Bullying Prevention: What Current Research Suggests

Bullying Prevention: What Current Research Suggests

04 Feb 2020     By Linnea R. Swanson & Dr. Susan M. Swearer

Dr. Susan Swearer, Linnea Swanson, Maya Enista Smith, and Kelley Wick following Maya’s presentation, “Cultivating Kindness to Support Mental Health.”
Dr. Susan Swearer, Linnea Swanson, Maya Enista Smith, and Kelley Wick following Maya’s presentation, “Cultivating Kindness to Support Mental Health.”


This past November, researchers and practitioners from around the world met in Chicago, Illinois at the annual conference for the International Bullying Prevention Association (IBPA). Among these researchers were our own Dr. Swearer and four graduate student researchers. Attendees brought new research and ideas for bullying prevention to the table, discussing what can be done to effectively address bullying in our schools and communities.

Approaches to Bullying Prevention


There is not a one-size-fits-all solution to bullying prevention, but research presented at IBPA addressed factors that can help build resiliency, decrease the incidences of bullying, and improve school climate.


Dr. Ryan Broll presented his research that has shown quality relationships to be a protective factor for children who are bullied. These relationships include peer friendships, caregivers who listen and support, and teachers who genuinely care for kids.


Promoting kindness was another major topic. Maya Enista Smith, Executive Director of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, talked about ways the foundation works to spread kindness. Kindness has the opportunity to replace bullying behaviors in youth, and it is an important concept for adults to model for children.


In addition to building relationships and showing kindness, Dr. Decoteau Irby discussed the concept of a “courageously confrontational school culture,” describing the need to directly address injustices, including bullying. Creating environments where we have these difficult conversations when individuals are getting bullied or treated unfairly is necessary to create positive change.


Other creative bullying prevention initiatives look at incorporating bullying prevention into daily activities. Examples of ways this has been done include incorporating bullying prevention into P.E. class (which has traditionally been associated with being competitive and sometimes promoting bullying) or reading books with children to talk about bullying situations and how to handle them. Incorporating activities like these has the potential to decrease bullying and improve school climate.


Presented Lab Research


At the conference, Dr. Susan Swearer presented on a current research study looking at her Target-Bullying Intervention Program (T-BIP), showing a practical approach to bullying interventions in schools and the impact it has on decreasing bullying behaviors.


The Empowerment Initiative Lab at UNL also had four poster presentations focused on bullying. Topics of our research included racial inequalities in referrals to our bullying intervention, reasons why students are involved in bullying, factors that impact perceived coping with bullying, and the importance of unconditional kindness in stopping bullying.


The link to the posters can be found here.















Nebraska Bullying Prevention and Intervention Initiative