Session 8: Strategies to reduce violence
Discuss relative effectiveness of two strategies for
reducing violence
Olweus Bullying Prevention Programme
Metropolitan Area Child Study (MACS) for
prevention of aggressive behaviour &
violence in children
Olweus Bullying Prevention
Programme (OBPP)
Programme is universal i.e. it includes all
staff, parents and students in school
The aim is to change the school environment
as a whole while targeting individual students
Teachers receive training so that they are
equipped with the skills to recognise and deal
with bullying and implement cooperative
learning strategies within the classroom.
Also includes supervision of playgrounds and
Students fill out questionnaires with the aim
of identifying bullies in elementary, middle
and high school
Aims to help both bullies and their victims
Adults should be positive role models and set
firm limits to unacceptable behaviour
Longitudinal study on the effect of OBPP on
Study was conducted in Bergen area of
Norway after 3 adolescents has committed
suicide as a result of bullying
Sample of 2500 children from 5th-8th grade
participated in OBPP for 2 years
Data collection took place through
observations and questionnaires for teachers
& students
 Showed an overall improvement of 50% reduction
in self-reported bullying incidents and a general
improvement of social climate in classrooms
 Students’ self reports showed:
Higher satisfaction with school life
Improved order and discipline
More positive social relationships
More positive attitudes towards school & schoolwork in
Results indicate that OBPP has a higher level of
Longitudinal study so was able to review
effectiveness of programme over period of years
Only generalisable to students in 5th-8th grade in
Issues with self report data for bullying. Lack of
honesty among bullies? Victims reluctant to
report bullying?
Impact of suicides of bullied teens may have
increased awareness of bullying regardless of
programme and may be to account for reported
Study on implementation of OBPP in US
Participants were 13 inner city schools in one
urban school district
Programme ran for 4 years but only 9 schools
Results showed that not all schools followed
programme as it is intended (only 48% fidelity
to programme)
Observed bullying incidents decreased 25.5%
in all schools
On average students’ self reported bullying
incidents increased from 39-43% in the 4
years BUT schools that had implemented the
programme most rigorously actually had a
decrease in self reported bullying incidents
Black argued that the mixed results in terms
of reduction of bullying could be due to less
rigorous implementation, lack of resources
and cultural differences between Norway &
OBPP was developed in Norway where social
responsibility for all is a core value.
This value is perhaps difficult to translate into
the American culture of individual
Provides cross cultural data on effectiveness of
Due to large drop out rate and lack of proper
implementation in some schools it is unclear
whether programme is effective in US, however,
schools that followed programme did report
decrease in self reported bullying incidents
Programme implementation in all schools led to
an increase in supervision of students which
could possibly account for decrease in bullying
rather than the programme itself
Research in Norway has suggested that this
programme is effective.
However, research conducted in the US had
mixed results.
Unclear whether this programme can be used
universally or is more suited to Norwegian
culture where shared social responsibility is
Metropolitan Area Child Study (MACS)
for prevention of aggressive behaviour
& violence in children
Programme consists of:
◦ A classroom programme with focus of empathy training and social
problem-solving skills
◦ Training in social skills which takes place in small group sessions
where students meet and discuss peer relations and adequate
social problem-solving strategies
◦ Family counseling which take place in small groups with other
families. The meetings start with lessons and then families discuss
specific issues in relation to family-specific problems
Aim: to investigate whether violence prevention
could reduce aggression and violence
 Longitudinal quasi experimental field study
 2181 elementary students classified as high
risk from 2 inner city areas in Midwest of USA
 Intervention ran over 8 years
 Participants mostly belonged to ethnic
minority groups and many were poor
 Quasi experimental field study consisted of 4
Control group- no intervention
Full programme
Only classroom programme
Classroom programme and social skills training
programme for high risk children
 Overall there was no effect of the programme on
overall levels of aggression but there was an
impact in some of the subgroups:
 Students who had participated in full programme
either early or late and came from low risk
schools showed less aggression compared to
control group
 Students from high risk schools showed a higher
level of aggression after the programme
compared to the control group
 Study showed that early intervention is most
effective is fully programme is offered.
Reviewed relative effectiveness of MACS
Suggest that:
◦ Normally aggressive behaviour has negative
consequences in peer groups but it seems that
some aggressive children are able to maintain a
popular status among peers
They found that:
◦ Youth who began the MACS late intervention
programme and already had high levels of
popularity were able to increase in aggressiveness
while in the programme
According to Guerra: if aggression is seen as
normal (normative) in the peer group (e.g.
because you live in a violent neighbourhood)
and it pays off (e.g. increased attention from
teachers and increased peer status) it is likely
to continue in spite of an intervention
There are problems is precise measurement
of effectiveness of programme
Most effect studies look at average scores
(e.g. how many children become delinquent)
but do not include how various factors could
affect outcomes for different groups
This means that programme may be effective
sometimes and with particular groups but
may not be effective in other situations
Seems that school based strategies to reduce
violence are not always very effective
It is probably because violence is a complex
phenomenon that must be addressed at
social, cultural, individual and socioeconomic
It is necessary to look at what works when
and with whom as well as when it does not
work (Guerra et al, 2006)
Ferguson et al (2007) performed meta analysis of
school based anti bullying programmes and
found that overall they were not very effective in
reducing bullying and violent behaviours within
The programmes that target at-risk youth were
slightly more effective.
Lack of effectiveness could be because bullies
may use bullying to climb social dominance
hierarchy at expense of others and that bullying
intervention programmes offer no incentives for