Program

Jun 05, 2013

OVERVIEW

The Friendly Schools program is a tiered whole-school intervention designed to prevent bullying by improving students’ social competence and relationships. The program has three levels: whole-school intervention, family intervention, and classroom intervention. A randomized controlled trial compared fourth grade students who took part in the program with students who received traditional state health education. Results indicate that students participating in the program were less likely to be bullied during the first year of intervention; less likely to see someone being bullied during the two years of intervention as well as one year after the program ended; and, more likely to tell someone when they were bullied during the two years of program participation, but not after the program ended.  No differences were detected between program participants and non-participants with regards to bullying other students.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target Population: Fourth-grade students

Friendly Schools is a whole-school intervention designed to prevent bullying by improving students’ social competence and relationships. The program has three levels: whole-school intervention, family intervention, and classroom intervention.

The whole-school-level part of the intervention involves forming a whole-school team of key staff members trained to guide the implementation of the school’s bullying policy and manage student-level bullying incidents.

The family-level portion of the intervention involves nine 10-15 minute take-home activities and 16 newsletters designed to reinforce what students learn in classrooms, spread out over two years.

The classroom intervention involves nine hours per year of interactive student-centered learning activities focused on attitudes, knowledge, and skills.  More specifically, activities are centered around building pro-social skills, improving knowledge of bullying, and teaching students how to react to bullying.

EVALUATIONS OF PROGRAM

Cross, D., Monks, H., Hall, M., Shaw, T., Pintabona, Y., Erceg, E., Hamilton, G., Roberts, C., Waters, S., & Lester, L. (2011). Three-year results of the Friendly Schools whole-of-school intervention on children’s bullying behavior. British educational Research Journal, 37(1), 105-129.

Evaluated Population: Twenty-nine primary schools, randomly selected from all government primary schools in an Australian metropolitan area, were included in the study. Fourth-grade students within these 29 schools participated in the study. A total of 1,968 eight- and nine-year-old students (mean=8.6 years) participated in the baseline assessment.  By the third post-test, 1,376 students remained in the sample (70 percent of the original sample). At baseline, 50 percent of the sample was female, and 19 percent had a parent with university education.

Approach:  These 29 schools were randomized into either an intervention or a comparison condition.  Students in the intervention group schools received the Friendly Schools program in fourth and fifth grades in place of the standard state health education curriculum. Students in the comparison group schools received the standard state health education curriculum, which included approximately three hours focusing on social skill development and bullying prevention per year.

As part of a self-administered survey, students were asked how often they were bullied, how often they bullied, whether they told someone if they were bullied, and whether they saw a student their age of younger being bullied.  The reference group for all questions was last term. Students were assessed at baseline, at the beginning of fourth grade, at the end of fourth grade (posttest 1), at the end of fifth grade (posttest2), and one year after the end of the intervention, at the end of sixth grade.

At baseline, the comparison and intervention groups had some differences. Students in the intervention group were less likely to attend small schools (mean of 659 students compared with 633 students) and have a parent with university education (14 percent compared with 24 percent) than students in the intervention group. In addition, students in the intervention group were more likely to have seen another student their age or younger bullied than students in the comparison group (49 percent compared with 43 percent). Analyses did not control for these differences.

Results:

Being Bullied

At the end of fourth grade, students in the intervention group were less likely to have been bullied at all in the past term than those in the comparison group. However, there was no significant difference between the two groups when looking at being bullied regularly. At the end of fifth grade, no significant differences existed between the two groups with regards to being bullied.  In sixth grade, one year after the intervention, there was no difference between the two groups when looking at being bullied at all.  Students in the intervention group, though, were less likely to be bullied regularly than students in the comparison group.

Bullying Other Students

Students in the intervention and control groups reported bullying other students at similar rates.

Telling Someone When Bullied

Students in the intervention group were more likely to tell someone when they were bullied than students in the comparison group in fourth and fifth grade. No significant differences existed in sixth grade.

Seeing Someone Being Bullied

Students in the intervention group were less likely to see someone else their age or younger being bullied in fourth, fifth, and sixth grades.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

Website: For a revised version of the program, see http://www.friendlyschools.com.au/.

References:

Cross, D., Monks, H., Hall, M., Shaw, T., Pintabona, Y., Erceg, E., Hamilton, G., Roberts, C., Waters, S., & Lester, L. (2011). Three-year results of the Friendly Schools whole-of-school intervention on children’s bullying behavior. British educational Research Journal, 37(1), 105-129.

KEYWORDS: Children (3-11), Elementary, Males and Females (Co-ed), School-based, Skills Training, Parent or Family Component, Bullying

Program information last updated on 6/5/13

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