10 - Australia: the Friendly Schools project  pp. 187-210

Australia: the Friendly Schools project

By Donna Cross et al.

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Impetus for the Friendly Schools intervention study

In Australia, approximately 1 in 6 school students reports being bullied at least once a week, and 1 in 20 reports bullying others in the past 6 months (Rigby, 1997; Zubrick et al., 1997). Slee and Rigby (1993; Slee, 1995) found that while most of these episodes of bullying last for a day or two, 17% last for 6 months or more. Australian primary-school children of both genders report being bullied more often than secondary-school students, with more boys than girls bullying others and being bullied (Rigby and Slee, 1991; Rigby, 1997; Rigby and Slee, 1998).

Despite Australian schools' increasing need systematically to address bullying, prior to 1999 no system-level, evidence-based recommendations or state curriculum materials to help to reduce bullying were available. Many school staff reported that they were unsure of the effectiveness of the strategies they utilised, and often did not know what actions could be taken at a whole-school level to reduce, or prevent, the harm from student bullying.

In response to this situation, in 1999, the Curtin University, Western Australian Centre for Health Promotion Research, applied for and received funding extensively to review and synthesise international published empirical and theoretical evidence of successful school-based strategies to reduce the harm experienced by children from being bullied or bullying others. This systematic review provided a set of ‘successful’ practice principles and exemplar case studies to develop a whole-school approach to reduce bullying.

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