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Effectiveness of school-based programs to reduce bullying: a commentary



Recent decades have seen a focus on intervention programs to reduce school bullying, in light of the severe negative consequences of such behavior. A recent meta-analysis by Ttofi and Farrington (Journal of Experimental Criminology 7: 27–56, 2011) provided encouraging findings in terms of some significant reductions in bullying and victimization achieved by many programs. They also report analyses of effect sizes associated with specific program elements and design features of the interventions. While this is an important step forward, we critique some of the strong policy implications which they draw from these latter analyses.


We discuss four important areas to substantiate this critique: analytical procedure, definitional issues, historical issues, and recent empirical data. As context, we use two particular program elements described by Ttofi and Farrington, namely use of disciplinary measures and work with peers, and one design feature, namely age of pupils.


The findings for the program elements and design feature examined are complex and do not justify strong policy implications at this stage.


We conclude with suggestions for future research directions.

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Correspondence to Peter K. Smith.

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Smith, P.K., Salmivalli, C. & Cowie, H. Effectiveness of school-based programs to reduce bullying: a commentary. J Exp Criminol 8, 433–441 (2012).

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  • Bully
  • Victim
  • School
  • Intervention
  • Discipline
  • Peers