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Virginia Study Shows Reducing Bullying Behavior Increases Academic Performance

Findings from the study were presented in a recent Webinar

Schools in Virginia that implemented the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program saw a significant increase in test scores, according to a recent study.

A statewide initiative that began in 2006 enabled a wide-scale implementation of the evidence-based Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) in 94 schools. Among the more striking findings was a significant increase in standardized test scores in English, math, science, and history among schools that completely implemented the program. Even in schools where there was not complete compliance, test scores rose.

Changes found in bullying prevalence and teacher initiative included:

  • 63% of schools reported decreases in the frequency of children being bullied.
  • 75% of schools reported decreases in the frequency of children bullying others.
  • 31% of schools reported increases in teachers speaking to students about bullying behaviors.
  • 81% of schools reported increases in teachers actively trying to counteract bullying in the classroom.

The project was designed to address child and adolescent health through violence prevention and was awarded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to increase Virginia's capacity for bullying prevention. More than 94,400 students participated in this collaborative project managed by the Injury and Violence Prevention Program of the Virginia Department of Health, and Virginia Commonwealth University, Center for School-Community Collaboration.

Dr. Catherine Moffett, Director of Bully-Free Virginia, the director of the project, worked with Stephanie Goodman, M.P.H., Data and Evaluation Coordinator, Virginia Department of Health, in the initial study of data collected by the schools.

In general, OBPP has been proven to significantly reduce student reports of being bullied and bullying others. Results have also shown marked reductions in student reports of general antisocial behavior such as vandalism, fighting, theft and truancy; and clear improvements in the classroom social climate, as reflected in students' reports of improved order and discipline, more positive social relationships, and more positive attitudes toward schoolwork and school.

Today, OBPP is being used in over 6,000 schools nationwide, and 700 Olweus trainer/consultants are certified to help schools implement the program. Also, 14 states have a statewide partnership in place with OBPP. Training is developed and conducted by the Institute for Family and Neighborhood Life at Clemson University, Clemson, S.C.

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