Cross, D., Waters, S., Pearce, N., Shaw, T., Hall, M., Erceg, E., et al. (2012). The Friendly Schools Friendly Families programme: Three-year bullying behaviour outcomes in primary school children. International Journal of Educational Research, 53, 394–406. Access Abstract
NPM: 7-1: Child Safety/Injury (0-9 years)
Intervention Components (click on component to see a list of all articles that use that intervention): CLASSROOM, Adult-led Curricular Activities/Training, SCHOOL, School Rules, Teacher/Staff Training, PARENT/FAMILY, Training (Parent/Family), Notification/Information Materials (Online Resources, Information Guide), PATIENT/CONSUMER, Educational Material, Motivational Interviewing, Other Education
Intervention Description: The FSFF trial was guided by the conceptual framework (Fig. 1) that addressed the larger social context of a student’s life using a whole-school, system-based approach. The framework suggests ecological, cognitive and psychosocial risk and protective factors that are potentially amenable to change, and that can be regulated or mediated at the school, classroom, family and/or individual levels to reduce bullying. Both the FSFF high and moderate study conditions comprised four levels of intervention; whole-school, classroom, family and individual. Table 1 Friendly Schools Friendly Families study design. Condition Baseline Grades 2, 4 and 6 (March 2002) Intervention 2002 Posttest 1 Grades 2, 4 and 6 (November 2002) Intervention 2003 Posttest 2 Grades 3, 5 and 7 (October 2003) School maintenance of intervention Posttest 3 Grades 4, 6a (October 2004) High O1 X1 O2 X2 O3 X6 O4 Moderate O1 X3 O2 X4 O3 X7 O4 Low O1 X5 O2 X5 O3 X1,2 O4 O1–4 = data collection; X1,2 = high capacity intervention – (whole-school, capacity building and active parent involvement); X3,4 = moderate capacity intervention – (whole-school and capacity building); X5 = low capacity intervention – (standard school programme, brief whole-school intervention and no capacity building support or active parent involvement); X6,7 = high and moderate intervention schools’ maintenance respectively, of the FSFF intervention in follow-up year. a The baseline Grade 6 cohort had moved to secondary school prior to posttest 3 and hence was not assessed. D. Cross et al. / International Journal of Educational Research 53 (2012) 394–406 397 1. The whole-school level activities aimed to: (a) build a positive social climate, positive relations and connectedness between students, school staff and parents; (b) provide effective policies and common understandings and practices to prevent and effectively manage and reduce current bullying; and (c) build school capacity support for implementation through assessment of organizational structures, resources, skills and commitment levels. These outcomes were addressed using detailed whole-school support materials and assessment tools and staff training that suggested modifications to the school’s social, organizational and physical environment (e.g., enhancing supervision levels, availability of student activities during break times, tracking bullying ‘hotspots’) and through the involvement of students’ families. 2. Developmentally appropriate classroom level activities targeted all grade levels from 1 (5–6-year olds) to 7 (12–13-year olds). The activities were designed to complement students’ other social and emotional learning. As used by Olweus (1991), the classroom learning focused on the reciprocal relationship between students who observe bullying, those who are bullied or bully others and their social environment. The learning activities developed common understandings about the nature of bullying, its effects and how it can be discouraged whilst also addressing empathy and social skill building. The activities helped teachers to enhance the positive interactions they have with students using role play, stories, role modelling, skills training and observational learning. All high and moderate intervention schools participated in a 2-h, whole-staff, in-school training to consolidate common understandings about ways to systemically prevent and manage bullying and develop students’ social skills, and their role in teaching the learning activities. 3. The family level activities worked in partnership with parents by building their awareness, attitudes and self-efficacy to role model and help their children to develop social competence and to prevent or respond to bullying. These activities also encouraged school and parent communication and parents’ engagement with the school to reduce student bullying. 4. The individual level activities included selective and indicated activities to support victimized students; to help modify the behaviour of students who bully others; and to facilitate school links with local health professionals with specialist skills. Key school staff were trained to use problem-solving, restorative approaches to prevent and manage bullying incidents, including the Method of Shared Concern (Pikas, 2002).
Conclusion: Notwithstanding these limitations, this research adds to the growing evidence for policy-makers and practitioners that carefully designed whole-school (universal) interventions appear to be able to reduce student bullying victimization and perpetration. It also suggests that interventions that target students in their social context, including their home and school, are more likely to produce positive change than classroom-only approaches. Few previous anti-bullying studies, as reported by Smith et al. (2004), have allowed for comparison of intervention and control conditions for self-reported bullying, and only a few have achieved the effect sizes found in this study. In particular, the Smith et al. (2004) review of 14 school antibullying programmes indicates that, unlike this current study, not one of the eight controlled studies reviewed found significant effects for the behavioural outcome ‘bullying others’. The results of this study suggest to practitioners that positive changes in 9–12-year-old students’ experiences with bullying behaviour (including frequent perpetration and victimization) can be achieved through implementation of a wholeschool programme that includes capacity building and active parent involvement, and that whole-school action to mitigate bullying needs to begin prior to Grade 6, and requires at least two years of implementation to achieve behaviour change. Understanding the social contexts and settings in which young people bully, through the different stages of their development in primary school, is important for practitioners to develop targeted interventions to discourage and ameliorate the effects of bullying. This study followed three cohorts of Grades 2, 4 and 6 students to determine which age groups would benefit developmentally the most, from this whole-school approach. Whilst only the effects of the intervention on the Grades 4 and 6 cohort have been examined in this paper, it seems clear to policy makers that prevention efforts need to begin in schools well before Grade 6 when these behaviours may become more established and reputations are harder to change (Hymel, Wagner, & Butler, 1990). Further research is needed however, to determine the boundary conditions around the effectiveness of the FSFF intervention on different sub-populations and its sensitivity to the developmental needs of students. Through its three treatment group design the FSFF study attempted to determine the relative contribution of capacity building for more targeted parental engagement over and above that typically provided in a comprehensive whole-school programme to reduce bullying. Whereas the reported family implementation of this programme was relatively low, the results from this study concur with Stevens, Bourdeaudhuij, and Van Oost (2001) that bullying prevention programmes do appear to benefit from more intensive efforts within the home environment and increased attention to parental involvement. Further, Ttofi and Farrington’s (2009) meta-analyses of the key elements of anti-bullying programmes highlighted the importance of parent training and informing parents. Whilst this current study focussed on actively informing parents about bullying through and with their children, limited training was provided for parents. Given the possible impact of parent engagement in this study, it may be important for policy makers and practitioners to additionally provide training opportunities for parents, especially in areas such as cyberbullying, to enhance the outcomes achieved in this study. Further research is needed, however, to more fully understand the mechanisms that explain the differences found in this study, and how to increase and sustain the involvement of parents in programmes to reduce school bullying.
Study Design: Group RCT/ Controlled experimental design and random assignment.
Target Audience: Students in Grade 4 and Grade 6
Data Source: Students' self-reports; peer nomination reports; teacher and parent reports.
Sample Size: Students from 20 schools. 1,334 students in the high intervention; 1,109 students in the moderate intervention; 1,454 students in the low intervention.
Age Range: Not specified