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Pennsylvania Schools Report Decrease in Bullying Behaviors

Wednesday, November 18, 2009 General News J E 4
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PITTSBURGH, Nov. 17 According to "Bullying Prevention: A Statewide Collaborative That Works," a report released by the Highmark Foundation today, incidences of bullying in Pennsylvania schools have decreased. The analysis demonstrates that after only three or more months of schools' implementation of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, bullying decreased by 14 percent among elementary students and 25 percent among high school students. After six or more months of implementation, 14 percent of middle school students said that they would try to help another student who was bullied.

"This report evaluated more children in Pennsylvania to determine the effects of a collaborative, statewide bullying prevention initiative than any other previous attempt in the U.S.," said Dr. Matthew Masiello, director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at Windber Research Institute and lead researcher on behalf of the Highmark Foundation. "More than 56,000 students and 2,400 teachers from 107 Pennsylvania schools participated in a survey to assess changes in school climate, perceptions of teacher effectiveness when responding to bullying incidents and degree of bullying behaviors among students."

The study was conducted by the Highmark Foundation to assess the impact made by its Highmark Healthy High 5 initiative, a five year, $100 million children's health promotion program that focuses on issues that are critical to the lifelong wellness of children and adolescents, including bullying prevention.

"During the past three years, Highmark Healthy High 5 has provided more than 200 schools throughout the state with the tools and resources to implement the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program through the Highmark Healthy High 5 HALT! and PA CARES programs," said Yvonne Cook, president of the Highmark Foundation. "The data from this analysis indicates that we are beginning to see progress and make positive changes in the way our schools are responding to the issue of bullying."

In September, the foundation shared preliminary results of the report that indicated significant decreases in reports of elementary and middle school students being bullied. The full analysis includes statistics based on research conducted at the high school level. Until now, high school students have been a population that was never evaluated in terms of bullying prevention efforts.

High school students reported a 16 percent decrease in reports of being bullied and a 39 percent decrease in bullying others after 12 months of participating in a bullying prevention program. These students also had increased perceptions that adults at school were actively working to address the issue of bullying.

The study was the primary topic of discussion this morning at the International Bullying Prevention Association Conference, which is being held today and tomorrow at the Omni William Penn hotel in downtown Pittsburgh. More than 650 school personnel, policymakers, researchers, community leaders and parents have gathered to discuss best practices for creating safe learning and neighborhood environments free of bullying.

To view the complete report and its results, visit www.highmarkhealthyhigh5.org.

About the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program

The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) is the most widely accepted and internationally recognized health promotion program designed to improve peer relations and make schools safer, more positive places for students to learn and develop. The OBPP is a long-term, systemwide program that involves components at four levels: school, individual, classroom and community. The OBPP has been implemented in more than a dozen countries around the world and in thousands of United States schools. For more information about the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, visit www.olweus.org.

About the Highmark Foundation

The Highmark Foundation, created in 2000 as an affiliate of Highmark Inc., is a charitable organization and a private foundation that supports initiatives and programs aimed at improving community health. The foundation's mission is to improve the health, well-being and quality of life for individuals who reside in the Pennsylvania communities served by Highmark Inc. The foundation awards two types of grants: Highmark Healthy High 5, which includes a focus on the health and well-being of children in the areas of physical activity, nutrition, self-esteem, bullying and grieving; and its traditional four areas of general health focus, which include chronic disease, communicable disease, family health and service delivery systems. Where possible, the foundation looks to support evidence-based programs that impact multiple counties and work collaboratively to leverage additional funding to achieve replicable models. For more information about the Highmark Foundation, visit www.highmark.com.

SOURCE Highmark Foundation
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