The effectiveness of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program in public middle schools: a controlled trial

J Adolesc Health. 2007 Mar;40(3):266-74. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2006.10.005. Epub 2007 Jan 24.


Purpose: To examine the effectiveness of a widely disseminated bullying prevention program.

Methods: A nonrandomized controlled trial with 10 public middle schools (7 intervention and 3 control) was conducted. Student-reported relational (e.g., spreading rumors, social exclusion) and physical victimization, and whether the program improved student attitudes and perceptions toward bullying were assessed pre- and post-implementation using available school survey data.

Results: Regression analyses controlling for baseline prevalence and school characteristics showed no overall effect on student victimization. However, when stratified by ethnicity/race, reports of relational and physical victimization decreased by 28% (RR = .72, 95% CI: .53-.98) and 37% (RR = .63, 95% CI: .42-.97), respectively, among white students relative to those in comparison schools. No similar effect was found for students of other races/ethnicities; there were no differences by gender or by grade. Students in intervention schools were more likely to perceive other students as actively intervening in bullying incidents, and 6th graders were more likely to feel sorry and want to help victims.

Conclusions: The program had some mixed positive effects varying by gender, ethnicity/race, and grade but no overall effect. Schools implementing the program, especially with a heterogeneous student body, should monitor outcomes and pay particular attention to the impact of culture, race and family influences on student behavior. Future studies of large-scale bullying prevention programs in the community must be rigorously evaluated to ensure they are effective.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Aggression*
  • Child
  • Crime Victims
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Program Evaluation
  • School Health Services*
  • Students
  • Violence / prevention & control*
  • Washington