School-Based Bullying Prevention: Doing Supportive Research

Do Your Homework

  • Overview

    StartIt is important to research different anti-bullying programs and practices before you begin to implement your own. There are a number of ways to research programs and practices that address the issue of bullying in schools, including: 1) searches on clearinghouses such as the Model Programs Guide; 2) internet searches; and 3) speaking with others who have implemented bullying programs. As you research your options, you will begin to understand the wide variety of programs and practices that address school-based bullying. This understanding will help you make the best choice about how to select a program that fits your school’s specific needs.

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  • Steps to Take: Lessons Learned from the Research

    Steps to Take:  Lessons Learned from the Research

    Understand school-based bullying to frame and address the issue properly.

    • Dispel any myths or misperceptions about bullying.
    • Consult research that reviews and summarizes numerous studies on bullying.

    Search for evidence-based bullying programs on evidence-based clearinghouses.

    • Explore the evidence-based bullying prevention programs featured on the MPG.

    Determine if an evidence-based program fits the needs and available resources of your school and community.

    • Select a program that addresses the targeted problem.
    • Think about how much of an investment is required to implement a program.
    • Establish a set of questions to guide the research process.

    Search other sources of information to find out more on bullying.

    • Talk with someone who has implemented a bullying prevention program.
    • Search online sources with bullying-related information.
    • Searching for Information on Bullying

      Research on bullying has looked at a variety of different topics, such as:

      • Different types of bullying (e.g., school-based, cyberbullying);
      • Causes and predictors of bullying behavior;
      • How often bullying occurs in schools;
      • The consequences of being a victim of bullying; and
      • The characteristics of students who tend to be bullied or who tend to be bullies.

      When implementing a program to address bullying, it helps to have a good understanding of school-based bullying.

      • Dispel any myths or misperceptions about bullying. There are a number of myths or misunderstandings that people have about bullying. For example, most people believe that boys are more likely to use physical forms of bullying, such as hitting or kicking, while girls are more likely to use verbal forms of bullying, such as spreading rumors or gossiping.

        In fact, research suggests that boys are just as likely as girls to use verbal bullying and show behaviors that hurt the reputation of their peers (like spreading rumors or excluding peers from the group). Information and research like this can provide an accurate picture of school-based bullying.

        Dispelling myths and misperceptions can help you frame the problem within your school or community and help you set realistic expectations of the types of changes that you can expect to achieve.

      • Consult research that reviews and summarizes numerous studies on bullying. Certain types of publications, such as literature reviews and meta-analyses, can help you get up to speed quickly. These types of documents summarize information found across several studies and can help save you time.

      Find Research Results Fast

      Below are two places where you can find consolidated anti-bullying research results.

      1. The MPG’s bullying literature review includes information on recent research about factors, including:

      • The scope of the problem;
      • Why bullying happens;
      • The impact of bullying;
      • Types of bullying programs; and
      • Results from program evaluations.

      2. School-Based Bullying Prevention Programs on discusses the various types of bullying programs available and provides a summary of the results from three larger analyses.

    • Searching for Evidence-Based Programs on Clearinghouses

      Conducting supportive or background research is especially important when selecting an evidence-based program to implement. Certain types of research, such as program evaluations, can show whether a specific program was effective at preventing or reducing bullying in a given situation. But, program evaluations only measure one particular program at a certain place, during a certain time, and with certain people, so it is important to look at a variety of evaluations. One resource to identify a number of different evidence-based bullying prevention and intervention programs is the MPG.

      • Search the evidence-based bullying preventions programs featured on the MPG. Click here to view the bullying prevention/intervention programs currently listed on the MPG.

      • The profiles of the bullying programs featured on the MPG include information about the
        • Program’s components;
        • Methodology and outcomes from evaluations of the program;
        • Information on cost and implementation (if available);
        • References of the evaluations that were reviewed and rated to determine a program’s overall rating;
        • References to supplemental information about the program; and
        • Any related practices (featured on

      Other Sources to Consider

      There are other evidence-based clearinghouses with information on school-based bullying prevention programs, including the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development run by the University of Colorado Boulder.

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    • Assessing How Well a Program Fits

      As you research each specific program, think about how well it fits the needs of your school and your students. Also, think about the resources available to your team and the goals or values of your school. For example, a program that focuses on giving students a second chance would not fit well in schools that emphasize zero-tolerance policies.

      • Select a program that addresses the targeted problem. Although the programs listed on the MPG focus on the general problem of school-based bullying, they may vary in the specific behaviors that are addressed. For example, an evaluation of the Success in Stages program looked at the impact on bullying, victimization, and bystander behavior. On the other hand, studies of the Positive Action found the program reduced bullying and other disruptive behaviors, including violent behavior and substance abuse. It is important to make sure the program you select will address the identified bullying problem in your school (for more information about identifying the specific problem of bullying in a school, see Conducting a Needs Assessment).
      • Think about how much of an investment is required to implement a program. Some programs may address the identified bullying problem for a school but may require more time, money, or resources than other programs. For example, the School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support program requires a lot of time from staff members (especially members of the school teams) to be trained and learn how to implement the program model. Conversely, the Success in Stages program is an Internet-based system that does not require training for teachers, and students can work on their own to complete the various components.
      • Establish a set of questions to guide the research process. Sifting through the information about a program can be cumbersome and overwhelming. But, you should ask certain basic questions along the way:

        1) How much money does a program cost?

        2) How much time and training is required?

        3) Is the program implemented schoolwide, or is it classroom-based? Is it both?

        4) Will the program be implemented by school administrators, guidance counselors, classroom teachers, or other school staff members?

        5) Are the program materials appropriate for the age/grade of students who will participate?

        6) Is the program compatible with the culture or values of the school and community?

        7) Is there training and technical assistance available from the program developer or another vendor?

        8) From the research available, what changes should you expect to see as a result of the program? Do these changes align with the goals that you’ve set?

        9) What resources and materials are required to begin implementation of the program?

        10) Does the school or community have the capacity—funding, resources, time, and support—to continue to implement the program over time?

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    • Searching Other Sources

      In addition to the research on bullying, there are other sources of information that should be searched to find out more on bullying prevention programs and the implementation process.

      • Talk with someone who has implemented a bullying prevention program. If possible, take the time to talk with other school administrators or teachers who have implemented an anti-bullying program. You may gain valuable insights into the process that can help you determine whether a particular program is right for your school. For example, school counselors played an important role in the implementation of the WITS Primary Program in several schools in Canada, because they worked in multiple schools that were implementing the program and could talk about their experience with teachers and administrators in different settings.
      • Search online sources with bullying-related information. For example, provides a host of information about bullying, including facts about who is at risk for being bullied or becoming a bully, as well as ideas to prevent bullying in schools and communities. The Web site is geared toward all audiences, including school administrators, teachers, and parents.

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