Background and scientific rationale of anti-bullying initiatives


The articles under scrutiny in this case are “School-based interventions to address bullying” by Smith and “Middle School Infractions Decrease with the Implementation of an Aggressive AntiBullying Initiative  P.R.E.S.S.” by Hester et al. as can be discerned from these titles, both articles focus on initiatives used to counter bullying within learning institutions. The first article by Smith (2016) examines several anti-bullying interventions namely, the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, KiVa, Friendly Schools, and Steps to Respect. The initiative of choice from this article is KiVa, which as noted by the author, was created by Salmivalli and affiliates in 2006 in Finland. The initiative encompasses targeted and universal interventions. The targeted interventions use KiVa teams based in schools -consisting of three adults- to resolve bullying issues reported to them. The class teacher further meets chosen high-status classmates of the bullied individuals and asks them to support their fellow students and essentially protect them. This component of the initiative is bolstered by the reasoning that the high-ranking students can have greater influence as defenders compared to those with lower status. In terms of universal interventions, the KiVa model entails student lessons for primary school and theme days for secondary school. Both categories engage in group lessons for anti-bullying involving discussions and virtual environment activities. These activities reinforce lessons via three modules including the ideas I Know, I Can, and I Do. The rationale behind this is that once presented with information about bullying they become knowledgeable about the vice, they can proceed to practice skills that counter bullying, and finally, they can transfer this knowledge to real life. The eventual findings show that following randomized controlled trials (RCTs), the KiVa approach was considerably successful resulting in its implementation in about 90% of all Finnish comprehensive schools.

In the second article by Hester et al. (2011), the primary focus is on the P.R.E.S.S. anti-bullying program. The initiative encompasses five principal strategies aimed at preventing bullying in middle school. These measures comprise of an intertwined web of support and rapport for students from the administration, teaching faculty, and general staff. One of the arguments behind the proposed interconnection is that creation of a safe and trust-inspiring school environment increases the chances of students discussing bullying incidents with adults around them. In addition, the anonymity integral to the design of this program accentuates chances of bullying victims reporting their experiences, without fear of reprisal by the bullies. Further, the program’s emphasis on educating students, parents, and faculty alike about the vice is instrumental in ensuring that all stakeholders are proactively engaged in the anti-bullying process. This further highlights the need to ensure that bystanders intervene. Finally, the program incorporated measures such as use of notepads dispersed throughout school to ensure that people reporting bullying incidents do not face the possibility of being termed “snitches”. The program was implemented with great success in middle-school level.

Succinct Critical Analysis of the Two Programs

The KiVa program primarily relies on peer support to prevent cases of bullying (Smith, 2016). The project further relied on conveyance of interventions, both targeted and universal, via the online virtual environment. This suggests that the model is more suited to dealing with cyber-bullying than it is for traditional forms of the vice. Further, there is minimal teacher involvement in the KiVa program, which implies inadequate teacher training on the subject. On the other hand, P.R.E.S.S seeks to stop bullying by engaging all school stakeholders, including students, administrators, teachers, and other adults invested in the learning institution. Research by Hester et al. (2011) reveals that after being introduced in a middle school, teachers depicted greater involvement in situations considered high-risk for occurrence of bullying such as during lunch hours and in hallways, particularly in transition times like end of lessons. Administrators and assistant principals further conducted sessions to meet students and listen to their concerns.

Use of notepads by students further safeguarded identity of students that opted to report bullying cases, thus increasing awareness of such situations. These efforts yielded positive results as shown by the significant drop in incidents of violence, authority defiance, and general indiscipline cases. Despite their distinctive features, both programs appears to pursue change on the basis of the theory of planned behavior, whereby successful intervention seems dependent on the change in stakeholders’ perceptions, attitudes, and norms, about bullying behavior, as well as, efficiency beliefs that actions like reporting and protecting victims would stop the vice.


While neither program is perfect and both present a wide array of benefits, I think that the P.R.E.S.S program is likely to be more effective than KiVa. This is because it is more proactive and more comprehensive, as demonstrated by inclusion of all school stakeholders. The inclusivity serves to build a feeling of community within a school, unlike in the KiVa program, which is more student-oriented. Further, the P.R.E.S.S initiative is more likely to foster peer relations and student-adult relations than KiVa, which could even pitch students against adults, isolating bullying victims even further since they may not feel free and confident enough to share their woes with people in authority out of fear for additional victimization. Nonetheless, schools should opt for an initiative that best suits their structure and prevailing circumstances, since every learning environment is unique.

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  1. Hester, J., Bolen, Y., Thomas, B., Vinson, B. M., & Heatherly, B. (2011). Middle school infractions decrease with the implementation of an aggressive anti-bullying initiative -P.R.E.S.S. Review of Higher Education & Self-Learning, 4(13), 103-107.
  2. Smith, P. (2016). School-based interventions to address bullying. Eesti Haridusteaduste Ajakiri, 4(2), 142–164.
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