Olweus Bullying Prevention Programs

As mentioned in the last post from the Dear Colleague letter, bullying prevention programs have some significant positive effects. Therefore, I wanted to post some of the research behind this claim, and provide an example of one of these programs.

In terms of documentation that bullying prevention programs have somewhat positive effects, Merrell, Gueldner, Ross, & Isava (2008) conducted a meta-analysis and found that across 16 included quality studies, there is SOME evidence that these programs have positive effects. Their “results lead us to conclude—somewhat tentatively—that there is some evidence supporting the effectiveness of school bullying interventions in enhancing students social competence, self-esteem, and peer acceptance; in enhancing teachers knowledge of effective practices, feelings of efficacy regarding intervention skills, and actual behavior in responding to incidences of bullying at school; and, to a lesser extent, in reducing participation by students in bully and victim roles” (Merrell et al., 2008, p. 38). However, many of the effects were weak, and may not be clinically significant. Further research is needed, especially in specifically impacting bullying behaviors.

One example of a bullying prevention program that is commonly used and well-known is the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, which comes out of Clemson University, and has been used and evaluated at all grade levels. According to their website (http://www.clemson.edu/olweus/index.html), “the program’s goals are to reduce and prevent bullying problems among schoolchildren and to improve peer relations at school. The program has been found to reduce bullying among students, improve the social climate of classrooms, and reduce related antisocial behaviors, such as vandalism and truancy. The Olweus Program has been implemented in more than a dozen countries around the world, and in thousands of schools in the United States.” Training in the Olweus method involves a 2-day training by a certified trainer, and repeated trainings occur every year. However, this program is rather expensive (up to $3000 + travel costs and ongoing consultation fees as needed), unless you pay to have your own trainer certified.

A link to current trainers in Ohio is available at: http://www.clemson.edu/olweus/trainers/Ohio.pdf. For other states, you can select your state from the dropdown at http://www.clemson.edu/olweus/trainers.html.



Merrell, K. W., Gueldner, B. A., Ross, S. W., & Isava, D. M. (2008). How effective are school bullying intervention programs? A meta-analysis of intervention research. School psychology quarterly, 23(1), 26.


Bullying EBIs – Enclosure to OSERS Dear Colleague Letter

In August 2013, the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)/ the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) released a “Dear Colleague” letter to address bullying of all students in schools. This letter is available in full at http://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/bullyingdcl-8-20-13.pdf. However, below I will summarize what are, in my opinion, the most important parts for educators. In addition, the “Enclosure”attached with this letter, available at http://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/bullyingdcl-8-20-13.pdf, is a great resource regarding EBIs related to bullying, as it is descriptive and straight from the government.

Important takeaways from the “Dear Colleague” Letter:

  • Bullying is not an “ordinary part of growing up” and cannot be tolerated, it must be addressed immediately.
  • Bullying is associated with a wide variety of negative outcomes, including low academic achievement, higher truancy rates, poor relationships, and depression.
  • Students with disabilities are more likely to be a target of bullying
  • Any bullying of a student with a disability that affects their FAPE must be remedied, regardless of if it is due to their disability or not. Any changes to their placement must be made in accordance with their IEP team.
  • If the student doing the bullying is an individual on an IEP, the team must meet to determine if additional supports or environmental changes are needed.
  • Consider re-evaluating your district policies if needed.

Enclosure Notes:

  • There is no one-size-fits-all approach/solution to bullying, but it is part of a system-wide multi-tiered framework, including a process of setting clear expectations for behavior and supporting the positives, as well as data-based decision making.
  • School bullying prevention programs have a large body of evidence.
  • The PBIS framework is specifically mentioned as a recommended practice
  • The other recommendations described in this document are:
    • Teaching appropriate behaviors and how to respond to bullying
    • Active adult supervision
    • Ongoing and sustained student and staff training
    • Clear policies and procedures
    • Monitoring and tracking of bullying
    • Parent notification
    • Addressing ongoing concerns
  • Resources are also listed at the end of this document


Measuring Bullying: Assessment Compendium

The CDC’s Compendium of Assessment Tools (cited below) is a great resource if you are looking to assess bullying victimization, perpetration, and bystander experiences. It includes bully-only scales, victim-only scales, combinations of both, and bully, victim, AND bystander scales. Each scale is included in the compendium guide, along with guidelines and scoring instructions.

Bully Measures:

  • Aggression Scale (11 items)
  • Bullying-Behavior Scale (6 items)
  • Children’s Social Behavior Scale – Self Report (15 items)
  • Modified Aggression Scale (9 items)

Victim Measures:

  • Gatehouse Bullying Scale (12 items)
  • Multidimensional Peer-Victimization Scale (16 items)
  • “My Life in School” Checklist (40 items)
  • Perception of Teasing Scale (22 items)
  • Peer Victimization Scale (6 items)
  • Retrospective Bullying Questionnaire (44 items)
  • Victimization Scale (10 items)
  • Weight-Based Teasing Scale (5 items)

Bully and Victim Scales

  • AAUW Sexual Harrassment Survey (14)
  • Adolescent Peer Relations Instrument (36)
  • Child Social Behavior Questionnaire (24)
  • Homophobic Content Agent Target Scale (10)
  • Illinois Bully Scale (18)
  • Introducing My Classmates (8)
  • Modified Peer Nomination Inventory (26)
  • Olweus Bullying Questionnaire (39)
  • Peer Interactions in Primary School Questionnaire (22)
  • Reduced Aggression/Victimization Scale (11)
  • School Life Survey (24)
  • School Relationships Questionnaire (20)
  • Setting the Record Straight (30)

Bystander, Bully, and/or Victim Scales

  • Bully Survey
  • Cyberbullying and Online Aggression Survey (52)
  • Cyber-Harrassment Student Survey (15)
  • Exposure to Violence and Violent Behavior Checklist (135)
  • GLSEN National School Climate Survey (68)
  • Participant Role Questionnaire (15)
  • Peer Estimated Conflict Behavior Inventory
  • Student School Survey (70)

Hamburger, M. E., Basile, K. C., & Vivolo, A. M. (2011). Measuring bullying victimization, perpetration, and bystander experiences: A compendium of assessment tools. Center for Disease Control and Prevention: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control – Division of Violence Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/bullycompendium-a.pdf.


StopBullying.Gov (http://www.stopbullying.gov/) is the United States government’s response to bullying, complete with a variety of resources on the topic. This should arguably be one of your first stops if you are looking to find resources on bullying intervention and prevention.

It includes an online training course in bullying prevention, tips for how to talk about bullying, information about those at risk, tips for prevention, tips on how to respond, and much more.

Specifically, I found the section on “how to respond to bullying” very valuable and a simple list of do’s and don’ts.


  • Intervene immediately. It is ok to get another adult to help.
  • Separate the kids involved.
  • Make sure everyone is safe.
  • Meet any immediate medical or mental health needs.
  • Stay calm. Reassure the kids involved, including bystanders.
  • Model respectful behavior when you intervene.


  • Don’t ignore it. Don’t think kids can work it out without adult help.
  • Don’t immediately try to sort out the facts.
  • Don’t force other kids to say publicly what they saw.
  • Don’t question the children involved in front of other kids.
  • Don’t talk to the kids involved together, only separately.
  • Don’t make the kids involved apologize or patch up relations on the spot.


Bullying FactSheets – CDC & DOE

To begin the bullying section, I believe that the following FactSheet from the Center for Disease Control is a valuable resource. It includes:

  • Why bullying is such a major issue
  • Characteristics of individuals at-risk for bullying (e.g. harsh parenting for bullies, low self-esteem for the bullied)
  • Prevention tips

Lastly, their model of prevention is:

  1. Define and monitor the problem
  2. Identify risk and protective factors (a specialty of school psychologists!)
  3. Develop and test prevention strategies
  4. Ensure widespread adoption


Another FactSheet is from the U.S. Department of Education, regarding Public Schools’ obligations regarding bullying. Highlights include:

  • “If a student with a disability is being bullied, federal law requires schools to take immediate and appropriate action to investigate the issue and, as necessary, take steps to stop the bullying and prevent it from recurring.”
  • Any remedy should not burden the student who has been bullied
  • We must work to maintain FAPE and add additional services if it is violated
  • Tips for parents for how to proceed

Future posts under this topic will get more into specific prevention programs, but these are a place to begin for quick reference.

These FactSheets are available at: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/bullying_factsheet.pdf