Evaluation of the Olweus Bully Prevention Program in an Urban School System in the USA

  • Albert D. Farrell
  • Terri N. Sullivan
  • Kevin S. Sutherland
  • Rosalie Corona
  • Saba Masho
Article

Abstract

This study evaluated the Olweus Bully Prevention Program (OBPP) in urban middle schools serving a mostly African American student population. Participants were 1791 students from three communities with high rates of crime and poverty. We evaluated the impact of the OBPP using a multiple-baseline experimental design in which we randomized the order and timing of intervention activities across three schools. We assessed the frequency of violence and victimization using self-report and teachers’ ratings of students collected every 3 months over 5 years. Initiation of the OBPP was associated with reductions in teachers’ ratings of students’ frequency of aggression, with effects emerging in different years of implementation for different forms of aggression. Whereas reductions in teachers’ ratings of students’ verbal and relational aggression and victimization were evident during the second implementation year, reductions in physical aggression did not appear until the third year. Effects were consistent across gender and schools, with variability across grades for relational and verbal aggression and victimization. In contrast, there were no intervention effects on students’ reports of their behavior. Positive outcomes for teachers’, but not students’ ratings, suggest the intervention’s effects may have been limited to the school context. Variation in when effects emerged across outcomes suggests that changes in physical aggression may require more sustained intervention efforts. The intervention was also associated with increases in teachers’ concerns about school safety problems, which may indicate that teachers were more attuned to recognizing problem behaviors following exposure to the OBPP.

Keywords

Olweus Bully Prevention Program Violence prevention School intervention Evaluation Aggression 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to John Ferron for his input on this project’s design and analysis, and to Anne Greene who served as project coordinator.

Funding

This study was funded by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC Cooperative Agreement 5U01CE001956. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants in the study.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  2. 2.Department of Counseling and Special EducationVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  3. 3.Department of Family Medicine and Population Health, School of MedicineVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

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