259159 Primary prevention of school bullying: An assessment of a Bay Area elementary school

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sukhdip Purewal, MPH , Department of Health Education, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA
Rick Harvey, PhD, MS , Health Education, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA
Jana Hiraga, MPH , Youth Development Programs, YWCA of Berkeley and Oakland, Berkeley, CA
Elementary school bullying behavior has become a serious public health concern, affecting youth mentally and physically with poor outcomes extending into adulthood. Programs that are most successful at preventing bullying focus on primary prevention and involve school staff, students and parents. A Bay Area elementary school was selected to assess the existence, implementation and need for primary prevention methods to prevent bullying behavior. This study describes a model of bullying prevention practices that are currently used in Bay Area elementary schools. Twenty-three school administrators and teachers were interviewed using an open-ended questionnaire. Although several prevention techniques exist, implementation is neither consistent nor comprehensive. Only two of 17 teachers utilized bullying prevention curriculum regularly. Staff revealed varying definitions of bullying and the school did not have a standard definition in place. Furthermore, a protocol was non-existent and staff utilized different methods of discipline in response to bullying. Finally, prevention efforts rarely involved parents and children. Hindering bullying prevention practices include lack of time due to preparation for standardized testing, and pre-existing behaviors students learn from outside the classroom. Realistic and conscientious methods for preventing bullying must include a standard definition of bullying and a clear action plan for uniformity in dealing with bullying incidents. Furthermore, community efforts to involve parents and students would create awareness and cohesiveness for shared responsibility. Finally, policy reform to mandate bullying prevention curriculum would emphasize consistent implementation. Additionally, this study calls for exploration of how curricular emphasis on standardized testing limits opportunities for bullying prevention.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe what bullying prevention techniques are used and how. Evaluate whether these techniques reflect primary prevention. Identify barriers to preventing bullying behavior.

Keywords: Primary Prevention, School-Based Programs

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the principal author of this project on school bullying and am qualified on the content from conducting literature reviews and key informant interviews for the previous 4 years. I have been committed to the issue of bullying at academic institutions through various research projects, and at non-profit organizations through internships and volunteer work. As a young professional, I plan to continue developing a greater understanding of youth issues in preparation for doctoral study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.