“Making A Difference” in Bullying Prevention
Bullying touches the lives of our children. Whether they are the targets of bullying, children who bully others, or those that witness bullying among their peers; we know that children need the help of caring adults to make bullying stop. Community Outreach Workers at the York Centre are currently engaging with grades 5 and 6 students in the York District School Board to give them skills and practice opportunities to put a stop to bullying. During this 8-session program, children learn how to recognize physical, verbal, social, and electronic bullying behaviour; and come to understand the social dynamics that contribute to peer victimization. Through the use of small art projects, group discussion, and role-plays, participants in the “Making A Difference” Program come to realize the value of empathy and their own power to intervene in bullying situations that happen to them or that they see happening to others.
The majority of evidence-based bullying prevention programs focus on the role of the bystander and highlight actions they can take to stop bullying or aid a child who is victimized. “Making A Difference” aims to add to this evidence-base by conducting a thorough evaluation of the effectiveness of this program. Children respond to questionnaires that tap into their perception the frequency and severity of bullying before and after the program. Then these ratings are compared to give researchers an idea of how much “Making A Difference” is really making a difference in bullying.
The York Centre, in partnership with The Centre for Excellence, has set out to measure the effectiveness of this program. Both the York Region District School Board and the York Region Catholic District School Board have given permission for our team to administer surveys to the students and teachers of selected grade 5 and 6 classes across York Region. We have already started to collect the data and our hope is to have the final data collected and analysed by early July 2011.
The evaluation findings will be posted on The York Centre’s website in the fall 2011.