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What are the best ways of tackling bullying in school?

One of the most widely used anti-bullying programmes is the 'Bullying Prevention Programme' designed by Dan Olweus. There are a number of different parts to this programme including: the involvement of adults, the use of the Bully/Victim questionnaire to find out about bullying in the school, a school conference day, better supervision at break times, class rules about bullying, regular class meetings, serious talks with bullies, victims and parents of involved pupils. To succeed, it is very important for the school to have very clear limits regarding unacceptable behaviour, and to make it a positive place where caring, prosocial behaviour is encouraged and bullying is firmly discouraged. The programme has had dramatic results. Bully/victim problems were cut by at least half and general anti-social behaviour (eg truancy and vandalism) was also reduced. There were also great improvements in discipline, pupil relationships and attitudes to school work and to the school generally.
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Comment

The Olweus programme, unlike others, has been extensively evaluated in Scandinavia. This has been possible because of the high profile the issue has had there for the last 30 years. Researchers in other countries have found it difficult to attract the level of funding which would allow them to carry out such an extensive research programme. However, the Scandinavian work has inspired many similar, albeit smaller, programmes to be set up across the globe. In most cases, these have been adapted to take account of organisational and cultural differences.

The development of anti-bullying strategies is a dynamic process which has benefited hugely from international co-operation but it seems unlikely (Professor Olweus might disagree!) that any one programme will satisfy the needs of all schools in all countries.
(Andrew Mellor)

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Article details

D Olweus, S Limber and S F Mihalic 'History and Description of the Bullying Prevention Program' in 'Blueprints for Violence Prevention', The Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado at Boulder, USA. This paper can be downloaded here. Click on 'video segment' for an interesting video clip about the project.

The information in this paper was taken from D Olweus, S Limber and S F Mihalic (1999) 'Blueprints for Violence Prevention. Book Nine: Bullying Prevention Program', Boulder, CO: Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence.
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Professor Dan OlweusAuthor details

Professor Dan Olweus was the first person to carry out a thorough research project on bullying. This large, long term study which began in Sweden in 1970, was to provide the inspiration for many who felt that bullying in schools should be challenged rather than accepted. Since the 1970s, his work in this area had continued with force. Indeed, in 1997-99, he led a group in a large project which introduced the widely respected Olweus (anti-bullying) programme to schools in Norway. Professor Olweus is based at the Research Centre for Health Promotion, University of Bergen in Norway and can be contacted by email.
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