Bullying prevention in schools
Table of Contents
The National Crime Prevention Strategy was established as the Government of Canada's action plan to reduce crime and victimization primarily using crime prevention through social development (CPSD) approach. It is a proactive approach that addresses underlying social, cultural and economic risk factors that can contribute to crime and victimization. As the focal point of the Strategy, the National Crime Prevention Centre (NCPC), part of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada, supports organizations and communities by providing the knowledge and resources they need to facilitate and sustain their crime prevention efforts.
The NCPC's Strategic Plan for 2002/03 – 2005/06 identified the need to collaborate with communities and partners in order to develop, share and apply knowledge on priority issues. One of the priorities selected was school-based anti-bullying programs due to the growing awareness of bullying as an issue among young people and the capacity of the NCPC to provide useful insights from its support for anti-bullying projects across Canada.
The NCPC would like to thank all its community sponsors, academic partners, practitioners in the field of bullying, and NCPC staff who were involved in this study. The informed and passionate efforts of all involved are a testament to the dedication that exists across Canada to working toward the prevention of bullying through the development and sharing of knowledge.
About this document
Bullying Prevention in Schools is a study undertaken by the NCPC on the subject of school-based anti-bullying programs. The goals of the study were to:
- Identify promising practices from academic research on anti-bullying initiatives;
- Examine the practical applications of anti-bullying interventions within NCPC-sponsored projects;
- Compare research and practical applications to make recommendations for further work in this area;
- Highlight NCPC-funded projects that illustrate elements of promising practices in a practical setting; and
- Provide an inventory of accessible anti-bullying tools and products created by NCPC-funded projects that may be applicable elsewhere.
The present study consists of two parts:
- A review of external information Footnote 1 to understand the issue of bullying within a Canadian context and to identify components of promising practices; and
- A review of school-based anti-bullying projects supported under the NCPC over a five-year period between 1998 and 2003.
Both parts of the study will inform future NCPC funding and knowledge development in the area of school-based anti-bullying projects.
A second document entitled Bullying Prevention in Schools: Executive Summary provides an overview of the entire study from promising practices, to results and recommendations. It is available in hard copy by contacting the NCPC at 800-830-3118.
This document is comprised of seven sections: Defining the Problem, Promising Practices, Review of NCPC Projects, Recommendations, Highlighted NCPC-Sponsored Projects, Anti-Bullying Resources, and Appendices.
1.0. Defining the problem
Every child has the right to feel safe at home, at school and in the community (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1990). Bullying is not a normal part of growing up. Research indicates that bullying behaviour doesn't usually go away on its own and often gets worse with time–it needs to be dealt with directly. To stop the hurtful behaviour, adults need to support children who seek their help. They need to respond immediately and take preventative steps to stop the behaviour from happening in the future. The first step is recognizing when a bullying problem has occurred.
The term "bullying" once referred only to physical actions such as hitting, kicking and punching. Not surprisingly, the definition of bullying has evolved over time as research has revealed that other types of non-physical behaviour can have similar impacts on the victim. The damaging effects of psychological and verbal bullying as well as social exclusion are now being recognized, although not everyone incorporates these behaviours into their definition or their action plans.
Bullying is a subset of aggression (Ma, Stewin & Mah, 2001). Aggressive actions such as roughhousing or fighting may be part of a bullying interaction, but they constitute bullying only when they take place within a relationship where the children involved perceive that there is a power differential. Roughhousing and fighting among school children who have a relationship but where there is the same perceived strength (physical or psychological) is not considered bullying (Craig, Peters & Konarski, 1998; Olweus, 1993). Bullying actions are targeted at the victim in a purposive manner and are intended to reduce the perceived power the victim has over the situation or to intentionally harm the victim (Olweus, 1993). The same behaviours when they are committed as random or reactive responses to situations are not recognized as bullying behaviours (see Atlas & Pepler, 1998; Pellegrini & Long, 2002; Pepler & Craig, 2000; Sudermann, Jaffe & Schieck, 1996).
The definition of bullying used in this report is broad based, encompassing a wide range of behaviours within a personal relationship (for other definitions, please see: Ma, Stewin & Mah, 2001; Olweus, 1993; Smith, 2000; Pepler & Craig, 2000). In this report, bullying includes actions within a relationship between a dominant and a less dominant person or group (see Chart 1), where:
- An imbalance of power (real or perceived) is manifest through aggressive actions, physical or psychological (including verbal or social);
- Negative interactions occur that are direct (face-to-face) or indirect (gossip, exclusion);
- Negative actions are taken with an intention to harm. These can include some or all of the following;
- Physical actions (punching, kicking, biting),
- Verbal actions (threats, name calling, insults, ethnoculturally-based or sexual comments), and
- Social exclusion (spreading rumours, ignoring, gossiping, excluding).
- The negative actions are repeated. Either the intensity or the duration of the actions establishes the bully's dominance over the victim.
|Can hurt the young person's body, damage belongings or make the person feel badly about himself or herself.||Can make the young person feel badly about himself or herself.||Can make the young person feel alone and not part of the group.|
Communication and information technology allows for bullying to occur anywhere – while youth are at school, at home or in the community. Cyberbullying refers to the use of information and communication technologies (email, cell phones, pager text messages, internet sites, instant messaging) to physically threaten, verbally harass or socially exclude an individual or group. Using these technologies to distribute damaging messages and pictures allows bullying to remain anonymous and become widespread. For additional information on cyberbullying, visit the Canadian website: Cyberbullying.ca.
1.1. Long-term effects of bullying
Children who are victimized
As bullying is repetitive by definition, the effects of victimization on children and youth can be quite traumatic and long-lasting. Generally, boys and girls who are victimized report symptoms of depression (such as sadness, loss of interest in activities), symptoms of anxiety (such as tenseness, fears, and worries), loss of self-esteem and sometimes, increased levels of aggressive behaviour. Additional effects of bullying on victimized children may include headaches, stomach aches, school absenteeism, and in extreme cases can lead to suicide (CIPB Conference, 2004; Ma, Stewin & Mah, 2001; Neary and Joseph, 1994; Olweus, 1993; Slee, 1995). Depending on the situation, some individuals who are victimized as children report psychological harm into adulthood including continued distress, self-blame, fear, and internalized problems, such as depression (Craig, Peters & Konarski, 1998; Glover, Gough, Johnson & Cartwright, 2000; Haynie et al., 2001; Pepler & Craig, 2000; Smith, 2000; Wilke, n.d.).
Children who bully
Contrary to popular opinion, bullying does not begin and end at school. Bullying behaviour, as with other forms of violent behaviour, continues outside of the school environment and potentially throughout an individual's life unless there is adequate intervention (Pepler & Craig, 2000; Rigby, Smith & Pepler, 2004). Left unchecked, a five-year-old who displays bullying behaviours will likely exhibit similar behaviours later in life. Bullying during childhood is closely associated with future antisocial behaviour in adolescence and adulthood (Craig, Peters & Konarski, 1998). Research shows that children who bully may turn into adolescents who sexually harass, become involved in delinquent behaviours, gang-related activities, or engage in dating violence (Pepler & Craig, 2000, Sampson, 2002; Sudermann, Jaffe & Schiek, 1996). A U.S. study reported in Fox et al. (2003) found that bullies are seven times more likely than other students to carry weapons to school. Olweus (1993) found that children who bullied in grade 6 to 9 are six times more likely to have a criminal record by the age of 24. As adults, children who bully may display harassment in the workplace or may commit spousal, child, or senior abuse (Craig and Pepler, 2000; Rigby, 2003).
Children who bully have not learned pro-social ways to resolve their interpersonal conflicts and frustrations. They need help to change their interpersonal patterns before they become deeply ingrained (Craig, Peters & Konarski, 1998; Fox et al, 2003; Haynie et al., 2001). Children who continue to bully can later suffer psychological problems such as externalizing problems (conduct disorders), aggressive tendencies, and occasionally depressive symptoms (Harris, Petrie, and Willoughby, 2002; Artz & Nicholson, 2002; Pepler & Craig, 2000).
1.2. Public awareness
The public tends to get information on social issues from media sources rather than academic journals or research documents. The news media, both television and print, have drawn public attention to incidents of bullying. However, the coverage can sensationalize an issue, with unintended consequences. Tragic news headings such as "Schoolboy Stabbing Arrest", "Bullies, Bullied: Armed and Dangerous" and "Tip Foils High School Massacre in Maritimes" lead parents to believe that school violence is escalating. The opposite is true: school shootings and stabbings remain isolated, rare events (Luczko & Reddy, 2002). Concern felt by parents as a result of tragic media reports can have positive effects in that it can encourage members of the community to work together to find solutions. However, public pressure can sometimes lead to quick fixes that can be harmful. For example, solutions that emphasize control over cooperation, such as school zero tolerance policies (e.g., calls for expulsion, metal detectors, and surveillance cameras) have been shown by research to be ineffective in reducing bullying (Fox et al., 2003; Pepler, Smith & Rigby, 2004; Shaw, 2001; Sampson, 2002; Skiba & Peterson, 1999).
In addition to news reports of bullying, the popular media has an influence on children through exposure to aggression in television programming, movies, music and video games (Roberts, Hanvey & Varga-Toth, 2003). Aggressive children are more likely than non-aggressive children to be drawn to and imitate media violence (Huesmann, Lagerspetz & Eron, 1984). In a national conference in the United States, children indicated that while popular media, such as videogames and movies, does not cause violence, it does play a role in promoting such behaviour and desensitizing its audience (National Association of Attorneys General, 2000). A Canadian study revealed that 76% of children believe that popular media contains violent and aggressive images and content (Craig, Connolly & Pepler, 2003). In this same study, 97% of children and youth indicated the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of students are largely moulded by media influences (Craig, Connolly & Pepler, 2003).
The role of the media in educating and engaging the public on the issue of bullying is undeniable. Techniques for reporting bullying incidents, such as investigative journalism, can provide the public with a critical analysis of the issue that incorporates expert opinion and discussion. The public needs accurate knowledge and the media is well positioned to explain the issues surrounding youth violence and bullying to the public.Along with analytical journalism, a media-savvy public can recognize when they are being provided with a balanced approach to issues and come to its own conclusions. Some media groups such as Concerned Children's Advertisers provide media literacy for children and adults so that they can analyze information in a more critical manner rather than accepting messages at face value. With accurate knowledge from the media, the public can shift the focus from fearing an issue to actively identifying problem-solving approaches to address it.
1.3. Canadian data
Canadian researchers began collecting data in the early-1990s to determine the prevalence of bullying in Canadian schools. These studies generally conclude that Canadian students, like students in other countries around the world, suffer from bullying at school at rates and frequencies that cannot be ignored (Craig, Peters & Konarski, 1998; Sudermann, Jaffe & Schieck, 1996). A study conducted by the World Health Organization, which surveyed the health behaviours of school-aged children around the world, found that Canada ranked in the middle of 35 countries studied for level of bullying Footnote 2 (Craig & Harel, 2004). Other Canadian studies have identified bullying and victimization rates and the impact on these rates of peers and adults.
- Elementary school: In a survey of students aged 4 to 14 years in 16 Toronto schools (Kindergarten to grade 8), 15% of students reported having bullied others more than once or twice during the term (Charach, Pepler, & Ziegler, 1995). Another Canadian study of children aged 4 to 11 years found that bullying in schools occurred quite regularly: 9% of bullies reported bullying others every week (Craig, Peters and Konarski, 1998).
- High school: Research conducted with Canadian high school students revealed that 11% of students reported bullying others within a one week period (Pepler, Craig & Connolly, 2003).
- Gender differences in elementary school: A Canadian survey of students found that 14% of boys and 9% of girls aged 4 to 11 years reported bullying others (Craig, Peters and Konarski, 1998).
- Gender differences in middle school: A Canadian study found that 42% of boys and 23% of girls in Grades 6, 7, and 8 reported that they had bullied others in the past two months (Pepler, Craig, Connolly, Yuile, McMaster & Jiang, 2005).
- Gender differences in high school: A Canadian study found that 41% of boys and 21% of girls in Grades 9 through 12 reported that they had bullied others over a 2 month period. A longitudinal study of students between the ages of 10 and 18, found that of those students who bully, 19% of boys and 4% of girls were involved in frequent and consistent bullying behaviour (Pepler, Craig, Connolly, Yuile, McMaster & Jiang, 2005).
- Elementary school: In a survey of students aged 4 to 14 years in 16 Toronto schools (Kindergarten to grade 8), 20% of children reported being victimized more than once or twice during a term (Charach, Pepler, & Ziegler, 1995).
- High school: A study of Canadian high school students found that 10-15% of students reported being bullied at least once within a one week period (Pepler, Craig & Connolly, 2003).
- Frequency: A Canadian study using behavioural observation of children interacting at school revealed that bullying on the playground occurs once every seven minutes in primary grades. While classrooms had a more pro-social atmosphere, the rate of bullying was still quite high at once every 25 minutes (Pepler & Craig, 1997).
- Gender differences in elementary school: A Canadian report revealed that 5% of boys and 7% of girls aged 4 to 11 years were victimized by others (Craig, Peters and Konarski, 1998).
- Gender differences in middle school and high school: A 2001-2002 Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children survey conducted by a research group from Queen's University reported on prevalence rates of bullying in middle school and high school (Craig, 2004). In grades six to ten, 10-13% of boys reported being bullied once or twice per month or more, with prevalence rates peaking in grade ten. For girls in the same grades, 4-11% reported being bullied once or twice per month or more, with prevalence rates peaking in grade eight.
- In a Canadian study of 5,000 elementary and middle school students, 41% reported that they try to help the victim in some way.
- When compared to younger students, older students in grades 7 and 8 were less likely to report that they would support victims of bullying.
- Overall, of those who witnessed bullying incidents, between 11% and 19% of students actually tried to stop it (Craig & Pepler, 1997; Hawkins, Pepler & Craig, 2001).
- Another study found that 31% of students reported that they would join in bullying someone they did not like (Connolly, Pepler & Craig, 2003).
- Adults are generally unaware of most bullying that occurs among children. In one elementary school, teachers were observed to intervene in only 11% of bullying incidents in the classroom (Atlas & Pepler, 1998). In another study, school staff intervened in only 4% of all bullying incidents (Craig & Pepler, 1997).
- In a Canadian survey of teachers and students, most teachers (75%) reported they usually intervened to stop a bullying incident but only 25% of the students agreed (Charach et al., 1995). Adults who were nearby when the bullying occurred intervened 25% of the time (Craig & Pepler, 1997). Students indicated that low intervention rates may be due to teachers not being present when the incident occurred, not recognizing the incident as bullying behaviour, or choosing not to intervene for other reasons (Atlas & Pepler, 1998; Craig & Pepler, 1997).
- Students felt all adults should play a major role in solving bullying problems (Charach et al., 1995). In fact, most child who were bullied (over two thirds) told an adult, either a parent or teacher (Charach et al., 1995).
2.0. Promising practices
As part of the NCPC study on school-based anti-bullying programs, external sources of knowledge were used including articles in academic journals, interviews with academic experts in the field, attendance at conferences on school violence and information from anti-bullying websites. From this review, it was found that research experts both within Canada and internationally identified similar success factors for designing, implementing and evaluating school-based anti-bullying initiatives.
These success factors provide context for assessing the lessons learned from NCPC project investment in this area. There is less consensus, however, on the degree of success that can be expected from an anti-bullying intervention. Successful interventions claim anywhere from a 20% to 70% decrease in the amount of bullying in the school (Fox et al, 2003; Ma, Stewin & Mah, 2001; Olweus, 1993; Rigby, 2002; Rigby, Smith & Pepler, 2004; Smith, 2000).
According to international research, the benefits of bullying interventions can emerge after a relatively short period of time, although lasting change requires a long-term investment (Shaw, 2001; Pepler, Smith & Rigby, 2004; Smith, 2000). Smith (2000) found that bullying is noticeably reduced within the first year of implementation in primary schools and within two or three years after implementation in secondary schools. However, not all interventions, despite their good intentions, have been effective in reducing bullying activities in school. Research has shown that narrowly focused programs directed solely at bullies or their victims; situational deterrents (e.g., increasing supervision in bullying hot spots); and zero tolerance policies including school expulsion have limited effectiveness and may actually increase or exacerbate the problem (Fox et al, 2003; Mayencourt, Locke & McMahon, 2003; Pepler, Smith & Rigby, 2004; Shaw, 2001).
The promising practices identified in the research provide process and how-to guidelines for successful school-based interventions; however, less information is available regarding specific content or materials (Rigby, 2003). These guidelines called for a whole school approach, which is explained in detail below.
2.2. The whole school approach
Both Canadian and international research stress the need for a whole school approach to bullying which includes the adoption of an anti-bullying policy and anti-bullying initiatives (Fox et al, 2003; Gottfredson, Wilson & Skroban Najara, 2002; Olweus, 1993; Pepler & Craig, 2000; Rigby, 2002; Sampson, 2002; Scheckner et al, 2002; Shaw, 2001; Smith, 2000; Sudermann, Jaffe & Schieck, 1996) Footnote 3. The idea behind this approach, first proposed by Olweus (1993), is that the policy and the program reinforce each other and help communicate behavioural expectations for everyone involved in the daily activities of a school.
Until now, a whole school approach has not been widely implemented in Canada (Shaw, 2003). To date, the more frequent approach is to deal with individuals, primarily those who bully and those who are victimized. While this approach addresses the immediate bullying incident and the primary individuals involved, it ignores the impact of environmental factors such as the school's culture, peer and bystander influence, and family dynamics that can have a huge effect on bullying incidents. Within a whole school approach, a component focusing on individuals identified as at risk for being bullied or for bullying others is useful, but it should not be the exclusive focus of a policy or intervention at the school (Ma, Stewin & Mah, 2001).
Support and commitment must start with school board directors and continue through the entire school system to include administrators, principals, secretaries, teachers, coaches and students. The following are the two main components of a whole school approach:
- Development of a whole school policy; and
- Development of whole school initiatives in support of the policy.
2.3. Development of a whole school policy
The first step in a whole school approach to bullying is the creation of an anti-bullying policy or more recently a broad school safety policy. Designed to promote an anti-bullying message throughout the school, the policy should outline the roles, responsibilities and procedures for staff and other adults including parents and community volunteers; reporting steps for students and staff dealing with bullying incidents; a code of conduct for students; response protocols; and consequences for bullying (Lumsden, 2002; Pepler & Craig, 2000; Smith, 2000). The best anti-bullying policies also outline formative consequences that can be adapted to fit the circumstances of particular incidents that have taken place at the school. Formative consequences provide opportunities for students who bully to learn more pro-social ways of interacting with others and to make amends to those affected by their negative behaviour (Heinrichs, 2003; Pepler & Craig, 2000). Punitive consequences, such as expulsion, do very little to change behaviour and may actually exacerbate the problems for the student who may feel less connected to the school as a result (Fox et al, 2003; Mayencourt, Locke & McMahon, 2003; Pepler, Smith & Rigby, 2004; Shaw, 2001).
Successful implementation of a whole school policy requires the leadership of the principal and the support of teachers, students, and parents. Development of a policy typically follows four steps as described below (Pellegini, 2002;Smith, 2000):
- Conducting a school needs assessment;
- Developing a policy in consultation with key stakeholders;
- Implementing the policy in the school; and
- Evaluating the policy
a. Conducting a school needs assessment
The first step in creating a policy involves conducting a school needs assessment. It helps determine the parameters and extent of the school's problem before deciding upon the best course of action (National Children's Bureau, 2000; Pepler & Craig, 2000; Pellegrini, 2002; Sampson, 2002). The main purpose of the needs assessment is to determine the basics of the issue: the who, what, when, where, why, and how. Needs assessments should be conducted throughout the project, starting with a baseline assessment and followed by periodic assessments throughout the course of the intervention to provide updated information on the school's needs (National Crime Prevention Centre, 1997; Mayencourt, Locke & McMahon, 2003; Shaw, 2001). This can be accomplished through various measurement tools including surveys, questionnaires, interviews, mapping hotspots for bullying, and teacher ratings of student behaviour (Lumsden, 2002; Sampson, 2002). For more information on, and examples of, needs assessments, please see Appendix A.
b. Developing a policy in consultation with multiple stakeholders
In developing a policy, it is helpful to establish a steering committee that involves the school principal, representatives from parent councils, teachers, other school staff, and students (Pepler & Craig, 2000; Smith, 2000). By including staff, students, and parents in the creation and implementation of anti-bullying policies, the school administrators receive valuable input from all those directly affected (Pellegrini, 2002). When students feel they have contributed to the policy, they feel empowered to respect and implement it. Pepler and Craig (2000) emphasize the importance of involving students in the intervention in the early stages of developing a whole school anti-bullying policy. Inclusion of students in developing the policy can help foster a feeling of belonging and school pride.
c. Implementing the policy in the school
The involvement of all stakeholders in the creation of the policy increases the likelihood that it will be respected and enforced (Glover, Gough, Johnson & Cartwright, 2000). The approved policy should be formally introduced to students, staff, and parents to ensure universal awareness of its existence and its key components. It can be launched in various ways including presentations, newsletters or poster campaigns. To help integrate the policy into regular school activities and culture, the policy requires continued promotion, support and commitment from staff, students and their parents throughout the school year. Continual promotion of the policy will also serve to increase its effectiveness within the school (Pepler & Craig, 2000; Shannon & McCall, n.d.; Smith, 2000).
d. Evaluating the policy
Policies require periodic review and modification to remain relevant to the school and its students (Glover & Cartwright, 1998). Once implemented, key groups involved in the development of the policy should provide their assessment of the policy's progress using brief surveys, questionnaires, interviews or other means to collect their comments. This is an essential step, as a policy that has been forgotten or applied haphazardly will quickly become ineffective.
A formal evaluation process conducted by a third party not directly responsible for the implementation can provide objective evidence of the effectiveness of an anti-bullying policy (Smith, 2000). This evidence can provide additional incentive to continue the policy beyond the initial implementation period or to expand its application to other schools.
2.4. Developing a whole school initiative
A whole-school initiative requires the continuous support and dedication of all involved. This includes the support of school administrators, principals, teachers, other school staff and students. The following are the main components of a wholeschool approach to school-based anti-bullying initiatives:
- Planning the initiative: including content development, evaluation framework, and sustainability;
- Involving multiple stakeholders;
- Including students in program development and delivery;
- Addressing multiple risk and protective factors (the project works on several levels to simultaneously impact multiple risk factors);
- Providing age appropriate materials, discussions and time limits;
- Creating a gender-specific approach;
- Intervening when target behaviour is just emerging; and
- Creating longer-term interventions.
a. Planning the initiative
Once a policy has been implemented, an anti-bullying initiative designed to increase awareness, educate and ultimately change students' attitudes and behaviours, can be introduced. Typically, approaches include both situational elements (e.g., better supervision, physical security, safety plans) and social development elements (e.g., conflict resolution, awareness programs, and coping strategies). It is important to note that what is effective in one community will not necessarily be effective in another; the sponsors of the initiative need to ensure it addresses the local school and community needs.
Deciding on the type of programming takes time and involves a number of decisions. The first decision is whether to buy an off-the-shelf program or design a customized approach to fit the school's needs and culture Footnote 4. Pre-packaged programs often cost money and may involve ongoing costs. While they usually provide evidence of effectiveness, success in one location may not translate to another location. No matter how effective a pre-packaged program may appear, all programs require tailoring to address the particular issues and needs of a school. The process of tailoring an intervention serves to strengthen the commitment of school staff, students, parents and other community volunteers. They can take more ownership of the process. As needs evolve, they understand when and how to change the program so it response appropriately.
Developing a new approach ensures local concerns are addressed more closely and creates a strong sense of ownership and commitment. A customized initiative is more likely than a pre-packaged one to fit the cultural and idiosyncratic needs of the school. However, it takes more time to develop and this lead time needs to be built into the planning process. In addition, a new program will not have evidence of success prior to implementation, so evaluation of its effectiveness is essential. Interventions, unless carefully developed, can be ineffective or increase the problem.
Another crucial decision at the planning stage is whether the school has the leadership and capacity to support change and deliver an effective anti-bullying program. Too often, the schools most in need of an intervention lack the capacity to support one, resulting in a failed attempt that can undermine future efforts. The community needs time to examine different approaches to infrastructure development, capacity building, and partnership development and implementation before the intervention begins (National Crime Prevention Centre, 2000). In some instances, program delivery by outside experts can increase the effectiveness and longevity of school-based anti-violence programs (Gottfredson, Wilson & Skroban Najara, 2002). For additional information and guidelines on project planning, see Appendix A.
b. Involving multiple stakeholders
At the planning stages, project sponsors should invest their time and resources in developing partnerships that are most likely to contribute to their ultimate goals. Project partners can include those individuals or organizations that can contribute financial or in-kind support to the project. Successful partnerships are built on shared commitment, values, resources, and understanding of the need to work together. A partnership can benefit both parties when there is effective leadership and a common mandate (JamiesonHartGraves Consulting, 2002). For additional information and guidelines on roles and responsibilities for different stakeholders, please see Appendix B.
c. Including students in program development and delivery
In Canadian anti-bullying initiatives, students are more likely to be involved in project delivery rather than project development. Students, usually youth, often get involved in role playing or creating a theatre piece for presentation to other students; however, it is also important to provide students with opportunities to play a more active role in developing approaches to address bullying in schools (Pepler & Craig, 2000; Shannon & McCall, n.d.). Including children and youth in the development and delivery of anti-bullying interventions is a recent, although less common, trend.
In 1999, the United States ' National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) sponsored four "listening conferences," which involved discussions between students, teachers, administrators, parents and Attorneys General on the topic of youth violence. The conferences focused on the causes and solutions of violence among youth. The students' opinions and ideas were noted and then published in the document entitled Bruised Inside (2000). Demonstrating youth commitment and responsibility for the issue, the document emphasized the degree to which youth felt it was up to them to solve their own problems. Troubles in the home and unhealthy relationships among youth were identified contributing to youth violence. In addition, students stressed the importance of dealing with the root causes of violent behaviour and suggested possible solutions including peer mediation, after-school programs, and anti-bullying training.
These conferences demonstrated that youth have ideas about the causes of youth violence and bullying and about what interventions may be successful. It is important for these views to be taken into consideration when creating an intervention on their behalf.
d. Addressing multiple risk and protective factors: projects work on several levels
Crime prevention through social development is an approach to preventing crime and victimization that recognizes the negative and positive influences that social, cultural and economic factors can have on an individual's attitudes and behaviour. These influences are often referred to as risk and protective factors.
There is no formula for predicting future criminal behaviour of individuals because causal or direct relationships between specific risk factors and criminal behaviour are difficult to identify. Some risk factors are more predictive than others; early onset of childhood aggression is the best indicator for adult aggression (Farrington, 1998; Hawkins et al., 1998; Huesmann, Eron & Dubow, 2002).
However, researchers cannot reliably identify an individual's engagement in anti-social or criminal behaviour. Rather, the risk factors associated with anti-social and offending behaviour are cumulative so that they increase the likelihood that a child will exhibit bullying behaviour or be subjected to victimization (Brewster & Railsback, 2001; Olweus, 1993; Smith, 2000; Wright, 2004). Furthermore, it is unclear how many risk factors are necessary to reliably predict who will engage in anti-social behaviour such as bullying (Craig, Peters & Konarski, 1998; National Crime Prevention Centre, 2004; Smith, 2000). For more information on risk and protective factors in general, see Appendix C.
Risk factors for bullying
Key risk factors for bullying behaviour include persistent negative attitudes and early aggressive behaviour (Finnish Centre for Health Promotion, n.d.; National Crime Prevention Centre, 2004; Olweus, 1993; Pepler & Craig, 2000). In addition, although there are exceptions, those who bully tend to be described as hyperactive, disruptive, impulsive, and overactive (Lowenstein, 1978; Olweus, 1987). They are generally aggressive toward their peers, teachers, parents, siblings, and others, are attracted to situations with aggressive content, and have positive attitudes about aggression (Batsche & Knoff, 1994; Olweus, 1991; 1993; Stephenson and Smith, 1989). There are also gender differences: boys in primary school who bully tend to be physically stronger and have a high need to dominate others (Olweus, 1987; 1993). In contrast, girls who bully tend to be physically weaker than other girls in their class (Roland, 1989). Generally, children of both genders who bully have little empathy for their victims and show little or no remorse for their actions (Olweus, 1987; 1993; Smith & Shu, 2000). While a large body of research points to personal characteristics and family factors as key risk factors for bullying behaviour, new research indicates bullying behaviour is also affected by other (more variable) factors such as school climate and classroom management (Galloway & Roland, 2004).
Risk factors for victimization
Traditionally, victimized children have been characterized as being physically different than non-victimized children; those who are "fat, red-haired, and wear glasses" (Olweus, 1991), for example, were believed to be more commonly targeted by bullies. However, Olweus' study of bullied and non-bullied boys found no empirical support for this belief: the victims in this study were no more likely to have externally different characteristics than the children not exposed to bullying (Olweus, 1991).
Current research further supports Olweus' findings (Batsche & Knoff, 1994; Haynie et al., 2001; National Resource Centre for Safe Schools, 1999) and goes one step further. While a large body of research has identified common characteristics of children who are victimized, such as anxiety, sensitivity, withdrawn behaviours, and low self-esteem (Batsche & Knoff, 1994; Goldbaum, Craig, Pepler & Connolly, 2003; Heinrichs, 2003; Olweus, 1993), not all children who fit this profile are victimized. Conversely, children who do not fit the profile can be targeted for bullying (Hoover & Oliver, 1996; Seddon, McLellan & Lajoie, 2000; Wright, 2004). Some research found that these common characteristics may in fact be the result of being bullied rather than due to the personality traits of the victim (Brewster & Railsback, 2001; Haynie et al., 2001; Olweus, 1993; Wright, 2004). Indeed while victimized children often report low self-esteem, this may be an effect, at least partially, of repeated exposure to victimization (Besag, 1989; Olweus, 1993).
In terms of chronic victimization, a child's response to aggressive behaviour can have a significant impact. Research has shown that passive or fearful reactions, as well as aggressive responses, to bullying can further provoke the instigator, leading to a cycle of aggressive interactions (Bully OnLine, n.d.; Camodeca, Goossens, Meerum Terwogt & Schuengel, 2002; Ma, 2002; Mahady Wilton, Craig & Pepler, 2000; Mayencourt, Locke & McMahon, 2003; Olweus, 1993; Sudermann, Jaffe & Schieck, 1996). Furthermore, children with few friends make easy targets for bullies because they do not have others who can defend them (Goldbaum, Craig, Pepler & Connolly, 2003; Olweus, 1993; Smith, 2000; Pellegrini & Long, 2003). Other risk factors that are correlated with victimization include age and gender, both of which put the child at risk for bullying (Charach et al. 1995). Typically, older children bully younger children as well as children their own age. Physical bullying occurs more between boys and social bullying occurs more between girls (Olweus, 1993; Salmivalli, Kaukiainen & Lagerspetz, 2000; Smith, 2000).
Risk factors for bully-victims
The majority of research on bullying deals specifically with those who bully or those who are victimized. However, research suggests that a small portion of children and youth are both bullied and bully others (Haynie et al., 2001; Olweus, 1991; 1993). A study by Haynie et al. (2001) found that such children are more prone to exhibit increased levels of problem behaviours, depressive symptoms, lower self-control and social competence, as well as lower levels of school achievements and adjustment (Duncan, 1999; Pellegrini, 2002). They are at higher risk of being bullied and engaging in antisocial or aggressive behaviours later in life. The study indicated that these individuals are more likely to be involved in deviant peer groups, and less likely to be able to form positive and healthy peer relationships.
The bystander factor
A bullying incident directly involves only a handful of students but there are typically other students who are indirectly involved as bystanders (Hawkins, Pepler & Craig, 2001; Pepler, Craig, O'Connell, Atlas & Charach, 2004). Research indicates 85% of bullying incidents are witnessed by other students, yet bystanders try to stop the bullying only 11% to 22% of the time (Atlas & Pepler, 1998; Craig & Pepler, 1997). Contrary to popular belief, children who witness a bullying incident do not play a neutral role. Research states that bystanders may actually encourage and perpetuate the bullying problem; this occurs either directly, through actively joining in the bullying, or indirectly, by not taking a stand against the bully (Olweus, 1993; Pepler and Craig, 2000; Salmivalli, Huttunen & Lagerspetz, 1997; Smith & Shu, 2000; Wright, 2004). By failing to stand up to bullies, peer groups play a key role in locking bullies and victims into their respective roles (Sutton, Smith, and Swettenham, 1999). When bystanders do take an active stand, bullying is stopped within ten seconds over half of the time (Hawkins, Pepler & Craig, 2001).
Creating a positive school culture (including respect and tolerance of others, and clear academic and behavioural expectations) can be an effective strategy to reduce student bullying behaviour (Lumsden, 2002; Mayencourt, Locke & McMahon, 2003; Ma, 2002; Pepler, Smith & Rigby, 2004; Shannon & McCall, n.d; Stewart, 2003). Other practical solutions to combat bullying can include steps to reduce the number of opportunities a child or youth has to engage in bullying behaviour. Depending on the nature of the bullying situation, schools may find it helpful to use the following environmental and situational strategies within a whole school program (Catalano et al., 1998; Ma, Stewin & Mah, 2001; Sampson, 2002; U.S. Department of Education, 2003):
- Developing structured activities in less supervised areas: having trained teachers or older students promote activities at break times can limit the opportunities for bullying to take place;
- Staggering breaks and class-release times: teachers have fewer students to monitor at once. This makes it easier for teachers to supervise hallways and be able to spot incidents of bullying; and
- Increasing supervision in high risk areas: having more teachers monitors the hallways, paying particular attention to areas such as bathrooms, isolated areas of the playground, and lunchrooms can reduce students' opportunities to bully. The hot spots can be identified through an environmental assessment.
Another strong protective school factor for vulnerable children is a pro-social atmosphere within the classroom (Roland & Galloway, 2002). A positive classroom climate can help to lower psychological aggression and physical aggression. Features of a positive classroom environment include: student oriented methods of teaching; life-oriented subjects; chances for achievement; positive teacher/student relationships; social commitment; classroom cohesion; and clear rules and restrictions on behaviour (Heinrichs, 2003, Mayencourt, Locke & McMahon, 2003; Pepler & Craig, 2000; Roland & Galloway, 2002; Sudermann, Jaffe & Schieck, 1996). Outside of the classroom, the attitudes, routines and behaviour of teachers and other school staff are directly related to the prevention and control of bullying behaviour (Batsche & Knoff, 1994; Olweus, 1993). Adults within the school need to ensure they display the appropriate behaviours and attitudes favouring a culture of respect if they expect students to accept and act on the school anti-bullying policy. Adults' modelling and messaging of prosocial behaviours are critical to bullying prevention efforts.
e. Providing age appropriate materials, discussions and timelines
A key goal of an anti-bullying intervention is to teach appropriate social skills to help children develop healthier interpersonal relationships (Smith, 2000). While it is important to target all students, one generic approach will not serve for all age groups since cognitive development and bullying behaviours vary across age (Pepler, Smith & Rigby, 2004). Interventions, therefore, must be tailored to the age of the child and the type of bullying or aggressive behaviours that are being displayed.
Developmental research on bullying has found that schoolaged children use different types of aggression in primary, junior and secondary grade levels (Pepler & Craig, 2000). While younger students experience more direct bullying such as pushing and shoving, older students experience more indirect bullying such as gossip or social exclusion (Pepler & Craig, 2000). In addition, adolescence is accompanied by the emergence of new bullying behaviours in the form of sexual harassment, dating violence and homophobia. While dating violence occurs within intimate relationships, homophobia and sexual harassment are directed more broadly in relationships with students in a particular social group or in the school. The most common form of sexual harassment occurs between boys in the form of homophobic insults; however, both sexes engage in the sexual harassment of peers through inappropriate insults related to the physical changes occurring during puberty (Connolly, Pepler & Craig, 2003a).
Across all age groups, school-based anti-bullying programs should provide definitions of bullying, discussions on how bullying affects everybody, and what students can do to eliminate bullying in their school (Pepler & Craig, 2000; Sampson, 2002). Interventions should also include components designed to build social skills for children and youth Footnote 5 such as lessons on interpersonal skills, assertiveness, empathy and conflict resolution (Lumsden, 2002). Generally, initiatives for the younger grades should focus on the development of positive social skills, empathy and respect for peers. Initiatives geared toward older grades can incorporate more student involvement in the development and delivery of school-based anti-bullying initiatives, while still emphasizing empathy, social skills development and respect for all within the school. For more information on guidelines on program content by grade level, see Appendix D.
f. Creating a gender-specific approach
At each developmental stage, gender is a significant factor. Bullying among children at the primary level is usually committed against same-sex peers whereas bullying in junior grades and higher is aimed at both same-sex and opposite sex peers. A commonly held belief is that boys are more aggressive and are more likely to bully than girls. Much of the past research and policy development has focused on male patterns of aggressive behaviour. However, more recent research reveals that girls also engage in aggressive behaviour, but the nature, frequency, and reaction to bullying is different from boys. Some gender differences are described below:
- Type: Girls typically display more indirect aggression such as social exclusion, rumours and gossip, whereas boys tend to use more physical displays such as hitting, punching and kicking (Casey-Cannon, Hayward & Gowen, 2001; Olweus, 1993; Salmivalli, Kaukianinen & Lagerspetz, 2000; Smith & Shu, 2000).
- Bullying behaviour: Canadian studies indicate that boys consistently reported bullying others more frequently than girls (Craig, Peters & Konarski, 1998; Pepler, Craig, Connolly & Jiang, 2004). One study of students in grades 5 through 12 revealed that over a one-week period, 24% of boys and 14% of girls reported bullying others, with frequency peaking in grade 9 for both sexes (Pepler, Craig & Connolly, 2003). An observational study revealed that boys bullied at a rate of 5.2 incidents per hour, while girls bullied at a rate of 2.7 incidents per hour (Craig & Pepler, 1997).
- Nature of bullying behaviour: Canadian research revealed that 14% of boys aged 4 to 11 bully others and 5% of boys are victimized. For girls, 9% aged 4 to 11 bully others while 7% report being victimized. This suggests that female bullying is more one-on-one, while male bullying may be more group-oriented (Craig, Peters & Konarski, 1998). Another study suggests boys are more likely than girls to bully members of the same sex (Craig & Pepler, 1997).
- Self-reported victimization: The method of reporting may have an impact on disclosure of victimization for boys and girls. One study revealed that boys were more likely than girls to disclose their victimization in a survey (Sudermann, Jaffe & Schieck, 1996). For boys, the self-report rates of bullying and victimization were higher than what they reported to their parents. Girls, on the other hand, were more likely than boys to discuss the issue with a parent. Their self-reported rates of bullying and victimization were similar to the reports they made to their parents (Craig, Peters & Konarski, 1998).
- Self-reported bullying: More boys than girls admit to having bullied others (Craig, 2004; Sudermann, Jaffe & Schieck, 1996). However, when the bullying behaviour of boys and girls are observed on the playground, the rate of bullying for both sexes is quite similar (Craig & Pepler, 1997). Another Canadian study found that boys with high personal problems and girls with high social problems were at risk for bullying their peers (Pepler, Craig & Connolly, 2003).
- Reaction to bullying: Studies show that boys are more stimulated by aggressive behaviour and, by nature, may be more inclined than girls to play a spectator role in bullying incidents (Craig & Pepler, 1997; Riecken & Artz, 1997). As such, male bystander reactions to bullying serve to reinforce the bullying behaviour they are watching.
- Sexual harassment: The emergence of bullying with sexual undertones coincides with changes related to puberty that can start in grade five and peak in grade nine. Boys who bullied in primary and junior grades are the most likely perpetrators of sexual harassment in higher grades (Pellegrini, 2002). Self-reports of boys in grades 6 to 10 indicated they consistently engaged in more sexual harassment of other students in the form of making sexual jokes, comments or gestures than girls of the same age (Craig, 2004). While both genders are victimized, in most grades, girls are more likely than boys to be sexually harassed (Craig, 2004; Riecken & Artz, 1997).
- Behavioural change: A Canadian study found differences between boys and girls in terms of their attitudes towards violence prevention and their willingness to change their own negative behaviours (Artz, Riecken, MacIntyre, Lam & Maczewski, 2000). According to the study, girls reported lower involvement in all forms of violent behaviour, higher levels of sensitivity to the effects of violence, and a greater willingness to adopt prosocial values and attitudes relative to the boys. As a result of these differences, the researchers suggested that gender based instruction be a part of violence prevention programs. Furthermore, it may also be effective to develop gender based tools and resources for schools to help boys and girls look past social and cultural pressures to adhere to traditional gender stereotypes.
For additional information on areas where more work needs to be done in customizing intervention programs, see Appendix E.
g. Intervening when target behaviour is just emerging
Research indicates that early intervention is the most effective approach, as aggressive and passive patterns of behaviour can be well established by the age of eight (Pepler, Smith & Rigby, 2004; Scheckner et al, 2002; Shaw, 2001; Tremblay et al., 1998). In targeting risk factors at least before adolescence, practitioners have a better chance at countering them effectively. At this age, problematic behaviour patterns will not be as deeply ingrained, making it easier for the individual to change.
Critical periods for intervention also occur when new bullying behaviours emerge. As indicated earlier, new bullying behaviours emerge at primary, junior and secondary school levels. Interventions at each level are needed to ensure that emerging behaviours are addressed before they become ingrained (Espelage, Bosworth & Simon, 2000; Pelligrini & Long, 2002; Pepler & Craig, 2000; Pepler, Smith & Rigby, 2004).
h. Creating long-term interventions
Experts have concluded that most successful anti-violence projects are long-term (Eslea & Smith, 1998; Gottfredson, 2002; Mayencourt, Locke & McMahon, 2003; Scheckner et al, 2002; Shaw, 2001; Smith, 2000). The process that leads to success demands commitment to the initiative beyond a few months or a year (Pepler, Craig, Ziegler & Charach, 1994). Researchers assert that bullying prevention programs must be delivered over a long period of time so as to continually emphasize the anti-bullying message (Gottfredson, 2002; Sampson, 2002). Without constant and consistent reinforcement of positive social skills and behaviours, the program may only have short-term effects, with the end result being a re-emergence of problem behaviours.
2.5. Developing comprehensive community approaches
A comprehensive approach can involve parents, community leaders, sports and recreational organizations, health, education or criminal justice professionals in addressing the problems of bullying that are often first recognized by the school (Shaw, 2001; 2003). Research indicates that involving the broader community may increase the effectiveness of school-based initiatives (presented at the CIPB Conference, November 2004; Pepler, Smith & Rigby, 2004; Shaw 2003). Comprehensive approaches educate the entire community on bullying and how to effectively prevent bullying incidents. With a broad community base, children and youth receive consistent messages about how to respond to bullying.
A team of Canadian researchers conducted a recent review of 46 school-based bullying prevention initiatives (presented at the CIPB Conference, December 2004) and found that the top five successful programs had the following characteristics:
- Intervention was at three program levels;
- Universal programs, targeting the entire school population,
- Indicated programs, focusing on students with initial involvement in bullying or victimization, and
- Selected programs, dealing with students having serious problems with bullying or victimization.
- Intervention addressed attitudes and behaviours targeting thoughts, attitudes, as well as interpersonal and emotional skills;
- Involved parents in the initiative; and
- Involved the larger community.
The results of this study suggest school interventions should target multiple levels, allowing for the whole school to become aware of bullying and how to effectively with those students most in need or at risk. Further, comprehensive initiatives also encourage the involvement of parents and other members of the community, such as police and mental health workers, in addressing the issue of bullying. This review indicates that initiatives involving the broader community may be the most effective approach.
3.0. Review of NCPC-sponsored projects
The second part of the present study consisted of a review of NCPC-sponsored projects that addressed school-based bullying. This component of the study aimed to identify promising practices and lessons learned from the practical application of anti-bullying initiatives within a school setting.
The projects discussed in this section are a sub-set of a larger number of projects dealing with school-based anti-violence (SBAV). To be eligible for inclusion in the study, projects had to have received funding before March 31, 2003. Potential SBAV projects were first identified using the administrative database used to track all projects funded by the NCPC. Use of the search terms bullying, aggression, violence, and antisocial yielded over 600 potential SBAV projects.
Once the work began, it became apparent that it would be impossible to review all the SBAV projects within the time and resources available. Therefore a subset of 62 school-based anti-bullying files was identified by analyzing the project descriptions contained in the administrative database and selecting those which focused in a major way on bullying, dealt with children or youth under 18 years of age, and either took place in a school or was connected directly to schools or school staff. Through a review of the list of anti-bullying projects by NCPC project officers, as well as through the "mining" of files, projects were added or taken out of the data set because they either did not meet the inclusion criteria, or that a file initially deemed to deal with the more general area of school-based anti-violence, was in fact an anti-bullying file. The final data set included 87 projects.
The source of data for the review was NCPC project files. These files generally included a funding application, a funding summary prepared by NCPC staff, and, when the project was completed, a final report. Correspondence, site visit reports, newspaper clippings, materials produced by the project, and evaluation reports were also included in the review when available.
A template was developed to record information regarding project history, objectives and results, tools/products/resources created, partnerships, and sustainability of the project after NCPC funding ended. The template called for coding of some responses according to pre-determined categories, and for recording narrative information drawn directly from the files. The completed template was stored as a Microsoft Access database, permitting both the quantitative and the qualitative information to be analyzed.
For more detail on the methodology of the file review, please see Appendix F.
The following section provides the project results from the NCPC project file review. The vast majority of the projects that were included in this study were funded under the Community Mobilization Program and were short-term community-based projects that were not expected to engage in the type of evaluation that would provide evidence of effectiveness. Instead, the results provided from these projects are primarily in terms of project objectives, types of activities, risk factors addressed, engagement of partners, what was learned and the challenges faced along the way. Projects funded under the Crime Prevention Investment Fund are designed as demonstration projects and include a rigorous evaluation; however, only two such projects are in the data set, and only one is completed. (Such projects tend to last from three to five years). This project is described in the Highlighted Projects section of this report.
3.2 a) Background project information
Number of projects
The 87 school-based anti-bullying projects included in the study received funding between June 1, 1998 and March 31, 2003. Of the 87 projects, 64 had final reports on file. Most of those without final reports were projects not yet completed by the cut-off date for the study.
Annual distribution of projects
Between fiscal years 1998-1999 and 2000-2001, NCPC funded 24 projects. However, most of the school-based anti-bullying projects (56) received funding from NCPC during the 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 fiscal years. This finding is consistent with an increased research, policy and programming interest in the late nineties, both nationally and internationally, on the issue of bullying (Pepler & Craig, 2000).
Project funding program Footnote 6
The majority of projects in the data set (78 of the 87 projects) were funded under the Community Mobilization Program (CMP), which provides grants of up to $50,000 to community organizations to develop strategies for crime prevention through social development. The remaining projects were funded under the Crime Prevention Investment Fund (CPIF), the Crime Prevention Partnership Program (CPPP), and the Business Action Program (BAP). These programs typically provide larger amounts of funding (up to $200,000 – $500,000 per year) over longer periods of time (up to 3-5 years) than CMP projects. They implemented demonstration projects designed to develop knowledge of what works (CPIF), produce tools, products and resources for the use of communities (CPPP) or involved the private sector in community based crime prevention through social development (BAP).
Regional distribution of projects
The majority of the 87 projects were funded in the Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic regions (in total 64 projects or 74%). The remaining projects were located in British Columbia (8 projects), the Prairie (8 projects), the North (3 projects) regions or were national projects (4 projects). This is not unexpected as the allocation of community-based funding under the Community Mobilization Program (CMP) is determined primarily by population size. Further, Quebec and the Atlantic regions have identified bullying as a priority area and this is reflected in CMP funding recommendations for these two regions.
Size and types of communities
The majority of anti-bullying projects were delivered in schools located in metropolitan areas or cities (38%) and schools in towns and small cities (35%), while 8% were delivered to schools in rural, isolated or remote locations. This reflects the general settlement patterns of the Canadian population as a whole (Statistics Canada, 2002). Eight projects (9%) took place across two or more schools located in the same school district or region. Six national projects (7%) sponsored under the Crime Prevention Partnership Program were funded primarily to create a tool, product or resource and did not include a community location. Six projects were delivered to Aboriginal student populations, three of which were situated in rural, isolated or remote schools and three took place in urban centres.
3.2 b) Project sponsors and partners
All NCPC projects are sponsored by one organization. The sponsor is the lead organization responsible for the project, maintains signing authority and assumes responsibility for all aspects of the project, including its liabilities. For NCPC anti-bullying projects, the majority of project sponsors (51%) were non-profit volunteer organizations or were from the education sector (16%). The Project Impact Study of the National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention, Phase II Footnote 7 (Department of Justice Canada, 2003) indicates these are typical of the types of organizations that sponsor crime prevention projects targeting children and youth.
In almost every case (94%), project sponsors reported that they had formed partnerships. Table 3 demonstrates the broad range of partners engaged by projects in the data set. The most frequent types of organizations with whom sponsors formed partnerships for anti-bullying projects were educational organizations (i.e. schools, school boards, post-secondary institutions and other educational groups such as parent or teacher associations); over three quarters (78%) of projects had partners within the education sector. The second most frequently mentioned sector was criminal justice and police (61%). The non-profit sector, which includes a variety of community service organizations, as well as human rights organizations, arts and cultural groups, and youth-serving agencies, was involved in half of the projects.
These results are consistent with the findings in the Project Impact Study of the National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention, Phase II (Department of Justice Canada, 2003) conducted in 2003, where the most common project partners for NCPC projects tackling various crime and victimization issues were non-governmental organizations (NGO), police and criminal justice agencies, educational organizations, social service agencies and municipal/regional government. The sixty-four projects with final reports provided information on how the project collaboration had affected their relationship with partnering organizations. Twenty-seven of 64 projects, or 42%, reported improved relationships among schools, community organizations, the criminal justice system and other organizations concerned with safety and crime prevention issues as a result of their partnerships. In 22 of the remaining cases, information was not available, while an additional 15 projects reported no change in the relationships with partnering organizations.
|Types of sponsoring organizations||Number of projects||Percentage of projects n=87|
|Non – profit volunteer organizations||44||51%|
|Educational institutions and associations Footnote *||14||16%|
|Crime prevention groups||11||13%|
|Coalitions/ Interagency networks||8||9%|
|Religious/ Faith organizations||1||1%|
|Local/ Municipal/ Regional government||1||1%|
|Type of partner||Number of projects||Percentage of projects Footnote **
n = 82 Footnote *
|Education (includes schools, school boards, post-secondary institutions and educational associations)||64||78%|
|Criminal justice/police services||50||61%|
|Non-profit voluntary organizations||41||50%|
|Health authorities (e.g. public health units, hospitals)||22||27%|
|Municipal/ regional governments (e.g. recreation departments, libraries)||15||18%|
|Social service departments||12||15%|
|Crime prevention groups||9||11%|
|Provincial/ territorial government departments||7||9%|
|Federal government departments||5||6%|
|Religious/ faith organizations||5||6%|
|Aboriginal governments and organizations||3||4%|
Types of contributions made by partners
Most partners (85%) provided in-kind support for the anti-bullying project, while just over a half provided financial contributions. 20% of the projects received networking support or mobilization of community organizations or partners to allow the project to move forward. These results are consistent with those found in the Partnership Study, National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention, Phase II Footnote 8 (JamiesonHartGraves Consulting, 2002) where partners of NCPC-sponsored projects were more likely to contribute in-kind support than financial or other assistance.
3.2 c) Project objectives
Table 4 provides an overview of the objectives for the projects in the data set. The majority of projects (77%) focused on educating or raising awareness of bullying as an issue among children, youth, school staff, parents, the community or a combination of these groups. When an issue such as bullying is new to a community, project sponsors begin with education and awareness initiatives. This focus on awareness is not surprising because bullying in Canadian communities became an issue of concern in the nineties, when these projects were first being proposed. One third of the projects (33%) indicated their objectives were to engage and mobilize community groups to take action, a necessary first step before coordinated action can be undertaken.
Over half of the projects (57%) sought to increase the knowledge required to understand the issue of bullying and its impact on all involved. Knowledge development may also include understanding the frequency and severity of the problem for various community members through the completion of a needs assessment. This objective indicates that communities were trying to understand bullying and how best to deal with it in their local context. Knowledge of an issue can provide the needed pressure for change but knowledge alone is not sufficient to bring about this change.
Some of the projects moved beyond awareness and knowledge building and into activities designed to directly reduce or prevent future occurrences of bullying. Projects that addressed social or life skills development (30), attitude (27) or behavioural change (30) were addressing the underlying reasons for bullying problems. Attitudes reinforce behaviours, so attitudes must be addressed in conjunction with behaviours (Hawkins, Herrenkohl, Farrington, Brewer, Catalano & Harachi, 1998). By attempting to change attitudes, social skills and bullying behaviours, communities were investing in longer-term solutions.
|Objective||Number of projects||Percentage of projects
n = 87Footnote *
|Community Capacity Building||31||36%|
|Life/Social Skills Development||30||34%|
|Participation/ Engaging/ Mobilization||29||33%|
|Relationship/ Partnership Development||25||29%|
|Enhanced Leadership Development||10||11%|
|Organizational Capacity Building||5||6%|
|Systemic Integration & Change||5||6%|
Progress on an issue sometimes requires background work to understand the local dynamics of the problem, to search for available solutions, and to locate or develop experienced program administrators. In many communities, work was required to develop their knowledge, create new partnerships and programs and to nurture community leadership. For example, program development (22) and community capacity building (31) were objectives for some of the NCPC-sponsored projects. The development work sometimes included creating new partnerships (25) or developing leadership (10) to tackle the complex issue of bullying in schools. Some projects aimed to stimulate organizational changes (5), systemic changes (5), and cultural development (3).
3.2 d) Risk and protective factors
Although it is widely accepted that the presence of multiple risk factors puts an individual at increased risk of bullying or victimization, experts have been unable to identify a specific profile that would predict such outcomes for individuals (Brewster & Railsback, 2001; Olweus, 1993; Smith, 2000; Wright, 2004). Given the lack of precision to accurately predict risk and the complex social and economic conditions that underlie this risk, a broader approach that reduces risk factors at a number of levels is more likely to succeed.
Researchers have not determined how many risk factors must be addressed to evoke notable change, but it is known that projects that target multiple risk factors are more effective than those dealing with only one (Scheckner et al., 2002; Shaw, 2001). Research shows that, in order for an anti-bullying intervention to be most successful, risk factors at the individual, family and friends, school, community and society levels should be addressed (Finnish Centre for Health Promotion, n.d.; Hawkins et al, 1998; NAAG, 2000; Pepler & Craig 2000; Shaw, 2001). It makes sense that what affects a child at home will affect a child at school or in the community. Alternatively, a community protective factor may have some protective benefit to a child in his or her school and home environments.
Difficulties arise when community-based projects are only able to tackle a limited number of the many risk factors involved (Ma, 2002; National Crime Prevention Centre, 2004). However, it is not always possible to address all risk factors in a practical setting. It is important that practitioners use the results of local needs assessments to commit resources efficiently and to have as broad an impact as possible, given practical limitations of time and money. The NCPC-sponsored anti-bullying projects addressed between one to 21 risk or protective factors, with each project addressing an average of five factors.
The risk and protective factors identified in NCPC-sponsored anti-bullying projects were grouped for further analysis according to the five levels of influence identified by academics as having an impact on bullying behaviour at school (Table 5). The levels of influence as discussed above are:
- Individual (e.g., early and persistent aggressive behaviour, attitudes toward life, society, school, friends and family);
- School (e.g., school attachment, normative beliefs about aggression);
- Family and friends (e.g., home environment, peer influences/reactions);
- Community (e.g., social support networks/resources, neighbourhood interaction/attachment); and
- Societal (e.g., societal values concerning ethnicity, gender, etc., social norms).
The majority of the projects (73%) addressed risk factors found at two or three levels of influence with the largest concentration being given to risk factors at the individual, school, and community levels. Risk factors at the family and friends and societal levels were less frequently a focus (31% and 23% respectively).
|Levels||Number of projects||Percentage of projectsFootnote *
n = 87
|Individual Skills & Characteristics||80||92%|
|Community Related Factors||57||66%|
|School Related Factors||53||61%|
|Family & Friends||27||31%|
|Society Related Factors||20||23%|
3.2 e) Project participants
Table 6 shows the breakdown of groups of project participants, including children and youth, community members and partners, teachers and school staff, and parents.
Academic research indicates that anti-bullying initiatives are more successful if they involve the school and community rather than focusing exclusively on the children and youth directly affected by bullying. 98% of the bullying projects in this sample involved children and youth as participants. Children and youth were the only participants in 17% of these initiatives. The majority of projects (83%) included one other group of participants, such as teachers, school staff, community members or parents.
|Participants||Number of projects||Percentage of projects
n = 87Footnote *
|Children and youth||85||98%|
|Community members and partners||45||52%|
|Teachers and school staff||43||49%|
Number of participants
The majority of projects (69%) involved more than 300 participants. Projects had large numbers of participants because the most frequent types of activities were workshops and presentations, which were usually delivered at school assemblies or to a series of classes. Most projects created universal programs for all students, although a few were designed as indicated or selected programs (see section 3.2(g) Successful activities reported by projects and section 5.2 Phase 1: Development and planning of the LOVE Peer Mediation Program).
Specific child and youth groups
Experts have identified the need to tailor interventions to address bullying against groups at increased risk for victimization. These groups include members of ethnocultural minority groups, members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) community and persons with disabilities. While projects in the data set did not address all of these issues, certain projects focused on ethnocultural groups (4) and children and youth with learning disabilities (2).
The data did not allow for an assessment of the degree to which NCPC-sponsored projects were meeting the specific (and differing) needs of boys and girls. Similarly, an in-depth assessment of the sensitivity of projects to the needs of children and youth with disabilities and from minority cultural groups or differing sexual orientations was not possible due to the absence of data. These four areas are identified as gaps in bullying research and would benefit from future research and project investment.
Participation of children and youth in program development and delivery
Research demonstrates that student involvement in the development and delivery of programming increases the likelihood of project success (Pepler & Craig, 2000). In the NCPC data set, there was no evidence of involvement of children or youth in the development or delivery of anti-bullying programs designed for their use in 67% of the projects. Where participation is indicated, the most common form of involvement (21%) of children or youth was in program delivery. Only a small percentage of projects (6%) indicated they went beyond involvement of youth in program delivery to allow for control or decision-making throughout all phases of the intervention.
3.2 f) Project activities
Most projects (78%) used more than one activity to achieve their objectives. Over half of the projects (58%) provided workshops, presentations or classes for children and youth and half (50%) created an anti-bullying product, tool or resource (Table 7). 33% of the projects provided training for teachers, school staff and others who work with children and youth to help them respond more effectively to bullying in schools. Some projects (13%) further focused on teachers by developing materials that incorporated bullying discussions into core curricula.
Some activities were part of the planning stage of an intervention including: conducting literature reviews (27%) or needs assessments (20%) and building partnerships/networks/community coalitions (17%). 17% of projects included awareness campaigns such as media, poster or essay contests, while others brought groups together to discuss the problem at a conference/symposium or in meetings (14%). Eight projects (13%) developed or modified curricula. A small number of projects provided activities to support parents (9%) or involve them more in the school (6%). The remaining projects developed behaviour and discipline codes, personal skills or recreational activities, technical training for children and youth, peer mediation, mentorship or youth support programs.
3.2 g) Successful activities reported by projects
The anti-bullying projects funded by the NCPC are diverse in approach, activities and outcomes. They range from projects implemented at the national level, designed to produce tools and resources that can be applied across the country, to projects that delivered an intervention in one school. Some projects in the data set involved several schools or community partners, including institutional directors (e.g. school board, public health department). While most of these projects did not include a formal evaluation component, the following section summarizes what projects indicated were the successful elements of the most common approaches identified in Table 7.
|Participants||Number of projects||Percentage of projectsFootnote *
n = 64Footnote **
|Provide workshops, presentations or classes for children or youth||37||58%|
|Create a product, tool or resource||32||50%|
|Provide training to teachers, school staff and others who work with children and youth||21||33%|
|Conduct a literature review or other research or evaluation activities||17||27%|
|Conduct a needs assessment||13||20%|
|Organize an awareness campaign||11||17%|
|Build partnerships/ networks/ community coalitions||11||17%|
|Organize a conference/symposium||10||16%|
|Organize meetings/ consultations||9||14%|
|Develop or modify curriculum||8||13%|
|Provide support or assistance to parents||6||9%|
|Provide skill building, social and recreational activities for children/ youth||6||9%|
|Provide a mentorship program||4||6%|
|Involve parents in the school||4||6%|
|Develop policies and procedures regarding standards of behaviour and discipline||2||3%|
|Provide technical training for children or youth||2||3%|
|Provide peer mediation or peer support to youth||1||2%|
Workshops, presentations and classes
Workshops and presentations, the most common activities used by NCPC-sponsored projects, were used primarily to increase awareness of bullying among students (Table 7). Most of the presentations took place in schools and were usually time limited, lasting from one to 12 weeks. A few projects offered presentations to parents and community members.
When outside facilitators went into schools, they delivered the presentations either to an assembly of students or to a classroom of 25 or 30 students. These facilitators delivered one or more sessions, depending on the purpose of the project. In projects where the intent was to go beyond increased awareness to teaching prosocial skills, the students received multiple sessions.
Outside facilitators were usually from non-governmental organizations or local police forces. However, some projects involved community members. For example, the New Brunswick Block Parents Association, in their project, Safe Communities for Safe Kids, recruited community volunteers to deliver presentations in classrooms.
Project sponsors generally reported that students became more aware of the issues, and knew more about the community resources that were available to help them, than they did before the intervention. Some projects provided vivid descriptions of what such "increased awareness" looked like. The Beat the Bully project in Newfoundland held monthly presentations and discussion sessions for students in grades 5 through 12 in one school. The sponsor reported that:
"Two issues identified by the youth were surprising: awareness of the mental/emotional damage that results from bullying and the fact that youth can defend themselves and others. During our session on labelling, gossip, and suicide, many of the youth did not realize the effect they were having on other youth. During a presentation from a former victim, the youth were astonished to see that 20 years after the fact, the problem of bullying, labelling and gossip still affected the presenter and played a large role in his life. … In a demonstration showing that seven youth were bullied and only two were doing the bullying, the victims viewed their side as the most powerful and saw their ability to stop it."
Another project sponsored by the Halton Rape Crisis Centre offered a one-hour program called A Matter of Respect to grade 7 and 8 students, with the objective of raising awareness about violence, teaching rights and responsibilities and respect for self and others. The project reported,
"We were pleased that our approach to the issue of harassment and bullying in the context of human rights was received so well. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms lends tremendous credibility to our approach and has a powerful impact on students."
In identifying what worked well, the project noted the success of the interactive portions of the presentations, where students asked questions and discussed the issues.
A Quebec project, Taxage: prévention et résolution, found similar results, noting that the participatory approach adopted by the facilitators was appreciated by students. Similar comments were made by the sponsor of the Anger Management Strategy for Children and Youth project in Chatham, Ontario.
Another project from Quebec, entitled Ateliers de prevention contre la violence et la toxicomanie, held sessions in schools which lasted 45 minutes (one class period) and used role playing, audio-visual aids and discussions to increase student awareness of violence and conflict resolution. One of the messages in this project was that words can be just as harmful as actions. The final report indicated that students learned the potential impact of peer influences on behaviour.
The Life Skills: Applied Problem Solving in the Classroom project implemented a 12-week program covering such topics as listening skills, assertiveness training, conflict management and decision making with grade five students in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Teacher surveys at the end of the project reported that students' communication skills increased by 25%, while their listening skills improved by 20%. It was also reported that students used these new skills on the playgrounds, in the gym, and in the classroom, and that shy and reserved students felt more comfortable speaking out in class.
Products, tools and resources (videos, games, and books)
Half of the projects (32) in our data set produced a product, tool or resource. The Together We Light The Way project in Ontario produced several products, including an extensive set of curriculum materials, audio-visual aids, and training materials. Furthermore, the programs were documented in manuals, brochures, and videos. This project is highlighted in the Promising Practices and Highlighted Projects document in this series.
Several projects produced tools to assist facilitators and presenters in raising student awareness of bullying and exploring solutions. A Quebec project, for example, produced a board game called Guets-Apens, targeted at students aged 9-14 years. To test its effectiveness, the game was played by several hundred primary school students and pre- and post-tests were administered. The final report indicated that students learned how to assert themselves and "say no" to bullies and how to tell someone if they were having troubles in their lives.
In several cases, the process of producing the resource was just as important as the end product. The major focus of Le Taxage, moi, je le dénonce was to produce a "photo-roman," or type of comic book, about bullying. Youth from the St. Henri neighbourhood in Montreal learned about the issue from guest speakers such as police and social workers, and from a tour of youth court. They had instruction in photography and scriptwriting in order to produce the book. The project elicited a great deal of enthusiasm among the participating youth who learned that bullying is wrong and should be reported to an adult.
Similarly, the Prévention au sujet de l'intimidation et de la victimisation project, that centred around the development of an anti-bullying video, noted that the youth who participated learned a great deal, including:
- useful information on the issues of bullying and intimidation,
- ways to attain personal goals,
- how to work toward a specific goal,
- technical training on how to make a video, and
- instruction on theatre and acting.
The sponsor reported that the youth developed a higher level of maturity and confidence as a result of participating in the project, and attained skills that would equip them to deal with the dynamics of bullying.
Finally, Implic'Taxons, a project that had youth input and participation in the production of a video, concluded that youth participation in the program delivery was truly the heart of the project. Throughout the process, youth contributed their own personal touches and modifications, ensuring that the video would have the desired impact on the student audience.
Use of theatre
Thirteen projects used theatre as a means of increasing awareness about bullying. Generally, projects reported that the use of this medium was very effective in engaging the attention of youth, providing relevant content and reaching people at an emotional level in order to engage them in reflection. In addition, when children and youth themselves were the actors, sponsors reported that participants benefited by learning new skills or changing their attitudes towards themselves or towards the issue of bullying. In most cases, the plays were accompanied by an opportunity for discussion. Resource materials such as study guides were often provided to teachers to continue the discussion after the performance.
The Manitoba Theatre for Young People, a professional theatre company, created and performed two productions about bullying (Seesaw for children of elementary school age and Rocks for adolescents) in small communities in northern Manitoba. The sponsor reported, "the effect is immediate and visceral." Teachers reported that after using the study guides in postperformance activities, students began to express concern for, and consider the consequences of, their actions towards others.
In other cases students were involved in creating their own productions. For example, in the Canmore School and Community Initiative for Appreciating Diversity and Building Tolerance project in Canmore, Alberta, the involvement of the children and youth in developing the scripts helped to ensure the material was age-appropriate:
- Grade 2 students created a presentation about issues such as the playground bully, name calling, being excluded, and being the new kid;
- Grade 8 drama classes focused on spreading rumours, "taking other people's stuff ", and being singled out on the basis of being different; and
- Grades 10, 11, and 12 students' production, called Deemed to Be Different, identified issues of people being isolated, driven to their breaking point, lashing out, and how communities could choose to respond.
In the Reena Project, from British Columbia, a group of youth worked with theatre professionals to create a play called Outcasts and Angels, which dealt with bullying, racism, violence and discrimination. The play was innovative in that it transported the audience in a bus to various locations where the scenes of the play unfolded. According to the sponsor, this made audience members feel that they were part of the scene, leading to increased acceptance of the play's messages.
Mixed Company, a theatre company based in Toronto, worked with youth to develop a script demonstrating various scenarios of school-based anti-violence. These scripts were performed in front of audiences of children and youth, who were then invited to become part of the action and contribute solutions to the problems acted out in the play. Showdown, as this piece of forum theatre was called, was very popular with students who saw their friends on stage and become involved in the finding solutions to the dilemmas presented. As the final report indicated, "empathy is a built-in by-product once you have literally stood in someone else's place."
Another project called PSYCH - A Student Play about the Root Causes of Youth Violence from Guelph, Ontario, received a similar review:
"The play was especially powerful in developing empathy for the effects of bullying on the victim. Student responses reflected an increased awareness of the bystanders to intervene on behalf of the victim."
Ten projects organized conferences on bullying for students, teachers or both. Organizations that sponsored conferences indicated an increased awareness of bullying and bullying interventions by conference participants.
In some cases, the outcomes described went beyond increased awareness to community action as was reported by the Canmore School and Community Initiative for Appreciating Diversity and Building Tolerance project in Canmore, Alberta. This conference brought together twenty influential members of the community, including school administrators, RCMP officers, social service administrators, and other community members. The sponsor reported:
"As a result of the information night and conference, 12 people have indicated a willingness to sit on the WE Initiative Steering Committee. This Committee will meet at least monthly to ensure that issues pertaining to tolerance and appreciating diversity maintain a high profile in Canmore."
Similarly, the sponsor of the Prevention of Bullying: A Community Responsibility - Conference project in the Yukon reported:
"The conference received a lot of media coverage. Also, the inspiring speakers identified the need for community involvement. This has led members of the public to come forward and get involved in action planning committees."
Implementation of an anti-bullying curriculum
Eight projects took steps to incorporate information on bullying into the regular school curriculum (the Put the Brakes on Bullying project is described in a later section under Comprehensive Community Approaches). In the first phase, the Safe Schools project in the Eastern School District in PEI, conducted research into bullying and anti-bullying programs, and mobilized community partners to chart a strategy. In the second phase, two curricula, Focus on Bullying and Bullyproofing your School, were pilot tested in 85 classrooms. A train-the-trainer approach was used to train teachers. The sponsor reported that:
"In feedback sessions, teachers have noted a variety of changes: in students' language, in their ability to differentiate between reporting and tattling, in their helpfulness toward other children in difficult situations, in their general feelings of safety, and in observations of reduced incidence of bullying in some schools."
Skill building - projects focusing on children or youth at risk
Two projects in the data set addressed the issue of bullying through focusing on the broader issues of aggressive behaviours and school climate. One project in Alberta and one in Ontario, designed selected programs for groups of youth exhibiting challenging and aggressive behaviours. The North Central Corridor Initiative in Calgary involved a large number of community agencies to: address the integration of services for these students; provide consultations with teachers on how to work with students with behavioural and psychiatric disorders; provide social skills training and recreational activities for the children; and support for their parents. Positive evaluation results were reported, including a reduction in aggressive behaviour by the children, and lower stress levels by the parents. Teachers also reported that the children behaved better in class.
The John Howard Society of Windsor-Essex County developed a small five-session group counselling module for children in grades 6 and 7 exhibiting aggressive or violent behaviour, including bullying. Teachers were trained to deliver the sessions and were, in some cases, assisted by a student peer mentor. The project sponsor reported a reduction in aggressive behaviours and a general improvement in the school's climate.
Three projects in the sample developed a mentoring program. Two projects are highlighted here. In the first project, the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Ingersoll, Tillsonburg & Area matched 37 students with mature, responsible adults from the wider community. Local employer support was sought to increase employee involvement. This had additional benefits as employers have become partners in other school activities. According to the sponsor, "many businesses and industries see our relationship with the schools as a 'good fit' for them. They are proud to be a partner for the betterment of youth." The final report noted that the participants learned to handle difficult situations, developed scripts for appropriate behaviour, and increased their self-confidence.
A second mentoring project in Woodstock, Ontario trained high school students to mentor younger children. The project indicated positive effects on all participants, including the community. For example, the high school students who served as mentors saw the significant impact they could have on younger children. As a result, the sponsor felt that the mentors would be more likely to volunteer in their community as adults. In addition, the children learned new social skills and changed their attitudes towards violence, the community benefited through heightened awareness of the underlying risk factors, and the adults' attitudes towards youth, particularly youth in groups, became more positive.
Comprehensive community approaches
Thirteen projects took a comprehensive community approach to their intervention. In this approach, the project sponsors provide a combination of activities directed at students, school staff, parents, and community members or service providers to reach their objectives. As noted, projects that involve multiple stakeholders and address risk factors at a variety of levels are more likely to succeed than those with a more singular focus. It is important to recognize, however, that it is more difficult to identify the impact of individual components in multi-faceted projects due to their complexity, making it harder to assess which components of the project were effective.
The Friends and Neighbours Club and the Gummy Bear Gang project in Ontario adopted a broad approach to bullying, creating a cross-sectoral advisory group, developing an information video and providing training for children on the prevention of aggressive behaviour and bullying. The project also provided presentations and resources to adults in the community, including teachers, on how to handle bullying and support children and youth affected by it. The final report stated that the project succeeded in developing a common language and understanding about bullying, leading to a consistent response to incidents within the community.
Put the Brakes on Bullying in York Region, Ontario was funded for two years by the NCPC. In the first phase of the project, a needs assessment was conducted, which revealed the requirement for students, teachers, parents and the entire community to be involved in reducing the incidence of bullying. A curriculum resource was developed, providing a series of lesson plans for each age group from Kindergarten through Grade eight. A video, resource guide and discussion questions were also created and disseminated. In the second phase, training was provided to school staff and others who worked with youth in the community (e.g. summer camp personnel, recreation staff, and childcare providers) on how to use the resources. Presentations were also delivered to students. Student leaders were brought together to contribute their ideas on how to address bullying, develop action plans, and receive feedback. The sponsor reported that the work with the students resulted in the establishment and support of various antibullying initiatives both at the school and classroom levels. The final report indicated students were also beginning to better understand and support the idea of safe schools, non-aggressive environments and student problem-solving.
The Bully Prevention Program sponsored by the Community Resource Centre of Goulbourn, Kanata & West Carleton in Ontario included curriculum materials, training for community agency staff, the creation of school committees, presentations at student assemblies and collaboration with the school staff to develop ways of dealing with bullying. The training helped teachers identify potential areas of the school where children were likely to be victimized. They developed prevention strategies for improved supervision, structured yard programs, organized play areas and supplementary supports such as conflict mediation, recess buddies, and welcome ambassadors. The project identified the value of having a common language and set of skills so that the community as a whole was able to respond to the issue of bullying. The final report also indicated that in one school, where authorities did not believe there to be a problem with bullying, the intervention uncovered a problem and made a noticeable impact.
The Bullying- It's Hurtful project in London, Ontario conducted a literature review to identify promising practices in school and community-based bullying prevention and intervention programs. The sponsor devised a strategy to increase student awareness and develop youth leadership. An annual conference was held for students in Grades 7 and 8 (with students involved in the planning), followed by the distribution of resource materials to schools. Committees of students were formed in schools and were supported as they developed violence prevention initiatives. The students themselves delivered anti-bullying presentations to staff, parents and peers. The project reported that many unique initiatives were implemented by the students including assemblies, a Violence Awareness week, having bullying as a topic in a reading buddies program, and weekly announcements at school. Having youth leaders work closely with community professionals, including police, led to increased understanding of the roles of each in solving bullying problems. In particular, the sponsor noted that "students have a better understanding that any response to bullying requires a community effort often involving the police".
In the Gaspé region of Quebec, a project entitled Violence, taxage, c'est fini, conducted a needs assessment among children between 10 and 14 years of age. The project reported that the needs assessment process itself led to the development of awareness and the mobilization of students and school personnel around the issue. During the second phase of the project, the needs assessment was distributed and information sessions with parents, youth, teachers and school staff were held. Students were provided with a list of community agencies that could help them, while parents received an information guide on how to recognize bullying and how to intervene. The sponsor reported that the students learned the importance of reporting bullying incidents, and also that reporting is not tattling, because it eventually helps both the bully and the victim. School records revealed that bullying had decreased by 97% in five sample schools. Parents reported that they felt better equipped to intervene if their children were victims or bullies and requested more supervision in the schoolyards and on buses. The final report indicated that the schools developed new policies for responding to bullying complaints.
Finally, the Together We Light the Way project sponsored by the Durham District School Board in Ontario is an example of a much larger project that uses a broad, community-based approach to prevention. It was funded for three years under the Crime Prevention Investment Fund (see section 5.3 Together We Light The Way).
3.2 h) Sustainability
The 64 projects containing final reports were analyzed for evidence of sustainability beyond the termination of NCPC funding. Fifty-nine project reports provided information on sustainability and planning for next steps. 56% of the projects indicated an intention to continue with some aspect of the project (e.g., next phase, further use of a tool). Some projects identified strategies for sustaining their project:
- Sharing information from their project with other groups (22%);
- Implementing a new pilot project related to the work already completed (17%);
- Fostering relationships with organizations interested in safety and crime prevention issues (14%); and
- Using products, tools or resources they developed to improve on existing methods of dealing with bullying (10%).
3.2 i) Lessons learned
The final reports of some projects revealed challenges, or lessons learned, involved in creating and implementing successful bullying programs.
Need for planning
The most frequently mentioned theme was the need to plan, including being realistic about what can be accomplished and matching expectations to the resources available, both in terms of time and money. Organizational difficulties in dividing up work among project personnel also fit within this category.
Working with the school
Almost all the projects in the sample were delivered in schools and many were delivered by outside groups that came into the school to deliver the programs. There were a large number of comments related to the challenges this presents in implementing anti-bullying programs. These include the difficulty for teachers to find time to implement curricula (taking into account their provincial curriculum demands), conflicting demands on student time as well as the constraints imposed by the length of school periods. Also, there were some challenges posed by the particular milestones of the school year (e.g., exams, end of semester).
Challenges in working with parents
Several projects noted difficulties in involving or engaging parents. Challenges to parent involvement included:
- The fact that some parents were unable to read, which further separated them from the schools
- Low income, lack of transportation
- Difficulty accommodating parents' schedules
- Possible lack of interest by parents.
Need to cope with the unexpected
Sometimes, there were external events (for example, a teachers' strike, September 11, or school staff turnover or illness) that affected a project's ability to implement their initiative as planned. Other unexpected events included a collapse of a partnership and a failure to obtain the other funding required to start the project. The project's success was also mentioned as a challenge for planning and organizing purposes.
Difficult subject matter
One project in particular reported that the subject of bullying may have been a little "too close to home" for some of the participants. While the project report did not spell out why this was so, it could perhaps be due to the fact that the project used theatre to communicate the message that bullying is everyone's business. Young people developed the script and played the role of bullies, victims, other youth, parents, and so on, with a reportedly powerful emotional impact. Other projects acknowledged that bullying was a complex topic and that change, particularly in attitudes, behaviours, and skills, could be achieved neither easily nor quickly.
Need to adapt materials and methods to the needs of the participants
The need to adapt programs to suit the particular participants was noted by several projects. Areas in need of adaptation included: programs aimed at high-risk children and children of different age groups and more programs that can adapt according to the language and culture of the participants.
Evaluation and research issues
A few projects expressed concerns related to research and evaluation. These included difficulty in finding instruments which can adequately capture change; a low response rate for the evaluation; and the need to adapt evaluation tools to the participants'stage of development.
The one project that reported challenges related to partnerships commented that the challenge was in identifying and assembling individuals and groups who had developed different approaches to address bullying.
The review of academic research identified promising practices that for the most part provided process or how-to guidelines for school-based interventions. These guidelines called for:
- Development of a whole school policy:
- Conducting a school needs assessment,
- Developing a policy in consultation with key stakeholders,
- Implementing the policy in the school, and
- Evaluating the policy.
- Development of whole school initiatives in support of the policy:
- Planning the initiative,
- Involving multiple stakeholders,
- Including students in program development and delivery,
- Addressing multiple risk and protective factors: intervention works on several levels to simultaneously impact multiple risk factors,
- Providing age appropriate materials, discussions and time limits,
- Creating a gender-specific approach,
- Intervening when target behaviour is just emerging, and
- Creating long-term interventions.
- Development of more comprehensive approaches to bullying:
- Comprehensive approaches, in which a whole school approach is enhanced through collaboration with the larger community, can increase the overall impact of anti-bullying interventions.
- Whole school interventions should include programs at multiple levels (universal, indicated and selected) to provide the appropriate amount of assistance for all students.
- Comprehensive initiatives go one step further than whole school interventions by including participation of parents, community leaders, police, sports and recreational organizations and other groups in bullying prevention.
The literature also identified gaps in approaches for whole school interventions including:
- Age-specific approaches, especially initiatives for teenagers;
- Gender-specific approaches;
- Bullying based on sexual orientation;
- Ethno-cultural bullying and ethno-culturally sensitive interventions; and
- Bullying of children with learning disabilities and interventions.
When reviewing the projects sponsored by the NCPC, this study found that most projects had multi-sectoral partnerships, addressed large groups of students or the whole school, rather than just the ones involved directly in bullying incidents (universal program), and attempted to address several risk factors at more than one level. A few projects provided selected or indicated programs for students experiencing greater difficulties with bullying behaviours or being victimized. There was recognition of the broader influence played by the school, family, community and society such that none of the projects intervened only at one level of influence. In addition to intervening with students, the interventions targeted teachers, school staff, parents, and community members. Some of the projects included children and youth in the planning, development and delivery of interventions.
Based on the results of the NCPC project study and the promising practices identified in academic sources, the following recommendations are made for future work in the area of school-based bullying prevention:
- That school-based bullying prevention initiatives include the following in their approach:
- develop a whole school policy;
- involve community representatives and organizations as much as possible in their approach; and
- develop whole school interventions in support of the policy with programs at three levels:
- universal programs targeting the entire school population
- indicated programs focusing on students with initiative involvement in bullying or victimization
- selected programs dealing with students having chronic problems with bullying or victimization.
- That school-based bullying prevention projects follow sound project planning and management procedures by including the following steps:
- needs assessment
- project planning
- development of an evaluation framework
- periodic monitoring of intervention
- sustainability planning and follow-up
- That knowledge gained from whole school and comprehensive approaches be adapted for application in practical settings and that researchers and practitioners collaborate to develop practical resources for use by schools and communities.
- That more research be undertaken on how bullying is manifested differently for boys and girls at each age and how best to address these differences in practical applications.
- That research and interventions address a child's relationship with peers, teachers, family and the broader community as they can influence bullying behaviour or victimization (a systemic approach).
- That students participate in the planning, development and delivery of anti-bullying policies and programs to ensure the activities address the most urgent issues they are facing.
- That tailored initiatives be developed to address the unique needs of the community which can vary according to geographic location (rural versus urban) and community make-up (e.g., ethnocultural groups, persons with disabilities, members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community).
- That effective whole school approaches be developed for secondary schools where bullying can turn into dating violence and sexual harassment.
- That more public education tools for children, youth, parents and teachers be developed to provide practical advice on how to deal with bullying incidents they become chronic.
5.0. Highlighted NCPC-sponsored projects
The NCPC file review of the 87 anti-bullying projects, while primarily analyzing themes across the data set as a whole, identified several projects that put into practice some of the promising practices identified in the research. The projects described in this section embody one or more of the following promising practices:
- Used a comprehensive community based approach;
- Utilized a sound project planning model;
- Allowed for participation of children or youth in the planning, management or delivery of the initiative;
- Provided good evidence for the reported results;
- Produced an anti-bullying product for use elsewhere;
- Showed evidence of sustainability after critical funding was terminated;
- Adapted an existing model of an anti-bullying intervention for their community; and
- Addressed the particular needs of culturally distinct groups.
Four projects are summarized below:
- Crime Prevention Program - Dilico Ojibway Child and Family Services
- Leave Out ViolencE (LOVE) Peer Mediation Program
- Together We Light the Way - Durham District School Board
- Creating Amicable Relationships in Newfoundland Groups (CARING) Schools Project: Avalon West School District
In addition, a province-wide approach that emphasizes sound project planning and a multi-year funding approach is highlighted:
- Quebec Joint Strategy on Bullying
5.1. Crime prevention program
Dilico Ojibway Child and Family Services
This project received Community Mobilization Program (CMP) funding in the 2000/01 fiscal year. It focused primarily on Aboriginal children and youth in grades four to six living in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The project was sponsored by Dilico Ojibway Child and Family Services, a multi-service agency governed by representatives from First Nations communities. This agency integrates a wide range of child welfare, treatment and health services to meet local needs.
Dilico Ojibway Child and Family Services is part of the Aboriginal NGO sector and some of the success of this project was attributed to the numerous partnerships developed by Dilico Child and Family Services. Their partners included:
- Urban Multi-Cultural Aboriginal Youth Centre;
- Community Coalition Unified for the Protection of Our Children and Youth;
- Thunder Bay Violence Action Committee;
- Community Policing Officers, Gang Unit;
- Agnew H. Johnson School;
- Confederation College;
- Ogden Community School; and
- Harbour Youth Services.
Project staff worked with schools in the Thunder Bay area to integrate material addressing issues of crime prevention, bullying and victim empathy into school curricula. An inclass bullying program was developed and delivered in the schools by First Nations staff. It consisted of four 40-minute sessions on topics including bullying, empathy, and assertiveness. The program was designed to be relevant to Aboriginal students, while remaining appropriate for a general audience. For example, the stories told in the presentations included Aboriginal names and sometimes referred to local reserves. Prejudice and discrimination were framed within a bullying context, with classroom discussions exploring the feelings of both bullies and victims. Other teachers attended the sessions so they could continue teaching the messages at the conclusion of the program. Afterwards, project workers met with the teachers to answer their questions and to provide additional resources that would help extend the intervention beyond the four sessions.
Students were given a colouring book and a workbook to take home at the end of their in-class sessions. The colouring book depicted Aboriginal children dealing with the issue of bullying. The crime prevention workbook was designed to help students make healthy behavioural choices and to decrease the risk factors in their lives.
In addition to the sessions provided for students, workshops were held for parents and other interested parties for the purpose of identifying and meeting the needs of at-risk Aboriginal youth. Dr. Debra Pepler, an expert on bullying, provided the community workshop entitled, "Understanding and Addressing the Problems of Bullying." Parents, teachers and other professionals involved with children and youth attended this workshop.Upon conclusion of CMP funding, Dilico Ojibway Child and Family Services adopted the program as part of its mandate. It is now included in the responsibilities of the agency's education liaison worker. Offering the bullying sessions further contributes to her prevention work in the schools, and provides an opportunity to build relationships with teachers that carries over into other activities. The results appear positive, as the liaison worker has reported a high demand for the program.
The final report of the project stated:
"The project has allowed for some very significant collaborative opportunities. Our agency has become more visible in the school community, issues of discrimination towards First Nations peoples has been [addressed] in the school community because of the project theme and the fact that First Nations staff are delivering the program. Our program staff remains committed to their memberships [with] various associations and committees and is currently involved in the development of lawful protocols for children under 12. The issues of bullying are now being brought to the forefront and school officials are making a commitment to safer schools with the new Safe Schools Act."
5.2. Phase 1: Development & planning of the LOVE Peer Mediation Program
Leave Out ViolencE (LOVE)
Phase 1 of the LOVE Peer Mediation Program, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia was funded by the Community Mobilization Program during the fiscal year 2002/03. It focused on children and youth in grades one through nine at two inner-city schools: St. Patrick's-Alexandra School and Joseph Howe School. LOVE is a national not-for-profit organization committed to reducing violence in the lives of youth. This project was sponsored by its Halifax chapter.
The project's objective was to prevent school violence and bullying by mobilizing children, youth, teachers and administrators to address the root causes of violence in their school. The program provided training in leadership, conflict resolution and mediation which served to teach students to be more accountable for their actions and seek ways of promoting peace.
The sponsoring organization undertook a year-long consultation and development process. They met with teachers, school administrators, and students to assess mediation needs, discuss successes and challenges of prior peer mediation programs, raise school confidence in peer mediation as an effective means of addressing school violence, and plan the peer mediation program for each school.
LOVE's project staff believed that engaging youth in finding solutions to their problems would be empowering, would increase their self-esteem and would ensure that the program, including its delivery, would meet the needs of youth. Furthermore, by encouraging youth to invest and engage in the program, the chances of sustaining the initiative beyond the original intervention were expected to increase.
Implementing this philosophy meant that youth (as well as teachers and other members of the school community) were encouraged to participate in shaping the peer mediation program over the development year. Many groups of children and youth were included in the consultations (i.e., those who participated at school and those not usually involved in school activities). Peer mediators were recruited from a variety of groups including students who had bullied, been victimized, and witnessed bullying incidents. A "permanent pride" exhibit was created to advertise the peer mediation project and build commitment to a safe school. Potential peer mediators were consulted so that their ideas could be incorporated in the training design, ensuring that it would meet their needs. Existing LOVE Youth Leaders assisted with the delivery of the peer mediation training.
This project provides an excellent example of youth involvement in the development and adaptation of the intervention to meet their needs. This principle permeates all LOVE's work, where youth who have experienced violence determine the direction of specific programs, are represented on the Board of Directors, become Youth Leaders, deliver community presentations, and volunteer to deliver program components including writing classes and photography lessons. In addition, youth are encouraged to act as spokespersons for the project during media interviews.
From the start, the project was conceived as having three phases: planning and development; implementation and evaluation; and documentation and sharing. As a result of the successful planning and development phase, there are now 23 trained LOVE peer mediators at St. Patrick's-Alexandra and 25 mediators at Joseph Howe. The second phase, implementation of the program, has begun. Upon completion of the third phase, a self-sustaining peer mediation program will be established in both schools.
5.3. Together We Light the Way
Durham District School Board
Together We Light the Way (TWLTW) was a comprehensive school-based early intervention model, which aimed to create safe and caring learning communities by bringing together municipal officials, business leaders, and members of community groups to work in partnership with the school staff, students, and parents. The model drew on the resources of the entire community to help children and youth reduce their antisocial behaviours, build resiliency and help them learn more effectively. The Together We Light the Way project aimed to increase eight main protective factors including: school success; academic achievement; sense of self; safe, secure and nurturing environments; healthful lifestyle; positive family and school relationships; respectful and caring relationships; and connection to caring adults. This project, sponsored by the Durham District School Board in Whitby, Ontario was funded through the Crime Prevention Investment Fund (CPIF) from 1999 through 2002. The funding was provided to test the model in four Ontario pilot schools, in three school boards, urban and rural.
TWLTW targeted children and youth aged four to fourteen. The program identified five objectives for students:
- develop respect for themselves and others;
- become motivated to obtain high levels of academic achievement;
- interact and play cooperatively with their peers;
- understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle; and
- interact respectfully with members of the community.
Together We Light the Way consisted of seven programs:
- Respect: focuses on developing a sense of self (character) and respectful and caring relationships for others in the classroom, school, family, local, and global community. It stresses that respectful interactions with peers and adults lead to respectful approaches to problem solving, conflict resolution and decision making. This program has been shown to decrease bullying and other violent behaviours.
- Leading with Reading: encourages a love of books and reading;
- The Choice Is Yours: teaches students the knowledge and skills needed to make wise choices, and demonstrates that the positive choices you make have a positive impact on your life;
- Celebrating Our Stars: engages the community in recognizing and honouring students for their accomplishments and inspires them to strive for high academic achievement, while also developing an ethic of service as they build teamwork and leadership skills;
- Healthful Happenings: teaches students the importance of eating nutritious foods and choosing healthy living. It explains the relationship of healthful choices to their learning and well being;
- Parenting Voices: facilitates meaningful parental involvement in the school and in the education of their children; and
- Connections - Classroom and Community: This program connects classroom learning to employability skills. Students learn how what they are learning in the classroom is relevant outside school.
The project provided training for principals, teachers, and other members of the school community on how to implement these programs throughout the school curriculum. An extensive set of curriculum materials, audio-visual aids, and training materials were produced. The school staff was also encouraged to develop new policies and procedures that reflect the principles and values of the seven programs. Other adults were also asked to participate in the program. Community members, such as police officers, business leaders and municipal officials were brought into schools (e.g. to read to younger children). Support was also provided for parents to get more involved in the school.
TWLTW was thoroughly evaluated by participants and stakeholders over the course of the project implementation. One of the expected outcomes of the project was an increase in non- violent responses to antagonism, defined as a reduction in the number of incidents of fighting and bullying and a decrease in student suspensions. It revealed great success in the area of bullying prevention. Over the three years of the project, there was a decrease of more than 60% in the number of bullying incidents in three of the four schools. No reports are available for the fourth school as it withdrew part way through the project. Principals, teachers, and parents interviewed for the evaluation spoke positively about the "culture of respect" which they felt became the norm in the schools. Challenges to the implementation of the project, such as staff and student turnover within the schools, were also noted.
The development of partnerships with parents, business, and community members was one of the "underlying strategies" of the Together We Light the Way model. This was based on the belief that all members of a community must work closely together to create a common and consistent environment for children. In this project, partnerships were created with businesses (i.e. General Electric), the criminal justice sector (i.e. Durham Regional Police), the provincial government (i.e. Ministry of Education and Training), the social service sector (i.e. Family Services Branch of Durham Regional Department of Social Services), and non-profit organizations (i.e. Kiwanis Club), that provided both in-kind and financial support.
The programs and strategies of TWLTW were documented in manuals, brochures, and videos. Training sessions continue to be held across the country and internationally. TWLTW was approved by the Ontario Ministry of Education to be used in the Ontario Teacher Recertification Process, thereby increasing its use and impact across the province.
In addition, the NCPC provided further funding to implement TWLTW in a total of six schools in Manitoba and Nova Scotia in 2002. This provided an opportunity to test the model in different jurisdictions and within different socio-cultural contexts. The model was also adapted by an NCPC-funded project called Strengthening Our Circle in southeast Saskatchewan to include components related to Aboriginal and other cultures in the region.
5.4. Creating Amicable Relationships in Newfoundland Groups (CARING) schools project
Avalon West School District
In 1999, the Avalon West School District in Newfoundland / Labrador asked students to complete a quality of life survey. The survey results indicated that bullying was the top concern for students. As a result, the district's Safe and Caring Schools Committee began looking at ways to address the issue of bullying. In 2000/01 the NCPS provided the committee with support for a project focusing on students in Kindergarten through Grade 9 in St. John's and area. After reviewing several possible curricula, the project decided to introduce the BRAVE (Bullying Resistance and Violence Education) program, developed in Surrey, British Columbia to Grade 5 classes in eight pilot schools. The intention was to replicate the project throughout the district once the pilot project was evaluated and improved.
The project was comprehensive in its approach, as it intervened at the level of students, teachers, parents, and the community at large. The activities included:
- Running a public awareness campaign;
- Developing resource materials;
- Hosting public forums;
- Organizing workshops for parents and school staff;
- Providing training workshops for guidance counsellors and educational psychologists who would then train students to become peer helper/counsellors within their schools; and
- Implementing an anti-bullying curriculum.
Through membership on the Safe and Caring Schools Committee, important key players such as the RCMP and the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association were involved in the design and implementation of this initiative. Once the program was at the delivery stage, the RCMP participated in presenting the curriculum to the students. St. John's local newspaper, The Telegram, provided the project organizers with a media vehicle to assist in networking and mobilization efforts.
The project's ability to accomplish its objectives was aided by the partnerships that were established. The Avalon West School District worked in partnership with The Telegram, local RCMP, Trinity Conception Youth Justice School District 18, the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of School Council, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association to deliver the project's various activities.
In the project's final report, the committee noted that throughout the course of the project the collaboration and strength of the partners became very obvious. The level of cooperation and trust increased as each organization involved realized that support from all the partners was required to make the project a success.
Continued funding for the curriculum and teacher training portions of the project were absorbed by the school board. Three years after the NCPS funding ended, these elements have been adopted as ongoing practices in the school district. The Grade 5 curriculum introduced by this project is now offered in approximately 30 schools in the district. This is accompanied by yearly in-service training for teachers. The school district is proud that their efforts ensured the program continued past its initial funding period.
Public awareness and concern about bullying continued to increase after the pilot project ended, leading to further actions at many levels. Newfoundland / Labrador's most recent teachers' collective agreement stated that all school districts must have a policy on anti-violence and bullying and that all schools must develop a plan to address these issues. While the Newfoundland / Labrador provincial government has introduced additional programs for different age groups across the province, the West Avalon School District continues to use the BRAVE program for Grade five students.
The Safe and Caring Schools Committee meets 10-12 times per year and has continued its work on bullying. For example, partly as a result of this project, they have secured funding from Judo Canada to offer an anti-bullying program for 12-15 year-olds, specifically for youth who have been identified as at risk for aggressive or bullying behaviour.
5.5. Quebec Joint Strategy on Bullying
Quebec Department of Public Security
In Quebec, the NCPC worked with the provincial Department of Public Security on a province-wide initiative to combat bullying. In 2000, proposals were solicited from community groups across the province to participate in a three-years endeavour to develop concerted efforts to tackle bullying. The project sponsors were invited to implement a structured approach to crime prevention, which had been outlined in the provincial crime prevention policy entitled, Making Our Communities Safer for Everyone. This approach required that the crime prevention strategy to be based on a well-articulated assessment of the local crime problems that were to be addressed.
The province-wide approach required projects to complete three stages: in the first year, projects would mobilize partners and carry out a needs assessment of the extent and nature of bullying in schools in their community; in the second year they would develop and begin implementing an action plan based on the results of the needs assessment: and in the third year, they would continue to implement and evaluate the plan. Funding was provided through the department of Public Security's funding program and the NCPC's Community Mobilization Program. The first year of funding in this province-wide approach was 2001/02.
Projects sponsors worked with schools to assess the needs of their students, using a standard questionnaire developed by the Department of Public Security. These needs assessment results were compiled both locally and provincially. The local data provided the basis for the development of action plans to intervene in schools and other areas where significant bullying problems had been identified. Analysis of the more than 16,000 questionnaires from across the province led to the production of a report entitled, Youth Taxing in Québec (PDF available). This document described the nature and extent of bullying across Quebec, from the point of view of victims, bullies, and witnesses. The report concludes that bullying was a complex and widespread phenomenon within the province of Quebec, identifying some general directions for solutions.
In the first year of provincial funding, 34 community groups received support. Since that time, several more groups have come on board for the first phase, while the original groups have moved on through the second, and in most cases, the third phase. Support for the three-phase approach has also been provided through CMP funding. In some cases, the CMP financed the needs assessment portion while the province funded the latter phases; in other cases the reverse was true, and CMP supported more than one phase in the same community.
Several of the CMP-funded projects that are part of this initiative were included in this study:
- La Maison des jeunes in the community of Carleton in the Gaspésie region was first funded by the Department of Public Security in 2001/02 to conduct a needs assessment (phase one). The results showed that acts of bullying are not often taken seriously in schools and that 30% of youth said they were afraid of being bullied. Poor self-esteem was also seen as a risk factor for victimization. The project received funding to develop an action plan to meet these needs (phase two). The action plan called for the creation of small groups of youth (with separate groups of boys and girls) who would meet weekly to engage in creative activities such as drawing, woodworking, or photography. Through these groups, participants developed self-expression, teamwork skills, and mutual respect. The project also offered workshops to students in grades 5 and 6 on self-esteem and how to handle intimidation and threats. The NCPC funding through the CMP was then used for phase three, the implementation of the action plan, which included developing a video to teach skills in handling bullying.
- A project called "Tax Actions" was funded by the CMP in 2002/03 to establish a committee of partners and to conduct a needs assessment among school children in the community of l'Assomption. The province is funding the next phase of the project, which is the development of the action plan based on the results of the study.
- In 2001/02, the CMP supported the needs assessment sponsored by the Mesures alternatives jeunesse Gaspésie- Sud, Inc. Questionnaires were administered to students in 18 elementary school classes and nine youth centres. This was followed by funding in 2003/04 for a project to train teachers, school administrators, and supervisors in how to respond to conflict situations, and to offer workshops to students in the schools. A similar approach was taken by an organization in the northern part of the Gaspésie, where CMP also provided two phases of funding.
6.0. Anti-bullying resources
One of the objectives of the NCPC is to increase the ability of communities to develop effective solutions to problems of crime and victimization. The production and dissemination of resources is an important part of achieving this objective. This section identifies national initiatives and provides a brief description of community-based tools, products and other resources produced by projects that were funded by NCPC.
6.1. Nationally focused resources
Canadian Initiative for the Prevention of Bullying – LaMarsh Centre for Research on Conflict Resolution
The Canadian Initiative for the Prevention of Bullying (CIPB) is a three-year project that began in fiscal year 2003-04. Its objective is to create a national blueprint for action with a coalition of non-government, educational and academic representatives. The CIPB's lead partners include researchers and practitioners in the field of child development at York University 's LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence and Conflict Resolution; the Community Health Systems Resource Group at Toronto 's Hospital for Sick Children; Queen's University; and the Centre for Youth Social Development in the Faculty of Education at University of British Columbia.
In 2004, the CIPB began to develop a national blueprint for the prevention of bullying by promoting partnerships among governments, national organizations, businesses, community groups and individuals. In doing so, this project recognized that bullying was a community problem, not just a problem in the schools, and one that is evident across the lifespan of the individual.
The CIPB's approach to the problems of bullying and victimization in Canada is twofold:
- Step 1: Development of a national framework as an empirically based foundation for education, assessment, intervention, and policy development in consultation with many organizations that have addressed concerns related to bullying in Canada. The components include education, assessment tools, intervention and evaluation protocols and policy development at various levels.
- Step 2: Dissemination and implementation of the national framework components via national organizations that focus on the well being of children and adolescents. Through this approach, the Canadian Initiative for the Prevention of Bullying aims to help all Canadian children and youth live in safe and healthy relationships within their families, schools, and communities. Further information on this initiative is available on its website at: www.bullyfreecanada.ca.
Preventing Crime Before it Begins – Concerned Children's Advertisers (CCA)
This project is a multi-year initiative to develop three public service announcements (PSAs) on the theme of bullying. To date, CCA has completed production of two announcements which have been aired on television across the country. The first PSA, Walk Away focused on the role of the bystander in sustaining a bullying incident, with the message to walk away from a bully who is making physical threats. The second PSA, Words Hurt, featured a group of girls taunting another girl, demonstrating the impact of verbal bullying and social exclusion. The message warned children not to be a part of it. A third PSA is being developed for release in fall, 2005. Parent and educator workshops are provided by CCA in venues across the country to reinforce anti-bullying messages introduced in the television announcements. In addition, the teacher's section of the CCA website provides detailed lesson plans, designed to work in conjunction with the PSAs, for children in kindergarten to grade 6. The website contains other bullying resources specifically designed for children, parents and teachers.
A Public Awareness Campaign on Bullying – The Canada Safety Council
The aim of this project was to provide practical resources to help schools take positive steps against bullying and to increase public awareness of bullying as a community issue. The document, Positive Steps Against Bullying: A Teacher's Guide was based on a study by Craig and Pepler (2001). The teacher's guide and other bullying resources are available for downloading from the ONF website.
Best Practices and Evaluation Tools for Anti-Bullying Programs – Canadian Public Health Association
This anti-bullying project collected research data and provided knowledge in the development of best practices for anti-bullying programs. The organization also developed a series of surveys to collect the opinions of students, parents, teachers and administrators on bullying. It has also generated two reports entitled Canadian Anti-Bullying Program Best Practices: Research Report and Bullying, School Exclusion and Literacy.
6.2. Curriculum/packaged programs
The Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities (Society for SACSC)
The Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities (SACSC) is a non-profit organization that seeks to educate children and youth, as well as the adults in their lives, in a way that promotes positive social interaction among all human beings. The programs aim to prevent bullying and violence in schools and communities through character building and conflict management. They promote a problem-solving approach to discipline that encourages positive social behaviour by helping young people learn from their mistakes and understand why certain behaviour is inappropriate.
The SACSC programs promote consistency at home, at school and in the community. School programs support the positive values that parents want to instil in their children. SACSC uses a comprehensive approach that includes components for students, teachers, support staff, parents and other members of the community. The values promoted through SACSC character education such as respect, responsibility, inclusiveness, caring and compassion are acceptable among all cultural and religious groups.
More information on the Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities can be found on their Web site. This website provides free information to help teachers, school staff, parents, students, and members of the community to build safe, caring and inclusive schools and communities.
Together We Light the Way - Durham District School Board
This project focused on creating a comprehensive school-based program comprised of seven interconnected program components:
- Respect (teaching morals and values-learning how to interact instead of bullying)
- Leading with Reading (early literacy)
- The Choice is Yours (positive life choices)
- Celebrating our Stars (rewards and recognizes academic achievement, sports achievement, and volunteerism in the community)
- Healthful Happenings (healthy food and living)
- Parenting Voices (parental involvement), and
- Connections – Classroom and Community (community partnerships).
Each component contains videos, resource manuals and brochures that are geared towards reducing the anti-social tendencies and increasing resiliency in young children.
Safe Communities for Safe Kids – Block Parents Association of New Brunswick
This project targeted children aged five and six. Community volunteers taught the children about personal community safety using a manual created by the organization. The resource manual provided ideas on how to use an interactive approach to teaching children about the following themes: peer pressure, instinct awareness and development, bullying and problem solving and general safety practices. The resource manual can be obtained from the organization:
Beausejour Block Parent Association
c/o Jacques Eve
Shediac, NB E0A 3G0
Put the Brakes on Bullying - Community Alliance for York Region Education (CAYRE)
The main purpose of this two-phased project was to raise public awareness, provide proactive information and develop tools and resources needed to reduce bullying behaviour in the York Region. The project sponsor developed:
- a video entitled Put the Brakes on Bullying,
- a whole school guide to reducing bullying,
- a bullying poster,
- newsletters and
- a resource catalogue geared towards use in schools.
For information, visit Community Alliance for York Region Education (CAYRE), the sponsor's website.
Crime Prevention Program - Dilico Ojibway Child and Family Services
This project created a culturally specific curriculum dealing with bullying for Aboriginal children. It was implemented in grades four to six in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The curriculum included four, 40-minute sessions. For information on the product, contact the sponsor directly at:
Dilico Child and Family Services
200 Anemki Place
Thunder Bay, ON P7J 1L6
Web site: www.dilico.com
REVISE (Reduce Violence in School Environments) – John Howard Society of Windsor – Essex County
This project created an anti-bullying curriculum targeted at youth in grades six and seven called REVISE. For more information about this product contact the organization at:
John Howard Society of Windsor-Essex County
880 Ouellette Ave, Ste 703
Windsor, ON N9A 1C7
Web site: www.johnhoward.ca
Focus on Bullying Video - British Columbia Teachers' Association
Standing Together, a 17-minute video on bullying was produced, along with a guide and train the trainer material to be used across B.C. To obtain information about this resource contact the British Columbia Teacher's Association at:
British Columbia Teachers' Association
Bullying Video Project- Richmond School District
This project produced three videos aimed at middle school to high school age:
- How much power would there be?; and
- The difference of one.
A guide, book, and curriculum were also produced to accompany the videos.
For further Information visit the Richmond School District through their website.
Rock Solid Children, Youth and Adults: Creating a responsive environment for the prevention of youth violence – Youth & Society Research Unit: University of Victoria
This project produced a video entitled Rock Solid Children, Youth and Adults: Creating a responsive environment for the prevention of youth violence. The video's aim was to present a clear consistent message that it takes skill, maturity, intelligence and teamwork to take a stance in the prevention of violence. An accompanying interactive manual serves to sensitize adults to the importance of responding to children and youths' requests for assistance in dealing with peer violence, harassment and intimidation. For information regarding these resources please contact:
The Centre for Youth & Society – University of Victoria
P.O. Box 1700 STN CSC
Victoria, B.C. V8W 2Y2
Le phénomène de taxage et des gangs de rue – Leur présence à Verdun – C.E.S.A.R.E.I. Carrefour Interculturel de Verdun
This project was based in Montréal, Québec. Its primary focus was the creation of a video and accompanying guide called Tax. The video discusses the subject of bullying amongst children aged 8-13. For further information, contact:
3988 Wellington Street
Verdun, QC H4G 1V3
Prévention au sujet de l'intimidation et de la victimisation – Maison des jeunes de Carleton
This project originated in the Gaspésie region of Quebec. It involved youth in the creation of a bullying video entitled Pourquoi moi? as a way of educating them about bullying. For more information, contact the organization directly at:
Maison des jeunes de Carleton
10 Centre civique Street
P.O. Box 1068
Carleton-Saint-Omer, QC G0C 1J0
Le taxage, moi je le dénonce – La Maison des Jeunes La Galerie inc.
This project created a comic book depicting bullying scenarios and how to solve them. Information is available from the sponsor:
La Maison des Jeunes La Galerie inc.
3643 Notre-Dame West
Montréal, PQ H4C 1P6
Implic'Taxons (volet 2) – La Maison des jeunes de Farnham
This Québec-based project involved youth in creating a comic book and a video related to bullying. Inquiries can be made to the sponsor:
La Maison des jeunes de Farnham inc.
455 Yamaska East
Farnham, QC J2N 1J2
Web site: www.mdjf.com
For more information on these or any other tools, products and resources produced in partnership with the National Crime Prevention Strategy, please contact the National Crime Prevention Centre at 1-800-830-3118 or visit our website.
The NCPS created a fact sheet Footnote 9 on project planning frameworks for community organizations. An NCPC project life cycle consists of four phases:
- Phase 1 - community needs assessment. This phase helps identify the crime prevention issue and the contributing risk and protective factors.
- Phase 2 - planning phase. This phase includes setting goals and project objectives, choosing activities, developing a budget and establishing evaluation and sustainability plans.
- Phase 3 - implementation phase. The project is promoted and monitored.
- Phase 4 - Evaluation. The project is evaluated mid-way through implementation and at the end to determine what worked and what should be changed.
The first two phases of a project life cycle are sometimes neglected or done quickly, which can compromise the results of a well-meaning initiative and its evaluation. Additional information is provided below on the community needs assessment and the planning phase. For additional information on all phases please consult the NCPC fact sheet.
Phase 1: Conducting a local needs assessment Footnote 10
A needs assessment is conducted for the purposes of determining local issues that need to be addressed. It is also the point where the risk factors that are contributing to the problem should be determined along with the strengths available in the community to help reduce the problem (protective factors). This information can inform the development of a school-based anti-bullying policy and identify program parameters that would be the most effective in a given school.
Although Canada is currently lacking a national model for needs assessments for bullying problems, the Canadian Public Health Association Footnote 11 created an inventory of school safety surveys for students, teachers, parents, and administrators to be used as common measures of bullying in schools across the country. Health Canada has also developed a student needs assessment questionnaire, Voices and Choices Footnote 12, which examines a variety of student health issues in the school, including bullying. In Quebec Footnote 13 bullying projects are required to conduct a needs assessment prior to implementing any type of initiative or policy.
Phase 2: Planning
Prior to implementation of bullying prevention initiatives, a detailed plan of the solutions that will be used to address the risk factors or enhance the protective factors identified should be developed. This plan should identify the main activities and how they relate to specific aspects of the problems as identified in the needs assessment. It should also include objectives for the project (in measurable terms), a schedule and timelines, list of resources, potential partners, a budget, an evaluation framework and a sustainability plan.
Creating a program evaluation framework Footnote 14
Most anti-bullying initiatives, like the majority of crime prevention through social development initiatives, are not evaluated. This makes it difficult to clearly identify which types of interventions are effective in addressing bullying behaviours. Academic researchers lobby for more evaluation rigour in interventions, but many communities and their schools have insufficient funds to do so. The gap between academic researchers and schools needs to be bridged so that promising practices can be identified.
Evaluation is a key component of all project phases that ensures the project is proceeding according to plan and achieving the goals it set during the planning stage. It can also help to determine what processes were unsuccessful and should be changed for future interventions.
The outcome of a project can be measured in terms of changes in a number of areas including knowledge, attitudes, behaviour, skills and various school parameters (e.g., its culture, policies). These potential areas of change should be identified and measured before starting a bullying prevention project. Then the measurements should be repeated at least once during the intervention and at the end of the project. Identifying the key changes that are expected from the intervention a priori will ensure the evidence is available to demonstrate the success of a project.
Evaluations where data is gathered at multiple points have a higher level of credibility than a one-time measure (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 1999). In addition, evaluation tools that survey different participant groups help to present a more accurate picture of the progress that has been made. Evaluation and monitoring can be done inexpensively and quickly using generic surveys, behavioural indicators and interview formats, for example. These methods are even more useful and effective if they are administered before, during and after the intervention is implemented.
Incorporating plans for sustainability
A successful one-time project is based on the results of a thorough needs assessment, which accurately identifies the local population affected and its specific needs. Sustainability of that initiative beyond the initial phase usually indicates that it has achieved a certain level of recognition and support within in the community. Factors that can affect project sustainability include:
- Funding stability: adequate funding is essential for the implementation of remedial solutions; without appropriate resources in the face of challenges, the project may suffer or be terminated.
- Continuous monitoring: this is required to ensure the project is running as planned. Project coordinators should assess the project at different stages to determine if it is addressing the relevant issues and objectives; effective projects are sustainable projects.
- Strong partnerships: effective partnerships usually help to secure funding. They can provide in-kind support and, through their network, help identify additional funds more easily and; therefore, ensure the continuation of the project's activities.
The sustainability of a school-based project is largely related to the school's capacity to support change. If the school lacks leadership, positive teacher morale, teacher mastery, a healthy climate, and resources, the project will be less likely to achieve successful long-term results (Gottfredson, Wilson & Skroban Najara, 2002).
Involving multiple stakeholders: the whole school approach
A whole school approach involves the school principal, teachers, other school staff, students and their parents in addressing the issue of bullying within schools. The roles and responsibilities of these groups may vary depending on factors such as the school culture, anti-bullying program parameters and age of the students. The following information provides general guidelines and suggestions for responsibilities and roles for each group (see also: Mayencourt, Locke & McMahon, 2003; Shannon & McCall, n.d.).
The principal plays a key role in implementing and promoting anti-bullying initiatives within the schools and among its students (Sampson, 2002). Very little momentum will be created in an anti-bullying campaign without the principal's complete cooperation and endorsement. The school principal can lead an anti-bullying initiative and motivate students, parents, school staff and community stakeholders to be involved in anti-bullying initiatives (Shannon & McCall, n.d.). The principal has the responsibility of assigning roles and responsibilities for each individual or group involved in the anti-bullying program, including the bullies, victims, bystanders, teachers, parents, school counsellors and community members. These roles and responsibilities should be clearly stated in school anti-bullying policies (Pepler & Craig, 2000; Smith, 2000).
How a teacher feels about bullying can have a huge impact on the students in the classroom. Some teachers feel they cannot influence how students relate to one another and so they fail to intervene at all (Mayencourt, Locke & McMahon, 2003; Sudermann, Jaffe & Schieck, 1996). Others feel that bullying is just a 'normal' part of childhood that does not require intervention (Brewster & Railsback, 2001; Glover, Gough, Johnson, & Cartwright, 2000; Pellegrini, 2002). Another common belief is that bullying does not occur or is a rare event within the classroom.
Without appropriate training, teachers may actually encourage bullying in their classrooms by ignoring it, or by deeming it a normal part of social interactions. The teacher needs to be aware of potential problems in the classroom and around the school so that preventive actions can be taken (Fox, Elliot, Kerlikowski, Newman, & Christeson, 2003; Brewster & Railsback, 2001; Pellegrini, 2002). Teachers need to create a positive and healthy classroom environment and to develop and be able to teach prosocial behaviour and conflict mediation skills to their students (Olweus, 1993; Pepler & Craig, 2000; Pepler, Smith & Rigby, 2004). Training workshops on how to handle a bullying situation, how to prevent bullying and how to model appropriate behaviour can provide teachers with effective tools for classroom management (NAAG, 2000; Smith, 2000).
In cases where a bullying situation is beyond the control of a student, school counsellors can be introduced to the situation to work with children directly involved in or affected by bullying incidents. Counsellors can play a significant role in the reduction of bullying in schools by addressing the specific needs of the individuals involved (Hoover & Olivier, 1996; Ma, Stewin & Mah, 2001). While counselling approaches vary, the counsellor's main responsibility is usually to mediate solutions between the bully and victim. Throughout mediation, the counsellor can direct the energy of both parties toward more positive interactions in hopes of developing effective solutions. The counsellor can also help to train other school personnel in addressing bullying appropriately and consistently (Ma, Stewin & Mah, 2001). The ultimate goal is to identify the underlying causes of the bullying and victimization. If the reasons for bullying behaviour can be determined, the intervention can help guide the participants toward positive solutions.
In some cases, to resolve the issue completely, it is necessary for the counsellor to involve the parents in the discussions (Hoover & Olivier, 1996; Ma, Stewin & Mah, 2001). Regular contact with the parents confirms whether the interventions are resulting in improvements or if more in-depth treatment is required (Pepler & Craig, 2000). Furthermore, the counsellor is best placed to determine if the involved students can benefit from additional aid from an agency or other support group and, if necessary, will attempt to link children with more serious psychosocial problems (Hoover & Olivier, 1996; Pepler & Craig, 2000; Pepler, Smith & Rigby, 2004; Shannon & McCall, n.d.).
Other school staff (administrators, school board leaders, support staff -janitors, kitchen staff)
Students learn best by example. If adults in school settings expect students to act according to a code of conduct, they need to ensure that their attitudes and behaviour are consistent with those in the anti-bullying policy (Pepler & Craig, 2000). School staff may directly or indirectly convey that bullying is a right of passage, that children should resolve their own conflicts, and that, if ignored, the bullying will eventually stop (Pepler & Craig, 2000). Holding such attitudes and ignoring a bullying incident ultimately leaves the victim alone to solve a situation that feels overwhelming. Typically this allows the bullying to continue unabated, causing further damage. Adult intervention and guidance is essential in helping the victimized student and in reducing or eliminating the power imbalance between the parties involved in the bullying incident (Pepler & Craig, 2000; Shannon & McCall, n.d.).
All students, not just those directly involved in the bullying can benefit from learning the appropriate social skills and effective ways to handle bullying incidents (Pepler & Craig, 2000). Pro-social learning benefits the entire school population as it teaches everyone how to treat others with respect and how to defend oneself without using violence or intimidation (Smith, 2000). The Canadian Initiative for the Prevention of Bullying (CIPB) undertook a review of anti-bullying programs and found that the most successful initiatives worked on three levels to provide support not only to those directly involved in bullying incidents, but to all students within the school. These three levels of intervention are: 1) universal programs targeting the larger student population; 2) indicated programs focusing on students in the early stages of bullying or victimization; and 3) selected programs dealing with those who have more serious problems with bullying and victimization (CIPB Conference, 2004). This approach ensures that all students are aware of the problem and know how to deal with it effectively. It also provides additional support to those most in need.
Parental involvement is a key issue in addressing bullying in schools (Ma, 2002; Mayencourt, Locke & McMahon, 2003; Shannon & McCall, n.d.). The main goal of involving parents is to improve the lines of communication between school and parents on bullying and to secure their support for the school's policy and programs on bullying (Smith, 2000). Asking parents to provide information for the preliminary needs assessment and for the anti-bullying policy can serve to accomplish this goal. Parents also need to be given accurate information on bullying and how to deal with it, along with encouragement to contact the school if they suspect incidences of bullying (Pepler & Craig, 2000).
Research by Roberts, Hanvey & Varga-Toth (2003) asserts the important role that parents play in addressing their child's experience of school violence. They found parents need to become more aware of the everyday problems in their child's lives, including general violence and bullying. If parents do not understand the seriousness and extent of the problems, they cannot help their children respond to them.
Involving multiple stakeholders: the comprehensive approach
In addition to a whole school approach where school staff, students, and parents are involved in implementing an anti-bullying program, the school should consider including community representatives, police, health and human services, and education and other ministries in the intervention (Shaw, 2001; Shannon & McCall, n.d.). In a comprehensive approach, a school may recruit organizations and individuals within the community that are not usually connected to the school to help in their anti-bullying initiative. Anti-bullying initiatives within the community also can serve to complement actions taken within the school to address bullying behaviour. Community-based programs are not addressed here, but can also include multiple stakeholders including the two groups indicated below.
Police, as respected authority figures of the community, can model positive, non-aggressive responses to negative situations. When incidents occur at the school requiring individual attention, a police officer with an existing relationship with the school is better situated to address both the students and the respective parents (Pepler & Craig, 2000; Shannon & McCall, n.d.). In the case of a student who bullies, a meeting with the parents to discuss the nature and legal consequences of certain actions, such as physical attacks or extortion, may be appropriate. The officer is most effective when a solution can be developed with the parents and the child, relying primarily on pro-social techniques of problem solving. If charges are laid, the police officer can be supportive and involve parents and their child as much as possible to develop constructive solutions.
Police forces around the country have developed school-based programs to address violence in schools. Footnote 15 The RCMP has organized a comprehensive National Youth Strategy, which includes a number of school-based police initiatives each modified to apply to various jurisdictions. The Halton Regional Police Service in Ontario, for example, has a School Resource Program, where students from kindergarten through grade eight receive age-appropriate sessions on crime prevention and bullying (Ryan & Matthews, 1995).
Health and human services sectors
The harmful effects of bullying can include both physical and psychological harm (Smith, 2000). The physical harm sometimes caused by bullying can include bruising, cuts, sprains, broken bones, or the manifestations of psychological trauma, such as headaches, nausea, and anxiety (Smith, 2000). The harmful psychological effects bullying can have on the individuals involved can also be severe and long-lasting (Smith, 2000). Being bullied can lead to withdrawal, lack of energy, decreased motivation to attend school, anxiety and fatigue (Pepler & Craig, 2000; Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2003). As such, (nurses, mental health care workers) the health and human services (social worker) can assist in the treatment of victims and the prevention of further bullying (Health Canada, 2002).
Mental health care workers and school nurses can identify health risk factors that may indicate victimization, since the health identifiers are similar to those associated with childhood depression and abuse (Health Canada, 2002). When bullying leads to health related outcomes, a health care worker can also intervene to stop the bullying and help the child heal before the health issues become overwhelming (Health Canada, 2002).
There are two key factors in facilitating the support provided by a health care worker about the physical and psychological impact of bullying. First, students must feel they can approach a health care worker in trust and confidence (Roberts & Coursol, 1996). Second, the health care worker should have the authority to make referrals to appropriate support services in cases where the needs of the students extend beyond their expertise. In such cases, it is important that students in need of help are able to receive it, and where necessary, be referred to more specialized services.
Addressing the multiple risk and protective factors underlying bullying
Risk factors are embedded in an individual's personal, social and economic profile. While individual level risk factors play a significant role for perpetrators and victims of bullying, important risk factors exist within the context of friendships, families, schools, communities and society (Artz & Nicholson, 2002; Catalano, Arthur, Hawkins, Berglend & Olson, 1998; Hawkins et al., 1998; Pepler & Craig, 2000; Rigby, 2003).
For example, poor family management (where discipline is lax or too punitive, parents provide ineffective supervision, or few limits on aggressive behaviour) has been identified as a risk factor for bullying and other delinquent actions (Craig, Peters & Konarski, 1998; Farrington, 1998; Hawkins et al., 1998; Olweus, 1993). Not surprisingly, research shows that in order for an intervention to be successful change must occur at multiple levels (Pepler, Craig, Ziegler & Charach, 1994; Pepler & Craig 2000; Finnish Centre for Health Promotion; Hawkins et al, 1998; NAAG, 2000; Shaw, 2001). Targeting risk factors at different levels allows practitioners to get to the root of the bullying problem, which is often embedded in community or societal values, beliefs, and norms.
Protective factors are positive influences that can improve the lives of individuals or the safety of a community when a higher level of risk is present (NCPC, 2004). Like risk factors, they exist at multiple levels (i.e., individual, family, school, community, societal levels of influence) and work by shielding an individual from the negative impact of risk factors. The benefits of protective factors accumulate over time, increasing a child's resiliency and lowering the likelihood of the child engaging in anti-social or criminal behaviour.
Resiliency, Footnote 16 the ability to recover from adversity, is cited as the most effective protective factor during childhood development (Zimmerman & Arunkumar, 1994). Even in the presence of multiple risk factors, a resilient child can overcome great adversity to achieve a positive outcome. Resilient factors such as self-esteem, competence and optimism, can be fostered and nurtured, where the child's family, school and social life are positive and supportive of the child's social and academic development (Zimmerman & Arunkumar, 1994).
Age appropriate interventions
Across all age groups, whole school anti-bullying programs should include definitions of bullying, discussions on how bullying affects everybody, and what students can do to eliminate bullying in their school (B.C. Ministry of Education & B.C. Ministry of Attorney General, 1999; Pepler & Craig, 2000). Interventions should also include building social skills for children and youth including: lessons on interpersonal skills, assertive coping strategies (especially for those being victimized), empathy, and conflict resolution (Lumsden, 2002; Mahady Wilton, Craig & Pepler, 2000; Pepler & Craig, 2000; Pepler, Smith & Rigby, 2004; Sampson, 2002; Smith & Madsen, 1999).
For useful suggestions on age-related content of interventions see: Smith (2000) and Pepler & Craig (2000). Anger has not been found to be a main motivator for bullying behaviour (Pepler, Smith & Rigby, 2004). Therefore, anger management does not need to be a central aspect of antibullying interventions, although it can have a positive impact on social interactions of children who have trouble managing this emotion.
Primary grades (ages 4-9)
Children at this age are adjusting to prolonged periods of time away from their primary caregiver. Success at this point of development is characterized by adjustment to school routine and the emergence of interpersonal skills of cooperation, empathy and sharing. Children in this age group who are having problems may display difficulty relating to their peers in a pro-social manner as evidenced by disruptive play and insensitivity to the needs of others. Therefore, interventions for these children should focus on the basics: the development of social skills such as cooperation, respect and empathy (B.C. Ministry of Education & B.C. Ministry of Attorney General, 1999; Smith & Madsen, 1999).
Bullying in primary grades is characterized by direct physical and verbal aggression aimed primarily toward same-sex peers. If the behaviour is not corrected early on, it is likely to continue and get progressively worse (Fox et al, 2003; Hepworth, 2001). Interventions in the primary grades can help support children as they develop the necessary interpersonal skills and learn how to effectively relate to others. Working cooperatively with other children to complete a task can help children understand and respect others' perspectives. It also helps them learn to trust and to be more tolerant of others and diversity (Smith & Madsen, 1999).
Cooperative activities are more effective when they are integrated into everyday activities in the classroom. For example, cooperative group work and circle time should be introduced early on, from about age five, as a means to complete work in various academic subjects. Circle time helps create a positive classroom climate by emphasizing communication, self-esteem and relationship development (Smith, 2000).
Middle grades (ages 10-13)
At this stage, children are primarily interested in interacting with same-sex peers and look increasingly towards them for social approval rather than to their parents. Psychological (social and verbal) bullying emerges in grades 4, 5, and 6 as children learn about social power in relationships with their friends (Pellegrini, 2002). There is the beginning of interest, near the end of this stage, in the opposite sex and an awareness of gender-based roles. As this occurs, social aggression and sexual harassment behaviours appear more frequently and are targeted toward both same- and opposite-sex peers (Pepler & Craig, 2000; Pepler, Smith & Rigby, 2004). According to an American meta-analysis of international studies on childhood aggression, children in early adolescence have a more positive view of aggression than younger children and are more likely to reinforce aggression in their peers (Pellegrini, 2002). Similarly, in Canadian surveys, 11 to 12 year-old students reported bullying others more than younger (9 to 10 year-old students) or older (13 to 14 year-old) students.
In fact, bullying rates increase with age for boys and girls, reaching a peak in middle grades (11 to 14 year-old students) and then tapering off in high school (Craig, Peters & Konarski, 1998; Pellegrini, 2002; Smith & Madsen, 1999). Interventions for children in the middle grades should continue to emphasize the development of social skills introduced in earlier grades such as cooperation, respect and empathy. However, at this stage, the youth can become more involved in the delivery of the program (B.C. Ministry of Education & B.C. Ministry of Attorney General, 1999; Smith, 2000). One effective approach with this age group is a peer support program, provided the adults within the school adequately support the children and remain involved throughout the process (Cowie, Jennifer & Sharp, 2001; Pellegrini, 2002; Pepler, Smith & Rigby, 2004; Smith, 2000). Peer-oriented programs are important at this age because developmentally, the children begin to turn more toward their peer group for the support and approval they once obtained from their parents (Pepler & Craig, 2000).
Secondary school grades (ages 14-18)
In high school, teens are maturing cognitively and physically into young adults with increasing social challenges and responsibilities, including changes such as transition to a new school, dating, and part-time jobs. Orientation programs that address school transition, school climate and behavioural expectations can help new students adjust to a new school environment and feel more connected to the older students. The school's policy on bullying behaviour, the consequences for bullying and procedures for reporting bullying behaviour can be part of the initiative.
Bullying at this stage is characterized by the addition of new aggressive behaviours including dating violence, sexual harassment and homophobia. While dating violence occurs within relationships, homophobia and sexual harassment is typically directed within a broader social context. (Connolly, Pepler & Craig, 2003a). Awareness sessions on the harmful impact of social exclusion, sexual harassment and homophobia can help reduce the likelihood that these forms of bullying will become widespread (Pelligrini, 2002; Pelligrini & Long, 2002).
Whole school interventions involving youth and using in-depth problem solving are most effective at this age group (B.C. Ministry of Education and B.C. Ministry of Community Safety and Solicitor General, 2001; Pepler, Smith & Rigby, 2004). Peer counselling services such as hotlines, drop-in services, and tutoring services are examples of problem solving approaches that work (Cowie, Jennifer & Sharp, 2001; Smith, 2000).
Recent evidence indicates that the needs and responses of students on the issue of bullying are not uniform. For example, different groups of students, such as members of the gay and lesbian community, may be disproportionately targeted for bullying. As discussed earlier in this document, girls and boys sometimes differ in their reporting of bullying behaviour. They may also respond differently to the same program interventions. More research is needed to explain how gender and other differences can be best addressed within a school anti-bullying program.
Bullying with sexual undertones may be considered sexual harassment rather than bullying, just as bullying with cultural undertones may be considered racism. As a result, anti-bullying interventions in schools may not include these aspects in their approach. Research indicates that the nature, prevalence, and reaction to bullying differ between boys and girls; the implication for schools is that gender based approaches should be included in their violence prevention programs (Artz et al., 2000; Artz & Nicholson, 2002; Pepler, Smith & Rigby, 2004; Shaw, 2002). It may also be effective to develop gender-based interventions since boys and girls respond differently to some program parameters (Artz et al., 2000; Artz & Nicholson, 2002; Eslea & Smith, 1998; Tutty et al., 2002).
Bullying based on sexual orientation
The available research on gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered (GLBT) individuals indicates that youth members of the GLBT community are disproportionately targeted for violent acts at school:
- A study conducted on gay, lesbian and bisexual youth in 14 cities in the U.S revealed that "80% reported verbal abuse, 44% reported threats of attack, 33% reported having objects thrown at them and 30% reported being chased or followed [in schools]". The effects of these attacks can be devastating to the victim and quite long lasting (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – PFLAG).
- A study by the University of Calgary revealed that one third of youth suicides in Canada are committed by individuals who self-identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual (Shaw, 2002).
- Victimized gay, lesbian and bisexual youth are five times more likely to attempt suicide than victimized heterosexual youth (McCaskell, 1999).
Attacks against the GLBT community seem to be motivated by hatred and intolerance for their alternative lifestyle. Individuals who are members or are perceived to be members of the GLBT community are targeted as a way to send a message to the whole community (Nelson & Kiefl, 1995). Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) suggest raising awareness in schools and teaching tolerance to all members of the school community as methods of lowering homophobic bullying (McCaskell, 1999). Other methods to create a positive and tolerant school climate include appropriate curricular activities and teachings, having a school policy against bullying that specifically prohibits bullying against minorities, including the GLBT community and providing social supports within the school for GLBT students (Anti-bullying Network, n.d.; Connolly, Pepler & Craig, 2003b; Schools-Out.org.uk, n.d.; Smith, 2000).
Ethnoculturally-based bullying Footnote 17
Bullying is considered ethnoculturally-based if it is perceived as such by the victim or by someone who witnesses the bullying (Smith, 2000). Ethnoculturally-based bullying is similar to homophobic bullying in that it occurs when an individual is targeted as representing a minority group. This can cover a wide variety of actions; therefore, practitioners must address it using a wide variety of means. Ethnoculturally-based bullying should be identified in anti-bullying policies so that students understand that it is wrong.
While research seems to indicate the majority of bullying is not ethnoculturally-based, a recent Canadian study found that 7-21% of students in grades six to ten reported being bullied based on their race, colour or religion (Craig, 2004). Another study of children attending public schools within Toronto (Kindergarten to grade 8) found race-related bullying was reported by 43% of the students and 36% of the teachers (Charach, Pepler & Ziegler, 1995). More research is needed to make conclusions about the severity of ethnoculturally-based bullying within Canada, the factors that contribute to it and the appropriate responses to prevent it.
It is generally accepted that to be able to deliver effective anti-bullying programs to address ethnoculturally-based bullying, teachers know how to address such issues as cultural awareness and sensitivity (Anti-Bullying Network, n.d.; Shaw, 2001). Since teachers, other school staff, and volunteers serve as role models for children, it is essential they demonstrate and express appropriate behaviours and attitudes. Once they have these skills themselves, teachers can then teach students the appropriate skills (such as empathy, assertiveness, knowledge about relationships, rights and responsibilities and developing values of openness and respect for diversity) and guide them to use these skills in response to bullying, racism, and discrimination.
Interventions involving Aboriginal students show promise when they consider culture-based practices to resolve bullying incidents. Some solutions include bringing an Elder into the school to play a counsellor-type role (Bullying. No Way!, n.d.; Ontario Ministry of Education & Training, 1994), using restorative justice practices (Mayencourt, Locke & McMahon, 2003) or taking part in Aboriginal sentencing circles (Matas, 2002).
Bullying and learning disabilities
Research generally indicates that children with a learning disorder or disability are more vulnerable to victimization than their peers (Heinrichs, 2003; Nettellbeck & Wilson, 2002; Smith, 2000; Unnever & Cornell, 2003). Conversely, research also indicates that children and youth with learning disabilities may be more likely to engage in bullying behaviours:
- In a study of 1,315 middle school students, Unnever and Cornell (2003) found that 34% of students taking medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), in comparison to 22% of other students, reported being bullied at least 2 to 3 times per month. A positive link was made between the students suffering from ADHD and being victimized by bullies.
- This same study (Unnever & Cornell, 2003) found that students taking medication for ADHD reported a higher rate of bullying (13%) than their peers (8%).
- A Canadian study found that in elementary school, children with special needs were bullied at a higher rate than other children: 38% were victimized compared with 18% of children in regular classes (Charach, Pepler & Ziegler, 1995)
- In a United Kingdom study, it was found that students with special needs were 2 to 3 times more at risk of being bullied, yet they were also more likely to bully others when compared to other students (as reported in Cowie, Jennifer & Sharp, 2001).
Although further research into this area is required, interventions that improve the social and behavioural skills of children with learning disabilities while increasing peer support and tolerance for their differences within the school may be effective.
Methodology for mining project files
This report supports one of the directions in the NCPC' 2001-2005 Strategic Plan - developing knowledge in focus areas (DKFA). Focus areas were selected for review based on the following criteria:
- There has been a concentration of funding support from the NCPC;
- They reflect government direction and priorities, where progress was critical; and
- They reflect areas of interest to Canadians.
One of the first areas identified for review was school-based anti-violence (SBAV), of which bullying is one aspect. At the beginning of the work, the intent was to mine all SBAV files, but it soon became apparent that there were too many files for the resources and time available. Therefore, it was decided to focus this study on school-based anti-bullying initiatives, since bullying has been identified as a priority concern for communities and proposals to combat bullying are received on a regular basis by NCPC.
Selection of projects for inclusion
To be eligible for inclusion in the study, projects had to have received funding before March 31, 2003. Potential SBAV projects were first identified using the administrative database used to track all NCPC-funded projects. Use of the key words bullying, aggression, violence, and anti-social yielded a list of over 600 projects.
Once it was determined that the focus would be on school-based anti-bullying, a subset of 62 files was identified through reading the project descriptions contained in the administrative database and selecting those which focused in major way on bullying, dealt with children or youth under 18 years of age, and either took place in a school or were connected directly to schools or school staff. This list of projects was sent out to NCPC project officers, who were asked to verify whether the projects dealt with school-based anti-bullying. Based on their responses, adjustments were made to the list.
Furthermore, as the files were reviewed, some projects were excluded from the bullying subset because they did not meet the criteria, and others were added from the more general school-based anti-violence group of projects, because it was found that they did in fact deal with bullying. The final data set included 87 school-based anti-bullying projects.
Source of data
The source of data for the review was NCPC project files. These generally included a funding application, a funding summary prepared by NCPC staff, and, when the project was completed, a final report. Sixty-four of the 87 projects contained final reports. Correspondence, site visit reports, newspaper clippings, materials produced by the project, and evaluation reports were also included in the review when available. Since the projects funded under the Crime Prevention Investment Fund (CPIF) are normally of three to five years' duration and require a third-party evaluation, the CPIF projects included in this sample typically provided a considerable amount of documentation.
Data collection instrument
A template was developed to record the information from project files and to identify common issues and themes. The main topics addressed in this report are listed below:
- Project history
- Funding program and year
- Amount of funding
- Geographic location
- Risk and protective factors addressed
- Project participants
- Levels of intervention/influence (i.e. individual, family, school, community, society)
- Involvement of participants in project development, management and delivery
- Sector represented by sponsoring organization
- Project objectives and results
- Project activities
- Successes and challenges
- What worked well, what did not work well
- Types of tools/products/resources produced
- Networking and partnerships
- Sectors represented by partners
- Types of contributions by partners
- Perceived effectiveness of partnerships
- Next steps identified by project
- Need for future funding and potential sources
The template allowed for coding of some responses according to pre-determined categories, and for recording narrative information drawn directly from the files. The completed template was stored as a Microsoft Access database.
The file review was conducted by research assistants (typically senior undergraduate students in the social sciences), supplemented by NCPC staff who were part of the Developing Knowledge in Focus Areas (DKFA) initiative. An initial two-day training session was held, as well as regular weekly meetings between the research assistants and NCPC staff supervising the process.
The following methods were used to ensure that the categories for coding the data were interpreted consistently and that the desired level of detail was extracted from the project files:
- A coding and interpretation guide was developed as a reference tool; the tool was updated as new decisions were made during the process;
- An in-depth review of at least one file for each research assistant was undertaken. As well as providing feedback to the students, the supervising staff used the information thus obtained to focus the ongoing training;
- Inter-rater reliability checks were performed on two occasions. After addressing some of the areas of discrepancy between coders, the process was repeated, and a higher level of agreement was observed; and
- Additional verification of the coding was conducted at the data analysis stage, and differences in interpretation were discussed and corrected by the one analyst working on that particular question.
The data analysis was conducted by a research assistant and a member of the NCPC DKFA team. Frequencies and percentages were calculated using the quantitative information, and the narrative information was analyzed for common themes. Weekly meetings of an advisory group were held to review the data analysis, interpret the results, and suggest new avenues to explore.
Reflections on the methodology
The following reflections are provided to assist other organizations considering a similar project in which they wish to extract information from project files:
- Identification of projects: Administrative databases do not necessarily provide an effective means of identifying projects in a particular topic area. We are aware that there are more school-based anti-bullying projects funded by NCPC that did not come to light using the procedures described above. It may be necessary to utilize a variety of mechanisms for identifying projects (e.g. administrative database, discussions with staff, other project lists), and this may require more time and resources.
- Available data: It is important to ensure that the information required to answer the questions in the extraction template is available in the files. This in turn requires that the reporting guidelines or forms for projects request information on the topics of interest, in a way that the information can be provided in a consistent manner which permits "rolling up." It may also be advisable to employ other, creative ways of obtaining reflections from project staff regarding "lessons learned." Such reflections may sometimes be better captured through oral rather than written means.
- Consistency of interpretation: To ensure that file information is interpreted and recorded consistently by those doing the file review, it is essential that sufficient time be devoted to developing an instrument that is clear and unambiguous. In addition, the number of people doing the actual coding should be as small as possible. Finally, training and ongoing supervision must be provided.
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- 1 The sources of data for the external review portion of the study were academic journals, interviews with academics, conferences and a review of anti-bullying websites sponsored by governments, schools, interest groups and international organizations. This information provided a context for review of NCPC project results and for recommendations for future NCPC-sponsored projects.
- 2 Other countries include: Lithuania, Germany, Austria, Greenland, the Russian Federation, Latvia, Switzerland, Estonia, Ukraine, United States of America, Denmark, Italy, Portugal, Poland, Israel, France, Belgium (Flemish), Belgium (French), Netherlands, TYFR Macedonia, Croatia, Greece, Spain, Norway, England, Finland, Slovenia, Wales, Hungary, Scotland, Ireland, Malta, Czech Republic and Sweden.
- 3 For further information on best practices, consult Catalano, Arthur, Hawkins, Berglund & Olson, 1998; Craig & Pepler, 2000; Craig, Ziegler & Charach, 1994; Gottfredson, Wilson & Skroban Najaka, 2002; Jager, Bradley & Rasmussen, 2003; Ma, Stewin & Mah, 2001; Shaw, 2001; Scheckner, Rollin, Kaiser-Ulrey & Wagner., 2002; Tutty et al., n.d.)
- 4 For additional information on pre-packaged prevention programs that have been evaluated, see Tutty et al., 2002.
- 5 Leading Canadian researchers on bullying, Drs. Debra Pepler and Wendy Craig, through the LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence and Conflict Resolution, have produced a document called Making a Difference in Bullying, which gives practical information on school intervention on bullying.
- 6 For more information on NCPC funding programs, please visit the NCPC website.
- 7 The 1999 Evaluation Framework for the National Strategy, Phase II called for a summative evaluation to be conducted in 2002/03, with a focus on assessing the results of National Strategy funding that can be attributed to the work of the NCPC. The Project Impact Study of the National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention, Phase II (Department of Justice Canada, 2003) focused on addressing project impacts such as project reporting procedures, evaluation issues, and information gaps in project results. The object of the study was to provide information on project impacts under the CMP and CPPP programs to support the requirements of the summative evaluation.
- 8 Created as a sub-study of the summative evaluation of Phase II of the National Strategy, the Partnership Study, National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention, Phase II (JamiesonHartGraves Consulting, 2002) provides insight into the nature and diversity of less formalized partnerships within the National Strategy, and reports on information about how partnerships operate at national and community project levels. Overall, this study examines how the Strategy's approach to partnership development and implementation is perceived and experienced at national and project levels.
- 9 The Community Mobilization Fact Sheet, Project Plan, is available on the NCPC website.
- 10 The Forum on Children and Violence in the UK launched a campaign called Towards a Non-Violent Society: Checkpoints for Schools (National Children's Bureau, 2000), which provides a guide for schools to raise awareness for a non-violent society, and to monitor school violence prevention efforts. The Checkpoints program is available here (PDF Version).
- 11 The Canadian Public Health Association's school safety surveys.
- 12 Health Canada 's Voices and Choices needs assessments.
- 13 Get more information on Quebec 's bullying initiative (PDF available) here.
- 14 NCPC has developed a framework for youth-based program evaluation called You Can Do It which involves school staff, parents, and students in the process. Another NCPC product, Step By Step, outlines practical guidelines for effective project evaluation. See also Tutty et al., 2002 for information on designing outcome evaluations.
- 16 For more information on resiliency, see NCPC's Resiliency in Young Children information sheet.
- 17 In this document the term "ethnic" refers to a group of people who have a common national origin or who share distinct physical characteristics. The term "culture" refers to the customs, institutions, including religious institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people or group.
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