Nationally, 20.8% of students age 12-18 report being bullied at school and 11.5% report being cyberbullied (1). Bullying peaks in middle school with 26% of students reporting being a target of bullying (1). Among middle schoolers, bullying victimization is associated with a variety of mental health problems including anxiety, depression, and suicide attempts. In addition, negative consequences linked with bullying extend to students who observe bullying (2). Student bystanders are also at increased risk for mental health problems, such as helplessness, isolation, and guilt. With 8 out of 10 students witnessing bullying (2), students need to know how to appropriately intervene.
The goal of Klein Buendel’s new Phase I STTR project is to begin to develop and test the feasibility of a middle school intervention to reduce bullying and its negative consequences. The project is being led by Dr. Aida Midgett (Principal Investigator) and Dr. Diana Doumas (Co-Investigator) of Boise State University, and Dr. Valerie Myers (Co-Investigator) of Klein Buendel. The project is entitled “Translation of an In-Person Brief, Bystander Bullying Intervention (STAC) into a Technology-Based Program”.
Research has shown that bystanders can stop bullying by intervening (3, 4). Yet, most students do not intervene to defend targets because they do not know what to do (5). Comprehensive, school-wide bullying programs can be effective (6), but time- and labor-intensive resources required for program implementation pose significant barriers for schools, particularly in low-income and rural communities, which can reduce program uptake. To reduce these barriers, Dr. Midgett developed a brief bullying bystander intervention, using four strategies: “Stealing the show,” “Turning it over,” “Accompanying others,” and “Coaching compassion” (STAC) (7). STAC has been shown to be effective in reducing bullying perpetration (8,9) and victimization (8) and negative mental health consequences for bystanders who witness bullying (10-15).
Although brief interventions reduce implementation barriers, in-person programs still require training and delivery by school personnel, placing significant demands on schools. The product developed in this Phase I project is a technology-based, brief bystander bullying intervention (STAC-T) that can impact current bullying prevention approaches by: (a) significantly reducing implementation barriers for middle schools, particularly those in low-income and rural communities that can face educational, social, and health disparities; (b) training bystanders to effectively intervene, reducing bullying while simultaneously improving the mental health of bystanders; and (c) improving the program sustainability potential at the middle school level when bullying behavior typically reaches its peak.
This research project is funded by a grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health (MD014943; Dr. Aida Midgett, Principal Investigator).
- National Center for Education Statistics. Student Reports of Bullying: Results from the 2015 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey. U.S. Department of Education;2016. NCES 2017-015.
- Rivers I, Poteat VP, Noret N, Ashurst N. Observing bullying at school: the mental health implications of witness status. Sch Psychol Q. 2009;24(4):211-223.
- Salmivalli C, Voeten M, Poskiparta E. Bystanders matter: associations between reinforcing, defending, and the frequency of bullying behavior in classrooms. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2011;40(5):668-676.
- Padgett S, Notar CE. Bystanders are the key to stopping bullying. Universal Journal of Educational Research. 2013;1(2):33-41.
- Hutchinson M. Exploring the impact of bullying on young bystanders. Educational Psychology in Practice. 2012;28(4):425-442.
- Gaffney H, Ttofi MM, Farrington DP. Evaluating the effectiveness of school-bullying prevention programs: an updated meta-analytical review [published online ahead of print July 20]. Aggr Violent Behav. 2018 doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2018.07.001
- Midgett A, Doumas D, Sears D, Lundquist A, Hausheer R. A bystander bullying psychoeducation program with middle school students: a preliminary report. Professional Counselor. 2015;5(4):486-500.
- Midgett A, Doumas DM, Johnston AD. Establishing school counselors as leaders in bullying curriculum delivery:Evaluation of a brief, school-wide bystander intervention. Professional School Counseling. 2017;21(1):1-9.
- Midgett A, Doumas DM, Trull R, Johnson J. Training students who occasionally bully to be peer advocates: is a bystander intervention effective in reducing bullying behavior? Journal of Child and Adolescent Counseling. 2017;3(1):1-13.
- Moran M, Midgett A, Doumas DM, Porchia S, Moody S. A mixed method evaluation of a culturally adapted, brief, bullying bystander intervention for middle school students. Under review
- Doumas DM, Midgett A, Watts AD. The impact of a brief, bullying bystander intervention on internalizing symptoms: Is gender a moderator of intervention effects? [published online ahead of print February 14]. Sch Psychol Int. 2019 doi: 10.1177/0143034319830149
- Watts A, Doumas DM, Midgett A. The efficacy of a brief, bystander bullying intervention on alcohol use among high school students. Journal of Addictions and Offender Counseling. In press
- Midgett A, Doumas DM. The impact of a brief, bullying bystander intervention on depressive symptoms. Journal of Counseling and Development. In press
- Midgett A, Doumas DM, Trull R. Evaluation of a bystander bullying intervention program for elementary school students. Professional School Counselor. 2018;20(1):172-183.
- Midgett A, Doumas DM, Trull R, Johnston A. A randomized controlled study evaluating a brief, bystander bullying intervention with junior high school students. Journal of School Counseling. 2017;15