The largest study of bullying prevention in U.S. schools reveals positive impact

Researchers at Clemson and the University of Bergen in Norway recently published positive findings from the largest study of bullying prevention efforts in U.S. schools. In the three-year study, the researchers evaluated nearly 70,000 students across 210 elementary, middle and high schools who had participated in the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.

They found clear reductions in student reports of being bullied and bullying others. Clemson’s Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life is the training and consultation hub for the Olewus program in North, Central and South America.

According to Sue Limber, Clemson professor and author of the study, the results were stronger the longer the program was in place: “It’s encouraging to see that despite some more ingrained behaviors in older students, we still see quite positive responses in later grades.”

The study also found increases in students’ expressions of empathy and decreases in students’ willingness to join in bullying. The success of the program is encouraging for students and schools, according to Dan Olweus, author of the study and founder of the Olwus program.

“This study clearly shows bullying prevention efforts can positively affect behaviors and perceptions of students of all ages,” said Olweus. “Given the scarcity of positive results from anti-bullying programs in the U.S., this new study is a breakthrough.”

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