Despite the extensive evaluation of school-based interventions for bullying, victimization remains a significant problem in schools. Bullying victimization is significantly predicted by contextual (school-related) factors. As a consequence whole-school programs have been commonly used to prevent and reduce bullying victimization. Evidence also points to individual risk factors (such as emotional distress) in predicting victimization, yet programs to prevent bullying victimization by changing these individual risks are far less developed. Few studies have approximated “real-world” implementation conditions in their trials. The current effectiveness trial evaluated the combination of a whole-school program designed to prevent bullying perpetration and victimization together with a targeted intervention for at-risk students, teaching them individual and dyadic strategies to reduce their anxiety and manage victimization, allowing schools some latitude to implement programs as they typically would. Students from Grades 3 and 4 (N = 8,732) across 135 schools were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: combined intervention; whole-school intervention only; individual intervention only; and care as usual. Victimization decreased significantly and similarly across all four conditions at 12 and 24 months following baseline. Similar reductions and failure to discriminate conditions were found on other key constructs: anxiety; bullying perpetration; and depression. Possible reasons for the failure to demonstrate victimization prevention differences and lessons learned from this large, effectiveness trial are considered.
- randomized control trial