Addressing bullying behaviour in children

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Schwartz, C., Barican, J., Waddell, C., Harrison, E., Nightingale L., & Gray-Grant, D. (2008). Addressing bullying behaviour in children (fall issue). Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly, 2(4), 1–20 Vancouver, BC: Children’s Health Policy Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University.

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Background: When bullying occurs, children pay a significant price. Those who are bullied are at risk for impaired social developmental, mental and physical illnesses and school absenteeism. Children who bully others frequently suffer from high rates of mental disorder and from learning problems. To help avoid these detrimental outcomes, interventions that can prevent bullying are greatly needed.

Methods: We used systematic review methods to identify randomized controlled trial (RCT) evaluations of anti-bullying interventions. Applying our inclusion criteria, we accepted eight RCTs evaluating seven programs.

Results: Four programs were successful in reducing bullying: Brief Strategic Family Therapy, Integrative Family Therapy, Bullies and Dolls, and Steps to Respect. The first two programs were targeted to children who were engaging in bullying  and were delivered to families in clinics. In addition to reducing bullying, they also reduced children’s anger and engagement in risky behaviours. The latter two interventions were universal preventative interventions delivered within schools.

Conclusions: These results find that adults can intervene to help end bullying by ensuring that effective interventions are employed so children’s environments are free from the fear and intimidation that bullying creates. 

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