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Bullying Prevention Programs From Around the World: Lessons to Be Learned. Debra Pepler Scientific Co-Director, PREVNet York University & HSC www.prevnet.ca. Imagine a world without bullying. Where going to school, or to the playground is always treasured, never feared.

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Bullying prevention programs from around the world lessons to be learned l.jpg

Bullying Prevention Programs From Around the World: Lessons to Be Learned

Debra Pepler

Scientific Co-Director, PREVNet

York University & HSC


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Imagine a world to Be Learned

without bullying

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Where going to school, or to the playground is to Be Learned

always treasured, never feared.

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Where all children to Be Learned

have safe and healthy relationships.

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It’s happening … to Be Learned

because we

are working


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Lessons Learned from International Bullying Prevention to Be Learned

  • Developmental perspective: differences, timing,

  • Systemic: teachers and principals, peer processes, parents, community

  • Intervention strategies with: children who bully, children who are victimized, in classrooms, with bystanders, school level, community level

  • Policy: Kandersteg Declaration

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Lessons Learned from Colleagues around the World to Be Learned

Available through



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An Ecological Perspective on Bullying Prevention: Binocular Vision






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Developmental: VisionFocus on Individual Students

  • Different developmental capacities, motivations, and vulnerabilities

  • Different peer group susceptibility at different ages

  • Effective prevention/intervention must be long-term (throughout school years) and tailored

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Treatment Effects of Probability of Vision

High Bullying

On average involvement in bullying changes from 1 in 17 to 1 in 30 students

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Treatment Effects of Probability of High Victimization Vision

On average victimization changes from 1 in 9 to 1 in 25 students

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Our Lessons Learned Vision

  • The odds of bullying increase significantly without the intervention program.

  • Different schools have different immediate responses to the intervention program.

  • Individual students have different responses to the intervention, depending on the level of risk.

  • To decrease the odds of high bullying significantly, need an enhanced intervention program that focus on the high-risk students.

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Lesson: Students involved in high and prolonged bullying and victimization need intensive support

  • The most highly involved students have psychosocial needs that may be beyond the scope of the school in addressing.

  • Programs, such as by Koivisto in Finland and Limber in US established links with professionals and community agencies for additional support.

  • In Australia, the Friendly Schools – Friendly Families program reaches out to train community professionals and seeks assistance from them for families needing additional support.

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What Can We Do with Youth Who Bully? victimization need intensive support

Identify bullying early to prevent later problems

Respond consistently when bullying is observed (teaching moment)

Build skills, awareness, empathy & insights

Provide alternatives to gaining power though bullying

Promote healthy relationships by finding positive contexts for troubled youth.

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What Can We Do In victimization need intensive supportSevere Cases?

  • It is important to support chronically involved youth in controlling their anger, developing social understanding, and solving social problems in adaptive ways.

  • These youth may need to be referred through student services, special education and/or the mental health system.

  • These youth require intensive clinical and moment-to-moment support tailored to their needs until they learn the skills and orientations necessary for healthy relationships and civil behaviour.

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What We Can Do to victimization need intensive supportProtect and Support Victimized Youth

Clear policies on bullying – consistently applied

  • When policies exist, but are not acted upon, the consequences, severity and frequency of bullying is actually far worse.

    Safety and intervention plans

  • Many schools struggle with how to intervene

  • If policy is not enforced, youth get the message that there are no consistent consequences.

  • Communication with victimized youth and family is important.

    Trusted adult

  • Encourage victimized youth to identify a trusted adult in the school or community setting.

  • Ensure that the adult has the skills to develop a plan to end the bullying and to ensure that the youth is protected.

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Lesson: Bullying changes with age so programs need to be tailored

Early intervention programs, such as Alsaker’s kindergarten program in Switzerland and O’Moore’s primary school program in Ireland may prevent children from falling onto stable bullying and/or victimization pathways.

Stronger effects in primary compared to secondary schools in many countries perhaps due to stage and structure of school (fewer connections between adults and students).

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Lesson: Bullying prevention needs to be timed to precede problem

Need prevention programs in middle school, before adolescent forms of bullying arise.

Lessons on respectful relationships and social responsibility are required throughout high school.

US: Expect Respect - Barri Rosenbluth , Nan Stein – sexual harassment

Canada: Fourth R – David Wolfe for: peer and dating violence, healthy sexuality, and substance use.

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Systemic: problemFocus on Relationships

The most successful bullying prevention programs had:

  • Leadership from principal and teachers

  • Inclusion of all students in learning about and responding to bullying

  • Focus on peers as part of the problem and solution

  • Involvement of parents and community

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Lesson: Leadership from Principal and Teachers is Key problem

Training for school staff is essential

  • Smith (England) – success of program depends on leadership of principal

  • Olweus (Norway) – teachers were key agents of change for implementation of program

  • Salmivalli (Finland) – the more teachers implemented the program, the more bullying problems improved

  • Alsaker (Switzerland) – teachers who participated felt more confident in dealing with bullying, were more supportive of victimized students, and more willing to speak with parent

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Lesson: Focus on peers as part of the problem and solution problem

  • Cross (Australia): Use peer group to provide support for students who are bullied and use positive peer pressure to discourage bullying

  • Salmivalli (Finland): Work with teachers to provide students with skills and courage to intervene; discourage students from joining in.

  • Menesini (Italy): Focus on sense of responsibility and respect of others; peer support models such as befriending and peer mediation. Peers viewed as a school resource for bullying prevention. Peer approaches alone are less effective than whole school programs.

  • O’Moore (Ireland): Whenever possible, use restorative approaches when dealing with aggressive behaviour

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What We Can Do About: problemPeer Pressure

  • Reduce associations among troubled peers and find situations that will help keep bullying in check.

  • Encourage youth to recognize and resist peer pressure to bully

  • Help youth plan, finding excuses to walk away from situations where they might bully.

  • Help youth understand that just because others watch and laugh, it doesn’t mean they like bullying.

  • Encourage youth to talk to someone they trust, like their parents, a friend, a teacher, a counselor for help finding ways of getting along with others.

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Lesson: Involvement of parents problem

  • Cross (Australia): Friendly Schools, Friendly Families Program – close cooperation between staff and parents; many channels of communication; develop positive strategies to deal with bullying; increase awareness of signs and symptoms of bullying and follow-up

  • O’Moore (Ireland): Training to encourage parents:

    • to contact school if suspected their or another child being bullied;

    • challenge their own children’s unacceptable behaviour

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Lesson: Involvement of community problem

  • Cross (Australia): Friendly Schools, Friendly Families Program – professional development for community, community links for professional help

  • Ortega (Spain): program based on Convivencia – living together in harmony (opposite of violence); Spanish society views school violence as a lack of education for convivencia and tolerance. Involvement of many facets of the community (police, recreation, community leaders).

  • Leadbeater (Canada): WITS and WITS LEADS programs for Grades K to 5 – developed in partnership with police.

    Lessons five times per year with visits from police, firefighters, paramedics, athletes. Positive effects, manuals free online! www.rocksolid.bc.ca

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International Collaboration problemto Create a World without Bullying

Kandersteg Declaration

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Kandersteg Declaration Against Victimization in Children and Youth

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Kandersteg Declaration: problemMoving towards Global Understanding and Action

We the participants at the Joint Efforts Against Bullying Conference in Kandersteg in June 8th to 10th, 2007 pledge our long term commitment and determination to promote healthy relationships and prevent bullying and victimization in children and youth.

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Kandersteg Declaration problem

Today, an estimated 200 million children and youth around the world are being abused by their peers.

Every child and youth has the right to be respected and safe. Bullying is a violation of this basic human right.

It is the moral responsibility of adults to ensure these rights are honored and that healthy development and citizenship are promoted. Many adults want more understanding and strategies to address bullying problems effectively.

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Kandersteg Declaration problem

Bullying is a form of aggression, involving the abuse of power in relationships. It is recognized globally as a complex and serious problem. It has many faces, including the use of emerging technologies, and varies by age, gender, and culture.

Children and youth involved in bullying suffer. Bullying and victimization problems begin early in life and for some last a lifetime.

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Kandersteg Declaration problem

Many risk and protective factors associated with bullying are known and prevention programs are being implemented in several countries with encouraging results.

The mental and physical health, social, and academic consequences of bullying have an enormous impact on human and social capital. The costs of bullying burden our education, health care, social services, and criminal justice systems, as well as work force productivity and innovation.

Bullying concerns and affects us all.

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To endorse the Kandersteg Declaration visit the website: problem


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Creating a world problem

without bullying starts with each of us …

Thank you for your contribution!