To evaluate the effects of an antibullying school intervention in elementary schools.
Two-year follow-up randomized intervention group–control group.
Forty-seven elementary schools in the Netherlands.
Three thousand eight hundred sixteen children aged 9 to 12 years.
During the first study year, an antibullying school program was implemented in the schools in the intervention group.
Main Outcome Measures
A questionnaire measuring bullying behavior, depression, psychosomatic complaints, delinquent behavior, and satisfaction with school life and peer relationships was filled out by the students at 3 times to obtain the following data: a baseline measurement, a first-effect measurement at the end of the first year, and a second-effect measurement at the end of the second year.
The number of bullied children decreased by 25% in the intervention group compared with the control group (relative risk, 0.75; 95% confidence interval, 0.57-0.98). The intervention group also showed a decline in the scale scores of victimization (−1.06 vs 0.28; P<.01) and active bullying behaviors (−0.47 vs 0.12, P<.05). Self-reported peer relationships also improved in the intervention schools (0.48 vs 0.11; P<.05), and there was a trend for a decrease in reported depression in the intervention schools (−0.33 vs −0.10; P<.10). At follow-up, there were no differences between the intervention and control groups for the outcome measures. Schools had also lowered their antibullying activities during the second study year.
An antibullying school policy can reduce bullying behavior. To keep bullying at a consistently low level, schools must continue antibullying measures every year. Continued counseling may help schools in their efforts to establish a lasting antibullying policy.