Childhood bullying: Time to stop

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Schwartz, C., Yung, D., Barican, J., Gray-Grant, D., & Waddell, C. (2021). Childhood bullying: Time to stop. Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly, 15(4), 1–16. Vancouver, BC: Children’s Health Policy Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University.

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Background: Childhood bullying can lead to serious consequences, including subsequent mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and suicidality. We therefore set out to identify if there were any effective antibullying programs.

Methods: We used systematic review methods to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating antibullying programs for children. After applying our rigorous inclusion criteria, we accepted eight RCTs – evaluating six school-based programs and two clinic-based interventions.

Results: Four school-based programs – Youth Matters, Roots of Empathy, Bullies and Dolls, and Media Heroes – were successful at reducing at least one form of bullying. Integrative Family Therapy, a clinical intervention, was also effective at reducing bullying by teenage boys.

Conclusions: There are effective antibullying interventions that can be delivered in elementary, middle and secondary schools. So programs can start early, reaching more children to prevent the harms that come with bullying. Additionally, some young people may benefit from the help of a mental health practitioner to address bullying and other aggressive behaviours.

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