. Rubin (Eds.), The development and treatment of childhood aggression (pp. 411–448). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do. Oxford, England: Blackwell Publishers.
Olweus, D. (2010). Understanding and researching bullying. In S. R. Jimerson, S. M. Swearer, & D. L. Espelage (Eds.), Handbook of bullying in schools (pp. 9–34). New York, NY: Routledge.
Patterson, G. R., Reid, J. B., & Dishion, T. J. (1992). Antisocial boys. Eugene, OR: Castalia.
Pearl, E., Thicken, L., Olafson, E., Boat, B., Connelly, L., Barnes, J., et al. (2011). Effectiveness of community dissemination of parent child interaction therapy. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. doi:10.1037/a0022948.
Porter, B. E., & Howe, T. R. (2008). Pilot evaluation of the ACT Parents Raising Safe Kids Violence Prevention Program. Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma, 1, 1–14. doi:10.1177/0192513x10370112.
Portwood, S. G., Lambert, R. G., Abrams, L. P., & Nelson, E. B. (2011). An evaluation of the adults and children together (ACT) Against Violence Parents Raising Safe Kids Program. Journal of Primary Prevention, 32, 147–160. doi:10.1007/s10935-011-0249-5.
Rigby, K., & Slee, P. T. (1993). Suicidal ideation among adolescent schoolchildren, involvement in bully-victim problems, and perceived social support. Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior, 29(2), 119–130. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6427.1994.00787.x.
Rublin, K. H., Burgess, K. B., Dwyer, K. M., & Hastings, P. D. (2003). Predicting preschoolers’ externalizing behaviors from toddler temperament, conflict, and maternal negativity. Developmental Psychology, 39, 164–176. doi:10.1037/0012-16184.108.40.206.
Schwartz, D., Kelly, B. M., Duong, M. T., & Badaly, D. (2010). A contextual perspective on intervention and prevention efforts for bully-victim problems. In E. M. Vernberg & B. K. Biggs (Eds.), Preventing and treating bullying and victimization (pp. 17–44). New York, NY: Oxford University Press, Inc.
Shaw, D. S., Winslow, E. B., Owens, E. B., Vondra, J. I., Cohn, J. F., & Bell, R. Q. (1998). The development of early externalizing problems among children from low-income families: A transformational perspective. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 26, 95–107. doi:10.1023/A:1022665704584.
Smith Slep, A. M., & O’Leary, S. G. (2007). Multivariate models of mothers’ and fathers’ aggression towards their children. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 75(5), 739–751. doi:10.1037/0022-006x.75.5.752.
Stassen Berger, K. (2007). Update on bullying at school. Science forgotten? Developmental Review, 27, 90–126. doi:10.1016/j.dr.2006.08.002.
Storey, K., Slaby, R., Adler, M., Minotti, J., & Katz, R. (2008). Retrieved from www.eyesonbullying.org/toolkit.html.
Straus, M. A., Sugarman, D. B., & Giles-Sims, J. (1997). Spanking by parents and subsequent antisocial behavior by children. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 152, 761–767. doi:10.2307/584804.
Thornton, T. N., Craft, C. A., Dahlberg, L. L., Lynch B. S., & Baer, K. (2002). Best practices of youth violence presentation: A sourcebook for community action (Rev.). Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
Todorov, A., & Bargh, J. A. (2002). Automatic sources of aggression. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 7, 53–68. doi:10.1016/51359-1789(00)00036-7.
Tronic, E. Z. (1989). Emotions and emotional communication in infants. American Psychologist, 44, 112–119.
Tucker, S., Gross, D., Fogg, L., Delaney, K., & Lapporte, R. (1998). The long-term efficacy of a behavioral parent training intervention for families with 2-year-olds. Research in Nursing & Health, 21, 199–210. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1098-240X(199806)21:3<199::AID-NUR3>3.0.CO;2-C.
Webster-Stratton, C., & Reid, J. M. (2010). The Incredible Years parents, teachers, and children training series: A multifaceted treatment approach for young children with conduct disorders. In J. R. Weisz & A. E. Kazdin (Eds.), Evidence-based psychotherapies for children and adolescents (pp. 194–210). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Webster-Stratton, C., Reid, J., & Hammond, M. (2001). Social skills and problem-solving training for children with early-onset conduct problems: Who benefits? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 42, 943–952. doi:10.1111/1469-7610.00790.
Weymouth, L. A., & Howe, T. R. (2011). A multi-site evaluation of Parents Raising Safe Kids Violence Prevention Program. Children and Youth Services Review, 33, 1960–1967.
Zhou, Q., Eisenberg, N., Losoya, S. H., Fabes, R., Reiser, M., Guthrie, I. K., et al. (2002). The relations of parental warmth and positive expressiveness to children’s empathy-related responding and social functioning: A longitudinal study. Child Development, 73, 893–915. doi:10.1111/1467-8624.0044.
About this article
Cite this article
Burkhart, K.M., Knox, M. & Brockmyer, J. Pilot Evaluation of the ACT Raising Safe Kids Program on Children’s Bullying Behavior. J Child Fam Stud 22, 942–951 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-012-9656-3
- Parent–child interaction
- Positive parenting