Washington, Feb 24 : Researchers at University of Denver suggest that a curriculum-based bullying prevention program can reduce the incidents of bullying among elementary school children.
The study led by Jeffrey M. Jenson and William A. Dieterich of the University of Denver's Graduate School of Social Work examined more than 1,100 students in 28 elementary schools in Denver public schools with the help of the bullying prevention program "Youth Matters" (YM).
One group was exposed to a bullying prevention program while the second "control" group of students was not.
They were trained in four 10-week modules over the course of two academic years where the curriculum focused on two themes including issues and skills related to bullying and other forms of early aggression.
Prior studies have suggested that about 25 percent of elementary students either bully or are victims of bullying and both the groups were at risk of later mental health problems and involvement in anti-social activities.
The findings revealed that bully victimization among students taking the 'Youth Matters' curriculum decreased by 20 percent compared to a 10 percent drop from students in the control group.
"By the end of the study bully victimization was significantly lower in the YM group relative to the control group," said Jenson.
"This outcome is encouraging because the curriculum modules tested in the study focused on teaching the social and emotional skills necessary to avoid becoming a bully victim," he added.
The aim of the training was to teach students how to use these skills to stay out of trouble, build positive relationships, make good decisions and avoid anti-social behaviour.
"Understanding the consequences of bullying from both a bully and a victim perspective is emphasized in training sessions," he said .
"Our findings point to the importance of social and emotional skills in reducing bullying," he added.
The study appears in the December 2007 issue of Prevention Science by the Society for Prevention Research.