Home » News » Online Program May Reduce Bullying Behavior
Online Program May Reduce Bullying Behavior

Online Program May Reduce Bullying Behavior

Promising new research finds that an online program can help to reduce behaviors that enable bullying among adolescents.

Case Western Reserve University researchers designed the program to address verbal, physical, sexual, and cyberbullying. They found that after completing the program, students reported significantly reduced odds of bystander passivity to both emotional and physical bullying. Use of healthy relationship skills also increased significantly.

“Part of convincing schools to use technology to address bullying is proving its effectiveness,” said Jane Timmons-Mitchell, Ph.D., a senior research associate. To accomplish this objective, Timmons-Mitchell led a research team to evaluate the program, known as StandUp.

Most anti-bullying programs are taught as a curriculum in person and have proven to be a hard sell to schools pressed to complete compulsory coursework and testing. They have also yielded mixed results but have been especially ineffective for non-white students and students in eighth grade and higher.

“We have to go where the kids are, instead of telling them where they should be,” said Timmons-Mitchell. “We do that by using new technology.”

Bullying is not an isolated or benign behavior. In a 2013 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 20 percent of high school youth said they had been bullied on school property in the last year alone. Overall, 14 percent to 54 percent of students in the United States report involvement with bullying, according to previous academic research.

All states have laws and/or policies that require schools to provide a mechanism to address bullying.

“Any participation in bullying can affect youth negatively. Being both a bully and a victim can lead to depression, self-harm, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts,” said Timmons-Mitchell, adding that perpetrators of bullying are more likely to commit crimes as young adults.

The online program (StandUp) consists of three half-hour sessions taken three months apart. The program is designed to present different tracks if a user identifies as a bully, as a victim of bullying, or a passive bystander — or as a combination of the roles.

Video clips of dramatized bullying situations in schools are interspersed, prompting responses; for example: “What do you think the bystander should do?”

Users are given individualized guidance matched to their bullying experiences, including an emphasis on six healthy relationship skills:

  • using calm, nonviolent ways to deal with disagreements (leaving the room to cool down, for example);
  • respecting the boundaries of others;
  • communicating feelings and needs clearly and respectfully;
  • making decisions in social situations that are right for each person;
  • respecting the feelings and needs of other people;
  • how to appropriately take a stand to stop bullying.

Studies have shown that adolescents especially respond more honestly to questions delivered by computers than on paper, Timmons-Mitchell said.

“Computers make it easier to deliver a strong message to adolescents,” she said, “that continuing down a negative path could land you in serious trouble and endanger the well-being of others.”

Source: Case Western Reserve University
Boy being bullied at school photo by shutterstock.

Online Program May Reduce Bullying Behavior

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Online Program May Reduce Bullying Behavior. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 21 Apr 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.