Positive Behavior Program Prevents Bullying

Bullying and peer rejection combated with positive environmental changes in schools

(RxWiki News) Bullying can cause a host of mental and physical health problems in youth. Unfortunately, many programs designed to combat it are ineffective - but a new study gives hope to a program that focuses on positive change.

A program called School-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS) has proven to be an effective method for reducing incidents of bullying and peer-rejection. Though most bullying takes place in middle school, this program is implemented in elementary school.

"Ask your therapist how your child should deal with bullying."

Tracy E. Waasdorp, Ph.D., of the Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence led the study which evaluated SWPBIS in 37 Maryland public elementary schools.

The authors of the study state that "SWPBIS teaches behavioral expectations through direct instruction, positive reinforcement and consistent consequences, promoting acceptable social and classroom behaviors. This in turn is theorized to reduce the likelihood of engaging in and rewarding bullying behavior.”

Altering the school environment to create improved systems and procedures is shown to be effective in the study. Other methods, including zero-tolerance, were not.

“Results indicated that children in the SWPBIS schools displayed significantly less bullying behavior and experienced lower levels of rejection over time vs children in the comparison schools,” the study indicates.

The researchers concluded that it is better to be proactive in bullying prevention. By implementing SWPBIS in elementary school children are better prepared for adolescence and bullying in middle school is reduced.

The data for the study came from 12,344 students in 37 Maryland public elementary schools.

The study was published in the February issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine and funded by grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the Institute of Education Sciences.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 6, 2012