Effectiveness of school-based programs to reduce bullying: a systematic and meta-analytic review

Abstract

This article presents a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effectiveness of anti-bullying programs in schools. Studies were included if they evaluated the effects of an anti-bullying program by comparing an intervention group who received the program with a control group who did not. Four types of research design were included: a) randomized experiments, b) intervention-control comparisons with before-and-after measures of bullying, c) other intervention-control comparisons, and d) age-cohort designs. Both published and unpublished reports were included. All volumes of 35 journals from 1983 up to the end of May 2009 were hand-searched, as were 18 electronic databases. Reports in languages other than English were also included. A total of 622 reports concerned with bullying prevention were found, and 89 of these reports (describing 53 different program evaluations) were included in our review. Of the 53 different program evaluations, 44 provided data that permitted the calculation of an effect size for bullying or victimization. The meta-analysis of these 44 evaluations showed that, overall, school-based anti-bullying programs are effective: on average, bullying decreased by 20–23% and victimization decreased by 17–20%. Program elements and intervention components that were associated with a decrease in bullying and victimization were identified, based on feedback from researchers about the coding of 40 out of 44 programs. More intensive programs were more effective, as were programs including parent meetings, firm disciplinary methods, and improved playground supervision. Work with peers was associated with an increase in victimization. It is concluded that the time is ripe to mount a new program of research on the effectiveness of anti-bullying programs based on these findings.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Not included in the meta-analysis for reasons explained in the Campbell review.

  2. 2.

    See table 10 from our Campbell review.

  3. 3.

    See Woods et al. (2007: 379) for the outcome measures of the evaluation which did not include any measure of school bullying.

  4. 4.

    For example: Ciucci and Smorti 1998; Gini et al. 2003; Martin et al. 2005; Sprober et al. 2006.

  5. 5.

    See Campbell review, table 7, for a detailed presentation of the key results of each evaluation (i.e., outcome measures before and after the implementation of each program), and for the explanation of how all effect sizes were calculated in the Technical Appendix.

  6. 6.

    For example, see DeRosier 2004; Fox and Boulton 2003; Gollwitzer et al. 2006 from the Campbell review.

References included in the systematic review

References with an asterisk indicate reports on evaluations that were included in the meta-analysis.

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Appendix

Appendix

89 reports of 53 different evaluations*

Randomized experiments

  1. (1)

    ViSC Training Program [Atria and Spiel 2007]; category 5 => excluded due to many missing values

  2. (2)

    Bulli and Pupe [Baldry 2001; Baldry and Farrington 2004]; category 6

  3. (3)

    Project Ploughshares Puppets for Peace [Beran and Shapiro 2005]; category 5

  4. (4)

    Short Video Intervention [Boulton and Flemington 1996]; category 5

  5. (5)

    Friendly Schools [Cross et al. 2004; Pintabona 2006]; category 6

  6. (6)

    S.S.GRIN [DeRosier 2004; DeRosier and Marcus 2005]; category 6

  7. (7)

    Dutch Anti-bullying Program [Fekkes et al. 2006]; category 6

  8. (8)

    SPC and CAPSLE Program [Fonagy et al. 2009]; category 6

  9. (9)

    Steps to Respect [Frey, Edstrom and Hirschstein 2005; Frey et al. 2005; Hirschstein et al. 2007]; category 6

  10. (10)

    Anti-bullying Intervention in Australian Secondary Schools [Hunt 2007]; category 6

  11. (11)

    Youth Matters [Jenson and Dieterich 2007; Jenson et al. 2005a, 2005b, 2006a, 2006b]; category 6

  12. (12)

    Kiva [Karna et al. forthcoming; Salmivalli et al. 2009]; category 6

  13. (13)

    Korean Anti-bullying Program [Kim 2006]; category 5 => excluded; data produced implausible effect size

  14. (14)

    Behavioral Program for Bullying Boys [Meyer and Lesch 2000]; category 5

  15. (15)

    Expect Respect [Rosenbluth et al. 2004; Whitaker et al. 2004]; category 6

  16. (16)

    Pro-ACT + E [Sprober 2006; Sprober et al. 2006]; category 5

  17. (17)

    The Peaceful Schools Experiment [Twemlow et al. 2005]; category 6 => excluded; part of a larger evaluation by Fonagy et al. 2009

Before-and-after, intervention-control comparisons

  1. (1)

    Be-Prox [Alsaker and Valkanover 2001; Alsaker 2004]; category 5

  2. (2)

    Greek Anti-bullying Program [Andreou et al. 2007]; category 6

  3. (3)

    Seattle Trial of the Olweus Program [Bauer et al. 2007]; category 6

  4. (4)

    Dare to Care: Bully Proofing your School Program [Beran et al. 2004]; category 5

  5. (5)

    Progetto Pontassieve [Ciucci and Smorti 1998]; category 6

  6. (6)

    Cooperative Group Work Intervention [Cowie et al. 1994]; category 5 => excluded due to lack of data

  7. (7)

    Transtheoretical-based Tailored Anti-bullying Program [Evers et al. 2007]; category 6

  8. (8)

    Social Skills Training (SST) Program [Fox and Boulton 2003]; category 5

  9. (9)

    Stare bene a scuola: Progetto di prevenzione del bullismo [Gini et al. 2003]; category 5

  10. (10)

    Viennese Social Competence (ViSC) Training [Gollwitzer et al. 2006]; category 5

  11. (11)

    Conflict Resolution Program [Heydenberk et al. 2006]; category 6 => excluded due to lack of data

  12. (12)

    Granada Anti-bullying Program [Martin et al. 2005]; category 5

  13. (13)

    South Carolina Program; implementation of OBPP [Melton et al. 1998; Limber et al. 2004]; category 6

  14. (14)

    ‘Bullyproofing your School’ Program [Menard et al. 2008]; category 6

  15. (15)

    Befriending Intervention Program [Menesini and Benelli 1999; Menesini et al. 2003]; category 5

  16. (16)

    New Bergen Project against Bullying; ‘Bergen 2’ [1997–1998]; category 6

  17. (17)

    Toronto Anti-bullying Program [Pepler et al. 2004]; category 6

  18. (18)

    Ecological Anti-bullying Program [Rahey and Craig 2002]; category 6

  19. (19)

    Short Intensive Intervention in the Czech Republic (Rican et al. 1996]; category 6

  20. (20)

    Flemish Anti-bullying Program [Stevens, De Bourdeaudhuij and Van Oost 2000; Stevens, Van Oost and De Bourdeaudhuij 2000; Stevens et al. 2001, 2004]; category 6 => excluded due to nature of data

  21. (21)

    Anti-bullying Intervention in the Netherlands [Wiefferink et al. 2006]; category 6 => excluded due to lack of data

Other intervention-control comparisons

  1. (1)

    Norwegian Anti-bullying Program [Galloway and Roland 2004]; category 6

  2. (2)

    BEST [Kaiser-Ulrey 2003]; category 5

  3. (3)

    SAVE [Ortega and Del Rey 1999; Ortega et al. 2004]; category 6

  4. (4)

    Kia Kaha [Raskauskas 2007]; category 6

Age-cohort designs

  1. (1)

    Respect [Ertesvag and Vaaland 2007]; category 6

  2. (2)

    Anti-bullying Intervention in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany [Hanewinkel 2004]; category 6 => excluded due to lack of data

  3. (3)

    Anti-bullying Intervention in Kempele Schools [Koivisto 2004]; category 6 => excluded due to lack of data

    Olweus Bullying Prevention Program [OBPP]; category 6:

  4. (4)

    First Bergen Project against Bullying; ‘Bergen 1’ [1983–1985]; category 6

  5. (5)

    First Oslo Project against Bullying; ‘Oslo 1’ [November 1999–November 2000]; category 6

  6. (6)

    New National Initiative Against Bullying in Norway; ‘New National’ [2001–2007]; category 6

  7. (7)

    Five-year Follow-up in Oslo; ‘Oslo 2’ [2001–2006]; category 6

    [Olweus 1991, 1992, 1993a, 1994a, 1994b, 1994c, 1995, 1996a, 1996b, 1996c, 1997a, 1997b, 1997c, Olweus 2004a, 2004b, 2005a, 2005b, Olweus and Alsaker 1991]

  8. (8)

    Donegal Anti-Bullying Program [O’Moore and Minton 2004; O’Moore 2005]; category 6

  9. (9)

    Chula Vista OBPP [Pagliocca et al. 2007]; category 6

  10. (10)

    Finnish Anti-bullying Program [Salmivalli et al. 2004; 2005]; category 6

  11. (11)

    Sheffield Anti-bullying Program [Whitney et al. 1994; Smith 1997; Smith et al. 2004b]; category 6

* Nine evaluations [presented in 12 reports] were excluded from the meta-analysis

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Ttofi , M.M., Farrington , D.P. Effectiveness of school-based programs to reduce bullying: a systematic and meta-analytic review. J Exp Criminol 7, 27–56 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11292-010-9109-1

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Keywords

  • School bullying
  • Intervention programs
  • Program elements
  • Systematic review
  • Meta-analysis