Evaluation of the effectiveness of an anti-bullying programme in primary schools
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A nationwide programme to prevent and manage bullying in Irish schools, based on that implemented in Norway in 1996, is currently being developed, and pilot work with a sample of primary schools within a single county of Ireland has been conducted and evaluated (the staff and pupils of 42 primary schools having been involved). A network of professionals (11 teachers) were trained to co-ordinate the anti-bullying programme in the schools, subsequent activities involving their training teachers (a total of 197) and parents in three to five schools each. In evaluation, pupils from 22 of the schools completed modified versions of the Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire [Olweus, 1989; Whitney and Smith, 1993]. Teachers completed a questionnaire (concerning their knowledge and feelings about bullying [Rigby, 1997]) both before and after the implementation of the anti-bullying training programme. Significant reductions were found in pupils' reports of having been victimised after the implementation of the programme. Overall, 19.6 per cent fewer children were victimised. There was a reduction of 50.0 per cent amongst those frequently victimised within the last school term, and of 43.0 per cent in reports of having been bullied within the last five school days. A reduction of 17.3 per cent in pupils' reports of having taken part in bullying others was also observed after the implementation of the programme. There were, in particular, significant reductions (69.2 per cent) in reports of frequently bullying others within the last school term, and of 51.8 per cent in reports of having taken part in bullying others within the last five school days. Whilst the programme was shown to reduce the incidence of pupils' involvement in bullying behaviour, the perennial challenge of attempting to increase the levels of pupils' reporting of bullying to teachers and parents remains a challenge for the authors to attend to in the further development of the nationwide anti-bullying programme. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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