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Strong Schools Safe Kids: Building school capacity to reduce social aggression among students

Peer aggression among young people has been hailed as a significant contributor to mental health problems with Australian school students reporting among the highest prevalence rates of aggression and bullying in OECD countries. Whilst there is much empirical research into the issue of student bullying and other socially aggressive behaviours, there exists a knowledge to practice gap in the real world actions schools take to prevent and manage these behaviours. This five year study aims to translate current research investigating ways to prevent and manage student bullying and other socially aggressive behaviours into effective, evidence-based school practice and hence is named Strong Schools Safe Kids. Through a series of in-depth case studies, this research will develop and test sustainable mechanisms that aim to build the capacity of schools, their staff, students and parents to effectively implement evidence-based actions within their local school context to improve student pastoral care support and mental health and wellbeing.

Key outcomes will include providing school leaders, teachers and other school staff with the understandings, skills and self-efficacy to review, adapt and expand existing whole school policies and practices to enhance the social, organisational (structures, processes, resources, leadership) and physical environment of their school in a way that reduces bullying and socially aggressive behaviours. It will also enhance teachers’ self-efficacy to deliver teaching and learning processes and content that builds students’ sense of safety, support and connectedness to school. Especially through school transition points and increase student access to someone within the school with whom they feel confident to openly discuss concerns, increasing their perceptions of support from school staff, parents or peers.

This study is a collaborative effort between the Child Health Promotion Research Centre, the Department of Education (WA), the WA Secondary School Principal’s Association, the WA Independent School’s Association, Catholic Education Office WA, and DEEWR to ensure the translation of the project findings into current support services provided by these organisations is relevant, feasible and cost effective. It will also seek to place WA in a unique position, building ‘leading schools’ with the capacity to change how Australian schools prevent and manage bullying and social aggression and how families create a safer, more respectful community.

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Funding Body



Professor Donna Cross
Ms Jeanette Hasleby
Ms Jayne Johnston
Mr Rob Nairn
Dr Julian Dooley
Dr Lydia Hearn
Dr Sharyn Burns
Dr Natasha Pearce

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