Research Shows Peer-led Anti-bullying Programs In Schools Work

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7th October 2010, 12:09pm - Views: 2186
Research Shows Peer-Led Anti-Bullying Programs in Schools Work

New research into anti-bullying initiatives in schools by Peer Support Australia shows positive results with early intervention having long-term benefits.

Peer Support Australia (PSA), which runs programs based on peer-led experiential learning from Kindergarten to Year 12, says their study on the effectiveness of their anti-bullying "Speaking Up" module definitely made a difference for participating schools, and more teachers should consider this approach.

Peer Support Australia is seeking teachers to join their one-day workshops in Hobart, (Wednesday, October 13), Perth (Thursday, October 21) and Brisbane (Tuesday, October 26).

According to Ms Sharlene Chadwick, PSA Education Manager, nearly 50% of students (Rigby & Slee 2001) report some form of bullying in school playgrounds, and a study into covert bullying by Edith Cowan University in 2009 found that years 5 and 8 were most affected.

Research shows that 58% of bullying stops when someone intervenes at the time of any incident.

"The idea is that we're working to get kids to talk about the issue before it gets to a head, with a view that bullying isn't appropriate on any level," Ms Chadwick said.

"We involve all kids in the discussion about the behaviours, and say what you do isn't what you are, but you need to know that your actions impact upon others, and take responsibility for making things right."

"The good news is that students who undertook our intervention developed friendships more easily across the year groups, became more inclusive of others and developed skills to support each other and more easily report bullying behaviours.

"Additionally, we found the Speaking Up module helped reduce incidents of bullying behaviours; changed attitudes towards bullying within the school, and provided awareness and support for the longer term benefits of an intervention program," she added.

PSA currently operates in over 1,000 schools with over 200,000 students trained annually in its programs (

"Some schools want to provide authentic leadership for their students, and sometimes, just having prefects and a school captain is not enough," Ms Chadwick added.

Clinical psychologist Dorothea Vallianos, who specialises in adolescent counselling, agrees that bullying is serious, and encouraging leadership is a step towards countering passive responses.

"Student leadership is not just about leading; it's about knowing your own strengths and weaknesses before you can lead. It's about developing your personal style of leadership," said Ms Vallianos

At the Peer Support Australia training sessions, teachers also benefit from networking with like-minded teachers with access proven materials to help build the emotional intelligence of their students.

"We look at various components as to why mental health is important, and why peer support enhances student well-being as well as how to involve parents, and whether it's the right time for the school to run the course," Ms Chadwick added.

"We give lots of ideas, and ways to use peer support groups within the school. Our feedback has been fantastic because the program is more about developing better social skills, improved relationships and not just bullying per se."

Sharlene Chadwick's research has been published as a book "They can't hurt me - a peer-led approach to Bullying" this year.

For further information, contact
Sharlene Chadwick
02-9905 3499

Julianne Dowling
media adviser
0416 208 770

Supported by
Department of Health and Ageing
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
NSW Health Department
PATRON James Dibble AM MBE

SOURCE: Peer Support Australia

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