Concerned about the adverse effects of bullying and victimization, school districts in the United States, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand have taken a strong stance against aggression and bullying. A recent review of the efficacy of bullying prevention programs found very few controlled investigations of bullying prevention strategies (Farrington & Ttofi, 2009). Unfortunately, the lack of well-designed and rigorously-tested interventions aimed at preventing bullying and victimization (Baldry & Farrington, 2007) has limited the ability of teachers and practitioners to effectively prevent and/or reduce aggression and victimization in school settings.
Authors in this symposium present findings from group-randomized trials that were conducted to assess the effects of two theoretically-based school prevention programs: the KiVa Anti-Bullying Program in Finland and the Youth Matters Program in the US. KiVa (an acronym for Kiusaamista Vastaan, “against bullying”; Salmivalli et al., 2010) was recently developed and tested in Finland. The program, rooted in PYD principles, differs from previous interventions in both its scope and method to address bullying incidence and promote PYD. The program was tested using a group-randomized trial in which 78 elementary schools in Finland were randomly assigned to either an experimental or control condition. Multilevel Structural Equation Modeling (MSEM) was used to analyze self- and peer-report data from 7,741 students (3,685 in the control condition and 4,056 in the intervention condition). Main program effects on victimization and psychosocial outcomes are reported in Paper #1. Paper #2 extends these findings by examining the conditions under which the program achieves positive outcomes.
The Youth Matters (YM) program was tested under controlled conditions in 28 public elementary schools in the US. The study employs principles of random assignment, longitudinal data collection, and multilevel modeling to examine the effects of the intervention among students in the 4th, 5th, and 6th grades. Main effects of the trial and findings from latent class analysis that illustrate changes in patterns of bullying and victimization over the course of the three-year study are reported in the final paper. Implications from these trials for school-based bullying prevention efforts are noted.