142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Evaluation of the Implementation of Anti-Bullying Legislation in Schools

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 : 4:50 PM - 5:10 PM

Marizen Ramirez, MPH, PhD , Occupational and Environmental Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Laura Schwab Reese, MA , Injury Prevention Research Center, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Erica L. Spies, MS , College of Public Health, Department of Community and Behavioral Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Corinne Peek-Asa, PhD, MPH , Occupational and Environmental Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Angela Onwuachi-Willig, JD , College of Law, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Background. Many states have adopted anti-bullying legislation in an effort to reduce bullying in schools. However, little is known about how schools translate legislation into anti-bullying policies and interventions.  The purpose of this study is to evaluate implementation of anti-bullying legislation in a Midwestern state.

Methods.  A mixed method study was conducted with middle school administrators in one Midwestern state. Twenty-seven administrators completed qualitative interviews and 145 completed quantitative surveys.

Results. Nearly all schools (n=144, 99.3%) have an anti-bullying policy. On a scale of 1(Not Successful) to 10 (Very Successful), administrators reported being rather successful in developing anti-bullying policies at their schools (mean=8.9, SD=1.3).  Policy implementation was more challenging. Administrators report it is especially difficult to identify effective remedial plans for bullying perpetrators (score:6.5, SD:1.9). In our qualitative interviews, administrators stated that the legal definition of bullying was difficult to interpret, which led to challenges in confirming cases of bullying and in disciplining bullies. Nearly all schools disseminated their policies to staff and students (n=144, 99.3%) but qualitative findings indicate that staff and students also struggle to understand the definition of bullying, despite multiple efforts to disseminate the policy and provide trainings. Administrators reported that it was difficult to obtain resources to support anti-bullying efforts (mean:5.2, SD:2.1).

Conclusions. Although schools successfully developed anti-bullying policies, implementation of policies is difficult because of the challenges in identifying when incidents meet the definition of bullying.  Additional financial resources and information about effective intervention strategies would help schools in their efforts to reduce bullying.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the extent to which schools complied with legal requirements for anti-bullying efforts Analyze the challenges and barriers of school administrators to successful implementation the law

Keyword(s): Evaluation, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Co-I on a grant focusing on the effectiveness of anti-bullying legislation. I am the project manager of a study examining the implementation process and effectiveness of one state's anti-bullying legislation.
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.