Western Australian schools are increasingly recognising the need to address bullying. However, while many schools have engaged in efforts to address bullying, communication with schools suggests that many are unsure of what action to take or whether strategies that have been implemented are appropriate. Indeed, systematic professional development to support schools in addressing the issue of bullying is currently limited in Western Australia. It was within this context that the need for a document to guide schools and professionals in the development of school-based bullying interventions was recognised.
This project aimed to determine and conduct a feasibility trial of current best practice in bullying prevention and reduction in primary schools throughout WA, Australia and other countries (particularly the UK, Norway, New Zealand and the USA). By developing a set of successful practice principles for the prevention, reduction and management of bullying in schools, the project could then distribute the principles in a practical resource for schools.
The specific strategy objectives were to:
- Establish an advisory committee comprising individuals interested and experienced key in the areas of managing student behaviour, bullying prevention and mental health education, to develop the criteria to help determine best practice in this area;
- Consult, using telephone and face-to-face interviews, with rural and metropolitan primary school teachers, allied health staff (especially school nurses) and administrators, to collect current practices in bullying prevention and reduction;
- Conduct an extensive literature and materials review of current empirically tested practices in Australia and other countries (particularly the UK, Norway, New Zealand and the USA);
- Compile a ‘best practice guide’ using a Delphi technique with identified bully prevention and reduction experts;
- Conduct 80 interviews to develop case studies that operationalise the successful practice principles.
- Collate and trial a manual of comprehensive whole-of-school best practice including suggested activities for policy and procedures, parent and other community involvement, staff professional development and cross-learning area curriculum activities; and
- Develop, disseminate and trial the ‘best practice guide’ to determine its usefulness for whole school and classroom bullying prevention and reduction interventions.
The successful practice principles developed in this study provide a synthesis of current national and international opinion and a framework for developing and implementing programs to prevent, reduce and manage bullying. Other key outcomes of the project include the development of a resource for schools that operationalise the successful practice principles and provides examples of current school practice.
Benefits of the research was the:
- Provision of successful practice model and resource which may be utilised statewide, nationally and internationally in the development of bullying interventions, at both the school and research levels.
- Establishment of criteria by which to assess school-based bullying intervention programs
- Use of the Health Promoting Schools framework to help schools assess current action and needs in regard to bullying prevention, reduction and management across the whole-school environment.
- Synthesis of international approaches to the prevention, reduction and management of bullying.
Professor Donna Cross
Dr Greg Hamilton
Associate Professor Marg Hall