Research & Evidence-base
Making schools more peaceful
Trials of an in-school anti-bullying programme suggest it may be worthwhile to concentrate efforts on creating a peaceful learning environment rather than entirely on tackling the behaviour of the individual bully or his victim.
Overseen by Peter Fonagy from University College, London, and his collaborators in Houston, Texas, the trial in nine schools in the US mid-west showed that Creating a Peaceful School Learning Environment (CAPSLE), was effective in reducing aggression and victimisation. The three-year randomised study assessed the impact of the programme on 1,300 children between the ages of eight and 11. Over the three years of the trial, aggression and victimisation in all schools increased, but the rise was significantly less marked in CAPSLE schools. The targeted SPC intervention was better than nothing, but the school-wide programme was more effective.
Impact was measured in a number of ways. Children were asked to nominate classmates they thought were perpetrators or victims of bullying and to fill in standardised questionnaires about their experiences of bullying. In addition, researchers visited the schools, observing children’s classroom behaviour.
For child-reported outcomes, effect sizes averaged 0.32 and for behaviour observations 0.97. Effects of this magnitude are usually to be expected only from intense, laboratory-style studies.