At a glance
The Olweus Bullying Prevention programme is a school-wide programme designed to prevent bullying amongst children aged 10-14. It includes administering a bullying survey, establishing a Bullying Prevention Coordinating Committee and addressing bullying incidents through separate follow-up meetings for bullies and victims. The classroom level component involves establishing clear and consistently enforced rules against bullying, along with regular class discussions and activities designed to reinforce rules and anti-bullying values and norms. Discussions and activities also present the harm caused by bullying and strategies for preventing it. The programme encourages parental involvement through meetings and discussion of the problem and efforts to address it.
Overview of results from the European studies
The programme has been evaluated in two quasi-experimental studies in Norway and one quasi-experimental study in England, UK.
The original Norwegian study used comparisons of adjacent age-cohorts, with 2500 students in Grades 4 to 7 from 42 schools. There were reductions in self-reported bullying, antisocial behaviours (theft, vandalism and truancy) and self-reported victimisation, improved school climate, as well as teacher and peer reports of bully-victim problems. The outcomes were found in the first follow-up (8 months after baseline) as well as the second follow-up (20 months after baseline).
The second Norwegian study was conducted in grades 7 to 9 in 6 schools. The study evaluated the effects on substance use behaviours and did not include bullying measures. There were significant effects on 3 of 9 measures. There were significant differences between groups in levels of cannabis use, smoking, and drunkenness between groups, with levels much higher among control group.
The English study was also conducted with adjacent age-cohorts. of 6,758 students, aged 8 to 16 years, from 24 schools participated. Although for most measures, changes were better in treatment schools than in comparison schools, the study only showed a significant intervention effect on frequency of bullying.
Countries where evaluated
Description of programme
The Olweus Bullying Prevention Programme targets the problem of bullying at three levels: the school, the classroom and the individual. Designed for elementary and middle schools, the programme addresses the problem of bullying with multiple strategies at each level. At the school level, students are given an anonymous questionnaire (25-45 minutes long) to assess the nature and prevalence of bullying at the school. The survey is administered in spring of the school year prior to programme implementation. Secondly, the school administration convenes a conference day, during which programme consultants and school staff discuss findings from the student questionnaire, familiarize themselves with the programme and its effects (through discussions with programme consultants, handbooks and videos), form a Bullying Prevention Coordinating Committee, and plan for programme implementation. The coordinating committee includes representatives from all constituencies involved with the school, i.e. administration, teachers, counsellors, health professionals, parents and students. The school level component also involves increased adult supervision of school areas that are frequently the setting for bullying, i.e., the playground, cafeteria and restrooms.
The classroom level component involves establishing clear and consistently enforced rules against bullying, along with regular class discussions and activities designed to reinforce rules and anti-bullying values and norms. Discussions and activities also present the harm caused by bullying and strategies for preventing it. The programme encourages parental involvement through meetings and discussion of the problem and efforts to address it.
Individual level components include interventions with bullies, victims and their parents. Interventions are designed to ensure the cessation of the bullying behaviour and to provide support to victims.