The Effectiveness of Olweus Intervention Strategy in Reducing Bullying

TheEffectiveness of Olweus Intervention Strategy in Reducing Bullying inMiddle Schools

TheEffectiveness of Olweus Intervention Strategy in Reducing Bullying inMiddle Schools

Bullyingis one of the most common aggressive behaviors in middle schools, inwhich students who are perceived to be repeatedly humiliated,exclude, or attack those who are relatively weaker. Similar to otherclinical and social problems, bullying has undergone evolution andnow includes verbal aggression, and cyber aggression. Althoughprevalence rates of bullying vary significantly depending onfunctions used to measure aggression, most of the available researchindicates that prevalence ranges between 10-30 % (Cook, Williams,Guerra, Kim &amp Sadek, 2010). The prevalence of bullying in middleschool is higher compared to other levels of academic because most ofthe middle school students are adolescents. There are differentinterventions that can be used to prevent bullying in middle schools,but a comprehensive approach (such as Olweus intervention program)can resolve a school wide problem of bullying. This paper willaddress the importance of using research to advance the profession ofcounseling, analyze a group of articles on the same topic, summarizethe state of research on the topic, cultural implications, andestablish trends in the present review.

Theimportance of using research to advance the profession of counseling

Providingtherapy and counseling solutions using the evidence-based researchare one of the key resource development tools in the field ofcounseling. Conducting research and applying evidence-based researchbenefits the field of counseling in two major ways. First, researchenhances the counselors’ ability to adhere to the code of ethicsset to guide the entire profession (Hoskins &amp Thompson, 2009). This is consistent with the ACA code of ethics, which states that allcounselors have a primary responsibility to provide counselingpractices that are founded on rigorous research methods. Secondly,research enhances economic survival of professional counselors andthe entire profession of counseling. This is because the use of themost appropriate research-based methodologies to assist clientsenhances patient satisfaction, counselor effectiveness, andsatisfaction of the third party insurer. This increases the value ofthe counseling profession.

Thereare four major research methodologies that counselors can use toadvance the counseling profession. First, the use of quantitativeresearch design can help counselors in making informed decisions,providing statistical guidance, and hard facts (Creswell, 2004). Thisis accomplished by using empirical techniques to investigate socialissues via mathematical, numerical data, or statistical techniques.Qualitative design is a methodology that facilitates an in-depthinvestigation of human behavior as well as factors that govern thebehavior under investigation (Creswell, 2004). Researchers using thequalitative methodology apply different inquiries, includingphenomenology, ethnography, narrative, case study, of groundedtheory. Researchers who adopt a mixed method base their claims onpragmatic grounds (Creswell, 2004). The mixed methods approachcombines the features of qualitative and quantitative approaches.Program evaluation is a research approach used to collect and analyzeinformation to assess the effectiveness of a given program. Theprimary objective of evaluating a program is to determine whether itis achieving the intended effect. Mixed methods approach has morebenefits than a single method approach. Some of the benefits of mixedmethods approach include the capacity to expand the project into abroader perspective, reduce the chances for the occurrence ofpersonal bias, and an opportunity to collect more data.

Groupingof the articles

Thethree articles that used qualitative method include “Predictors ofbullying and victimization in childhood and adolescence: ameta-analytic investigation” written by Clayton Cook, KirkWilliams, Nancy Guerra, Tia Kim, and Shelly Sadek “How effectiveare school bullying intervention programs? A meta-analysis ofintervention research” authored by Keneth Merrell and others“Evaluation of the Olweus bullying prevention program: how theprogram can work for inner city youth” written by Sally Black.Articles that are based on quantitative method include “theimplementation of a statewide bullying prevention program:preliminary findings from the field and the importance of coalition”authored by Betsy Schroeder, Allison Messina, Karla Good, ShirylBarto, and Mathew Masiello “the effectiveness of whole-schoolanti-bullying programs: a synthesis of evaluation research” writtenby David Smith and Barry Schneider “Examination of the efficacy ofthe Olweus prevention program in reducing bullying: the Malaysianexperience” authored by Noran Yaakub, Fatimah Haron, and Goh Leong.The present study included one program evaluation research that is“Bullying is a school: An evaluation and dissemination of theOlweus bullying prevention program” written by Dan Olweus and SusanLimber. Only one of the articles considered in the present study isan action research that is “The evaluation of community-schoolbullying prevention programs: Enabling participatory action research”authored by Raymond Lorion.

Findingsof the article

Merrel,Gueldner, Ross &amp Isava (2008) conducted a metal-analysis, whichis a qualitative approach to investigate the effectiveness of thebullying prevention program. The researchers found that thecounseling-based interventions are more effective in reducingbullying in schools compared to the formulation of policy. Based onthese findings, the authors generate the knowledge that counseling isthe most appropriate way of preventing bullying. Black (2007)conducted an on-site observation and found that the perception thatbullying prevention programs compete with academic time hinders theimplementation of these programs. The qualitative method allowed theresearch to identify issues underlying the implementation of theOlweus prevention program, which had not been projected prior to theresearch. The authors of the article “Predictors of bullying andvictimization in childhood and adolescence: a meta-analyticinvestigation” conducted a meta-analysis, which is a qualitativeapproach, to determine the key factors that predict bullying. Cook,Williams, Guerra, Kim &amp Sadek (2010) identified that bullying ispredicted by contextual characteristics of a given setting andindividual characteristics of students.

Schroederetal.,(2011) conducted a survey (quantitative) to determine somequantifiable change that was achieved following the implementation ofthe Olweus prevention program in schools. The researcher identifiedthat there was a positive change where the rate of stronger studentsbullying others reduced with time. Smith etal.,(2004) reported that a monitored implementation of a preventionprogram is more effective than unmonitored implementing. In thisarticle, Smith &amp Schneider (2004) obtained quantitative data onvictimization and bullying, which indicated that the Olweusprevention program is more effective in middle schools than insecondary schools. Yaakub, Haron, Leong (2010) conducted a survey,which is a quantitative method of data collection, to investigate theefficacy of the Olweus program using a total of 3816 students. Theresearchers identified that all forms of bullying (including verbal,physical, and relational) increased steadily in all schools.

Ttofi&amp Farrington (2010) conducted a systematic review that examinedboth the quantitative and qualitative evidence pertaining to theeffectiveness of school-based anti-bullying programs in reducingharassment. The authors also used meta-analytic technique, which is aqualitative technique. The authors reported that a successfulimplementation of anti-bullying interventions decreased the rate ofvictimization. Lorion (2004) conducted an action research with theobjective of engaging the school community in the prevention ofbullying. The action research provided an opportunity to the WestHope School District community to take part in preventing bullying inlocal schools.


Schroeder,et al.(2007) relied on descriptive statistics (including the percentiles)to analyze the data. Smith etal.,(2004) used descriptive statistics (including percentile) andinferential statistics (including the Chi Square) to analyze thedata. Data analysis was accomplished using MetaWin 2.0, which is asoftware packaged used to analyze data. Yaakub, Haron &amp Leong(2010) conducted a Cronbach test to determine the reliability of theresearch instruments.

Marrell,etal.,(2008) used a meta-analysis technique to determine the source ofvariability of the prevention program. This was combined with effectsize (ES) analysis, which was used to assess the mean scoredifferences. Black (2007) used BVQ software to analyze coded datawhere the frequency of bullying was determined. Cook etal.,(2010) used a special coding criterion that facilitated the analysisof descriptive variables. Ttofi &amp Farrington (2010) coded the keyfeatures of the program to facilitate statistical analysis. Thestatistical part of data analysis was conducted using a randomizedeffects model, logarithm of OR (LOR), and standardized meandifference.

Usingarticles to inform evidence-based practice

Evidence-basedpractice is based on the notion that practical decisions should befounded on research studies and the selected research studies shouldbe interpreted on the basis of some norms of evidence-basedpractices. This implies that research studies that qualify for usagein evidence based practice should be quantitative, while qualitativeand theoretical studies are disregarded. Similarly, only fourarticles selected in the present study can be used to informevidence-based practice because they were conducted usingquantitative methodology. First, the article “The implementation ofa statewide bullying prevention program: Preliminary findings fromthe field and the importance of coalition” written by Schroeder etal.,(2011) informs that a successful implementation of a bullyingprevention program requires the concerted efforts of teachers andparents. In addition, the implementation of evidence based programrequires significant communication and planning between trainers,schools, evaluators, and coordinators.

Secondly,the findings reported by Smith etal.,(2004) in the article “The effectiveness of whole-schoolanti-bullying programs: a synthesis of evaluation research”suggests that the evidence-based practice intended to preventbullying and victimization in middle schools should focus on thewhole-school prevention programs without excluding other modalities.In addition, school psychologists should make proactive decisions andimplement interventions that have been carefully evaluated. Thisimplies that the school psychologists should screen empiricallyproven interventions and use them to prevent the occurrence ofbullying in schools.

Third,the findings reported by Yaakub, Haron &amp Leong (2010) in thearticle Examining the efficacy of the Olweus prevention program inreducing bullying: the Malaysian experience” suggests that thebullying prevention programs are more effective in the all girlsschools than in boys and mixed schools. However, this differenceresulted from the approach used to inform students about bullying andreasons to avoid. For example, the girls` schools used such terms as“love your neighbor” while the boys` schools direct terms such as“anti-bullying policy”. This means that, although theinterventions are meant to reduce bullying in schools, their practiceshould take softer and friendlier approaches.

Fourth,a systematic and meta-analytic review conducted by Ttofi &ampFarrington (2010) indicated that practitioners and policy makersshould use evidence-based programs that are of high quality and havebeen proven to be effective. For example, the findings reported byTtofi &amp Farrington (2010) gave evidence that intensive programsthat including firm disciplinary methods, playground supervision, andparent meetings are more effective compared to less intensiveprograms. However, the implementation of work with peer programshould be avoided because it increases victimization instead ofreducing bullying in schools. Moreover, the implementation of newinterventions should be motivated by existing programs that have beenempirically proven to be effective, but modified in light of theelements of the most effective programs.

of the state of research

Researchfocusing on prevention of bullying has been increasing with timefollowing a rise in cases of bullying, especially in middle schoolswhere most of the students are adolescents. Before the nineteennineties, researchers addressed the issue of bullying in schools witha perception that it was a social as well as a clinical challenge(Cook etal.,2010). Researchers addressed bullying in combination with other formsof aggression. However, researchers have shifted their emphasis forschool-based programs towards an increase in the understanding aswell as prevention of specific forms of aggression, such as bullying.This implies that researchers are interested in addressing specificelements of individual forms of aggression among students. Apart fromdistinguishing bullying from other forms of aggression, researchershave identified elements of the subgroups of bullying (includingcyber, verbal, and relational forms of bullying) (Cook etal.,2010). This shows that researchers are currently interested inunderstanding the underlying causes of bullying, which will help indesigning interventions that address elements of each form ofbullying.

Althoughevidence-based practices were initially meant for clinical andmedical interventions, present researchers in the field psychology(including those who are focusing on bullying) are now usingevidence-based practice to address psychosocial issues. Similarly,the need for integrated evidence-based practices in resolving theissue of bullying in middle schools has been increasingexponentially. For example, Schroeder etal.,(2010) asserts that the most appropriate way of preventing bullyingis to bring evidence-based and effective prevention strategies toschools and the school communities. Similarly, Smith etal.,(2004) intended to search for evidence that can prove the efficacy ofthe whole-school bullying prevention intervention. This implies thatthe main issue of interest to researchers is evidence of theeffectiveness of any potential bullying prevention strategy. Currentresearchers have also set precedence for future researchers andpractitioners who should apply evidence-based practices to addressthe issue of bullying.

Culturalimplications and limitations of bullying

Bullyingaffects the majority if not all communities. There exist somesimilarities and differences in the way different communitiesperceive the issue of bullying and interventions adopted to preventit. Some communities see bullying as a personal matter while othersview it from a wider perspective in terms of its effect on school,organization, neighborhood, and the whole community. There are twomajor similarities of bullying in different communities. First,bullying starts in elementary school, especially in the upper gradeand intensifies in middle schools (Sugimori, 2013). This suggeststhat bullying begins when children start sensing the atmosphere intheir peer groups. Although the type of bullying may differ invarious communities, they occur at relatively the same age. Secondly,name-calling is a common type of bullying throughout the world. Themain difference is the structure in which bullying occurs in variouscommunities. For example, bullying takes the form of a four-tieredstructure (comprising of bullies, spectators, victims, andindifferent bystanders) in the Asian communities and pecking-order(based on hierarchies) among the western communities (Sugimori,2013). The existence of differences in the occurrence of bullying indifferent cultural groups limits the generalization of researchevidence and uniform application of prevention interventions. This isbecause different interventions have to be designed to addressspecific elements of bullying in different communities.

Bullyingis an unethical practice that can lead to low academic achievement,loss of self esteem, self-harm, post-traumatic stress, anddeterioration in physical health. Although bullying is a commonplaceproblem, there are no federal laws that are formulated tospecifically address it, but victims are forced to make their claimsunder civil rights legislations (Roalson, 2012). This limits thecapacity of schools and other stakeholders in the education sector toaddress the ever thriving form of aggression, bullying. This isbecause the interventions designed by researchers and practitionersare rarely informed by legal provisions. Although laws in manyjurisdictions have defined bullying, there is a need for them to goahead and create a framework for deterring the practice.

Trendsin the present review

Itis evident that researchers are now focusing on evidence-basedpractices where empirical research is being used to inform real lifepractice. This implies that the bullying prevention strategy designedusing evidence from empirical research is more successful thaninterventions formulated using theoretical knowledge. Consequently,researchers are increasingly adopting a quantitative methodology ormixed research approaches, which have the capacity to provideempirical evidence. For example, four of the articles reviewed in thepresent study are based on qualitative or mixed methods of research.However, articles on mixed methods are few and difficult to find. Inaddition, researchers are becoming interested in narrowing down theirresearch work from the broader issue of aggression to subtypes ofbullying.

Thepresent study recommends a future research that will identify the keypredictors of bullying, especially in middle schools. This is becausethe ability of educators and other stakeholders in the educationsector to foresee the probability of the occurrence of bullying andvictimization will help in the adoption of prevention measures at anearly stage. The mixed methods will be the most appropriate approachbecause it will result to a collection of more data and address theissue in a broader perspective. In addition, mixed methods approachwill provide empirical evidence, which will contribute towards theevidence-based practice in the prevention of bullying.


Thecourse has been interesting and rich in information that isapplicable in real life situations. One of the major lessons learnedfrom the course is the importance of applying research in practicalsituations. This is consistent with the established trends whereresearchers and practitioners are focusing on evidence-basedpractices. This suggests that the course content is up-to-date, whichhas been a major source of motivation to undertake the course. Inaddition, the warm relationship between the lecturer and studentsmade the course endearing and its content easy to understand.Moreover, the support given by fellow students increased theunderstanding of the course content and the ability to view the fieldof counseling in a broader perspective. Although comprehending thetheoretical part of the course content has been easy, practicing thelearned concepts seems to be challenging. This is because thecounseling concepts gained from the course are not all matchingideas. This implies that different situations require the use ofdifferent counseling strategies, which should be selected by thecounselor. This means that the completion of the course is not theend, but a mean to an end. In essence, the course provided adequatepreparation for practicing counseling in practical situations.

Althoughthere seem to be some difficulties in putting the theoreticalconcepts into practice, it is evident that the course wascomprehensive and addressed the key issues that a student undertakinga course in counseling should know before practicing. The courseprovided an opportunity for learners to get a clue of what to expectin the field and current issues in the field of counseling. Forexample, the emphasis placed by the course on the importance ofapplying research on evidence-based practice is one of the currenttrends that counseling students should anticipate. After completingthe course, I am well prepared to apply research in practice as aprofessional counselor.


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Creswell,W. (2004). Research design: Qualitative,quantitative, and mixed methods approach.London: Sage Publications.

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Merrell,W., Gueldner, A., Ross, W., &amp Isava, M. (2008). How effective areschool bullying intervention program? A meta-analysis of interventionresearch. SchoolPsychology Quarterly,23 (1), 26-42. DOI: 10.1037/1045-3830.23.1.26

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