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Research Shows that the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program Is Effective in a High School Setting

Initial results from a large-scale study in Pennsylvania show positive effects from implementation of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) in high school settings.

Bullying Prevention: A Statewide Collaborative That WorksThe report, Bullying Prevention: A Statewide Collaborative That Works, is available from the Bullying Prevention Institute.

The Highmark Foundation in Pennsylvania has been leading the nation in the implementation of the OBPP. The Highmark Foundation's Healthy High 5 Initiative is on pace to impact 200,000 students--20 percent of all students in their service area.

Through two large initiative grants, called PA CARES (Creating an Atmosphere of Respect and Environment for Success) and HALT!, the Highmark Foundation funded a large number of schools to implement OBPP in Pennsylvania. At the time the report was published, 89 schools had received PA CARES mini-grants and 30 school districts have been funded through the HALT! program.

The following high school data are highlights of the study to date. Ongoing analyses are being conducted and likely will be released early in 2011. These data represent the largest evaluation study of OBPP to date in the United States.

High School Results with the PA CARES Grant

After three or more months of implementation of OBPP in PA CARE schools, positive findings were observed in high schools, including:

  • An 18 percent decrease in reports of being bullied
  • A 25 percent decrease in reports of bullying others
  • Increased perceptions that adults at school were actively working to address bullying

High School Results with the HALT! Grant-Cohort 1

At the end of 12 or more months of implementation of OBPP in the first cohort of HALT! schools (3 high schools), positive findings were observed in high schools, including:

  • A 16 percent decrease in reports of being bullied
  • A 39 percent decrease in reports of bullying others
  • Increased perceptions that adults at school were actively working to address bullying

High School Results with the HALT! Grant-Cohort 2

After six or more months of implementation of OBPP with the second cohort of HALT! schools, positive findings were observed in the 13 participating high schools, including:

  • A 15 percent decrease in reports of bullying others
  • Increased perceptions among high school students that adults at school were actively working to address bullying
  • A 12 percent decrease in the number of high school students that believed they could join in bullying
  • A 20 percent increase in the number of high school students who believed they would help a bullied student after OBPP implementation

Overall, reductions in student self-reports of bullying others were observed among nearly all cohorts and age groups. Results appeared to be particularly positive among high school students, where reductions were observed in bullying others of 15 to 39 percent, depending upon the specific cohort.

Almost universally across age groups and cohorts, positive changes were observed in students' perceptions that adults in the school were actively working to address bullying. There were reductions ranging from 11 to 53 percent in the number of students who felt that their teachers had done little to address bullying.

Perceptions of High School Teachers

Very positive findings were observed regarding high school teachers' perceptions of bullying and activities to address bullying at school after one year of OBPP implementation. For example, there were marked increases (ranging from 14-131 percent) among elementary, middle and high school teachers in the likelihood that they regularly (two or more times per month) talked with their classes about bullying.

Consistently positive increases were observed in elementary, middle and high school teachers' perceptions that their schools' rules and policies about bullying had been clearly communicated to students (ranging from 17-69 percent), parents (ranging from 14-81 percent), teachers (ranging from 19-30 percent) and other staff (19-34 percent).

Overall High School Student Outcomes

For HALT! and PA CARES, there were surprisingly positive intervention results for student reports of being bullied, bullying others, and perceptions of adult responses to bullying and attitudes about bullying.

Additional evaluation data on the high school implementation of OBPP will be available in early 2011.

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