Overview

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Bullying Prevention

The Colorado Trust's Bullying Prevention initiative helped schools and community-based organizations to prevent bullying and bullying-related behaviors.

National research shows the effects of bullying can last a lifetime. Victims have an increased chance of academic failure and health problems, low self-esteem and inability to connect socially.

There are long-term implications for bullies as well. Research shows that youths who bully typically have a criminal record by age 24.

Bullying has become such a serious problem that 19 states, including Colorado, have anti-bullying laws.

The Bullying Prevention initiative revealed higher academic achievement schoolwide when students and teachers are willing to intervene in bullying behavior, and when students perceive trusting, accepting and caring relationships between themselves and their teachers.

The 45 grantees estimate they reached 50,000 young people and adults in 40 Colorado counties through the initiative. Subtle and overt bullying activities include intentional exclusion of targeted youths in activities, gossiping meanly about others, unprovoked physical and verbal attacks and using the Internet to anonymously and repeatedly harass others. The development of new programs and the expansion of existing bullying prevention programs provided both youth and adults with the opportunity to learn how to effectively intervene and prevent bullying activities

A result of this statewide effort from the participating rural, suburban and urban schools and youth-serving organizations is the online Bullying Prevention Resource Guide.

Evaluation
The Colorado Trust asked Cadre Colorado, in collaboration with JVA Consulting, to find out whether beliefs and behavior about bullying changed over time in schools and community-based organizations funded by the Bullying Prevention Initiative.

Evaluation findings showed that bullying in funded schools and community-based organizations was prevalent during the initiative's first year – particularly in middle schools – but declined over the three-year period.

Year one findings show that the majority of students in fifth through 12th grades experienced bullying – physical, verbal or Internet/cyberbullying. And students from elementary through high school reported that they had bullied others that year. Yet the findings also show that schools and youth centers can reduce bullying over time.

The evaluation included:
  • Surveys of over 3,000 students and 1,500 adults
  • Case studies of four school programs
  • Focus groups with staff and students
  • Analysis of demographic and school achievement data.

Bullying decreased when adults and students were willing to:

  • Intervene
  • Treat each other fairly
  • Show they care.

Students reported less bullying when they:

  • Felt a sense of belonging in school
  • Trusted teachers and other adults
  • Saw the school responding to their needs.

Link to Student Achievement
The findings also show that schools with lower levels of bullying reported higher scores on the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) in reading, writing and math.

We don't know whether low-achieving schools provided a favorable environment for bullying, or if bullying interfered with learning and achievement. Evaluators say that both are likely true.

Call to Action
These findings matter for all of us because the negative effects of bullying can last a lifetime.

The findings suggest that bullying prevention programs should begin during elementary school when behavior is emerging. Bullying prevention and intervention efforts should be stepped up in middle and high school, with extra emphasis on verbal bullying.

Survey instruments used for the Bullying Prevention initiative evaluation:
Staff Survey
Student Survey
Student Survey (Spanish)

Contact
Kirk R. Williams, PhD, Cadre Colorado, LLC, 951-827-4363

Coordinating Agency
Luke Yoder, Project Coordinator, Bullying Prevention Initiative, The Partnership for Families & Children, 303-837-8466 x110

Grantees

Learn more about each grantee.

GRANT TIMEFRAME: 2005-2009
GRANT AMOUNT: $9,000,000
CONTACT: GAY COOK