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Again, as in the Scandinavian study, schools that were more active in implementing the program observed the most marked changes in reported behaviors. In a study of 207 junior high and high school students from small midwestern towns, 88 percent reported having observed bullying, and 77 percent indicated that they had been victims of bullying during their school careers. Although there have been few studies of the prevalence of bullying among American schoolchildren, available data suggest that bullying is quite common in U. A study of 6,500 students in fourth to sixth grades in the rural South indicated that 1 in 4 students had been bullied with some regularity within the past 3 months and that 1 in 10 had been bullied at least once a week. Moreover, students reported significant decreases in rates of truancy, vandalism, and theft and indicated that their school's climate was significantly more positive as a result of the program.
Implicit in this definition is an imbalance in real or perceived power between the bully and victim. Smith, "A survey of the nature and extent of bullying in junior/middle and secondary schools," Educational Research 35:3-25, 1993.
The first and best-known intervention to reduce bullying among school children was launched by Olweus in Norway and Sweden in the early 1980's. Smith, "Types of bullying behavior and their correlates," Aggressive Behavior 9-368, 1994; I.
Stimulated by the pioneering work of Dan Olweus in Norway and Sweden, researchers from several nations -- Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, Japan, Norway, and the United States -- have begun to explore the nature, prevalence, and effects of bullying among school children.
Their findings provide compelling reasons for initiating interventions to prevent bullying.
The core components of the Olweus antibullying program have been adapted for use in several other cultures, including Canada, England, and the United States. Melton, "Bullying among school children: Preliminary findings from a school-based intervention program," paper presented at the Fifth International Family Violence Research Conference, Durham, NH, June/July 1997.
Results of the antibullying efforts in these countries have been similar to the results experienced in the Scandinavian countries, with the efforts in Toronto schools showing somewhat more modest results. Approximately one in five children admitted that they had bullied another child with some regularity in the previous 3 months. These figures are consistent with estimates of several other researchers. Its high prevalence among children, its harmful and frequently enduring effects on victims, and its chilling effects on school climate are significant reasons for prevention and early intervention efforts in schools and communities. The phenomenon of bullying deserves special attention by educators, parents, and children concerned with violence prevention for two significant reasons. Several studies suggest that bullying in early childhood may be a critical risk factor for the development of future problems with violence and delinquency. program has been based explicitly on the comprehensive model developed by Olweus in Sweden and Norway. For example, Olweus' research found that in addition to threatening other children, bullies were several times more likely than their nonbullying peers to commit antisocial acts, including vandalism, fighting, theft, drunkenness, and truancy, and to have an arrest by young adulthood. Within the past several years, a number of school-based programs have been developed to address bullying, although the degree to which they embrace a whole-school approach to the problem varies. Through a grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Gary B. Limber, and colleagues at the Institute for Families in Society of the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC, have adapted Olweus' model for use in rural middle schools in that State. Inspired by the suicides of several severely victimized children, Norway supported the development and implementation of a comprehensive program to address bullying among children in school. The program involved interventions at multiple levels: Schoolwide interventions. First, the prevalence of bullying and the harm that it causes are seriously underestimated by many children and adults. It is critical that any violence prevention strategy work to raise the awareness of children, school staff, and parents regarding the link between bullying and other violent behaviors.