School Bullying Interventions Only Moderately Effective

A study published in School Psychology Quarterly found that bullying interventions in elementary and secondary schools only have a moderate impact on bullying.

The study was conducted by Kenneth W. Merrell, Barbara A. Gueldner, Scott W. Ross, and Duane M. Isava.

In their study, Merrell and his colleagues used a meta-analysis to investigate the effectiveness of school bullying interventions.

A meta-analysis is a statistical procedure that allows researchers to mathematically summarize the results of a number of different studies.

Their meta-analysis included 16 studies from the United States and Europe that were conducted from 1980 to 2004. In total, these studies examined the effects of bullying interventions on 15,386 students from kindergarten to the 12th grade.

Merrell and his colleagues found other studies on bullying interventions, but had to exclude those studies from their meta-analysis because of the studies’ methodological limitations.

“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 bullying and victim roles,” as Merrell and his colleagues explain.

Bully Free ZoneAlthough some positive effects were found, as Merrell and his colleagues note, the majority of these effects were too weak to be considered meaningful.

The strongest effects were found to be related to knowledge, attitudes, and self-perception regarding bullying. Merrell and his colleagues found a significant increase in the victims’ self-esteem, the teachers’ knowledge about bullying prevention, and students’ social competence and peer acceptance.

But the bullying interventions did not appear to have an effect on actual bullying behavior.

“Although antibullying interventions appear to be useful in increasing awareness, knowledge, and self-perceived competency in dealing with bullying, it should not be expected that these interventions will dramatically influence the incidence of actual bullying and victimization behaviors.”


Merrell, K.W., Gueldern, 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, Vol 23, No 1: 26-42.

1 Comment

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    From what I’ve seen the only thing that goes on between bullies and a counselor, is that the counselor will ask the bully what he or she did and why what they did was wrong. Then, the bully will continue to bully in more discreet and less obvious ways until he or she gets caught again.