Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP)

About This Program

Target Population: Students in elementary, middle, and high schools

For children/adolescents ages: 5 – 18

Program Overview

The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) is a framework for creating systemic change by building a school climate that discourages bullying and addresses it effectively, if it occurs. It is designed for students in grades K-12 and involves all staff, students, parents, and the community in bullying prevention efforts. All students participate in most aspects of the program, while students who bully others and students who are bullied receive additional individualized interventions. The OBPP is a coordinated collection of research-based components that addresses the problem of bullying at four levels: school-wide, classroom, individual, and community. OBPP schools receive training and consultation from certified Olweus Trainer-Consultants prior to implementation. The staff forms a school coordinating committee and receives ongoing consulting support. The program includes resources for engaging with families and community members, including holding educational events about bullying issues, communicating with parents regarding bullying incidents, and classroom meetings.

Program Goals

The goals of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) are:

  • Reduce existing bullying problems
  • Prevent new bullying problems
  • Achieve better peer relations and build a sense of community

Essential Components

The essential components of Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) include:

  • A comprehensive, school-wide approach
  • Focused on reducing bullying and intervening in bullying problems that may arise
  • Addresses the problem of bullying at four levels:
    • Schoolwide interventions:
      • Form a Bullying Prevention Coordinating Committee (BPCC) to plans and coordinate program implementation:
        • Represents all groups from the school
        • Serves as the leadership team
        • Plans bullying prevention activities
        • Trains and motivates staff, students, and parents
        • Ensures that efforts continue over time
      • Conduct BPCC and staff trainings to ensure all staff members are adequately trained:
        • To understand the nature of bullying and its effects
        • How to respond if they observe bullying
        • How to work with others at the school to help prevent bullying from occurring
      • Administer the Olweus Bullying Questionnaire annually to:
        • Assess the nature, extent, and location of bullying problems in a school
        • Use the results to focus the school’s anti-bullying work, refine their supervisory system, and evaluate the success of the program
      • Form staff discussion groups to:
        • Provide ongoing opportunities for professional development on bullying issues
        • Share program successes and concerns
      • Introduce school-wide rules against bullying:
        • Rules taught to students and posted throughout the school
        • Appropriate methods of positive reinforcement and developmentally appropriate corrective consequences established to ensure that students are aware of adult expectations that they:
        • Refrain from bullying
        • Help students who are bullied
      • Refine the schools’ supervisory system to increase adult supervision at bullying hot spots identified by the Olweus Bullying Questionnaire:
        • Use the BPCC to review and coordinate ways to increase adult presence in these locations
        • Develop a system to track and report which encourages consistent reporting for known or suspected incidents of bullying
      • Hold a schoolwide kickoff event to introduce the program to students after training of staff has been completed (and repeat annually) in order to:
        • Increase awareness about bullying
        • Introduce the program to (new) students
        • Explain the school’s rules and procedures related to bullying
        • Energize (or re-energize) staff and students around the school’s effort to address bullying
      • Conduct parent meetings and ongoing family communication to strengthen home-school connection while building support for program implementation
    • Classroom interventions:
      • Post and enforce schoolwide rules against bullying in each classroom
      • Hold regular class meetings to build cohesion and community and establish communication among all members of the class:
        • Teach the antibullying rules
        • Help students understand bullying
        • Address any issues that arise
        • Explore any other issues related to bullying and peer relations
        • Conduct meetings with flexibility using:
          • Group discussion
          • Role-play
          • Video
          • Integration of lessons into existing curriculum
        • Held weekly for grades K-8 and every other week for grades 9-12
      • Hold meetings with students’ parents or guardians:
        • Classroom or grade-level meetings
        • Periodically during the year
    • Individual interventions:
      • Supervise students’ activities:
        • All adults are expected to supervise all children in the school at all times.
        • Adults are expected to actively intervene in and follow up on bullying situations when necessary.
      • Ensure that all staff intervene on-the-spot when bullying occurs. The six-step on-the-spot intervention guides staff in what to do if they witness bullying first-hand.
      • Hold meetings with individual students who are involved in bullying or suspected of being involved and carry out follow-up interventions to ensure that:
        • Bullying behaviors cease
        • Students who have been bullied receive necessary support
      • Hold meetings with parents of involved students:
        • Use the strategies provided for talking with families when their child is involved in bullying whether as the one who is bullied or the one bullying others.
        • Develop solutions for student safety and positive growth
      • Develop individual intervention plans for involved students to ensure each student’s physical and emotional safety while a bullying problem is being addressed.
    • Community interventions:
      • Develop partnerships with community members to support the program
      • Involve community members on the BPCC
      • Help spread antibullying messages and principles of best practice throughout the community by:
        • Engaging community partners
        • Providing training for staff members and volunteers of community agencies
        • Leveraging community resources to share information and bullying prevention strategies for children, youth, & adults in the community

Program Delivery

Child/Adolescent Services

Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:

  • Bullying victimization and bullying perpetration
Services Involve Family/Support Structures:

This program involves the family or other support systems in the individual's treatment: All families in the school are invited to participate in the program. Parent meetings and ongoing family communication strengthen home-school connection while building support for program implementation. Families participate as a group in schoolwide family educational presentations and classroom meetings for students’ parents/families. A family member may also serve on the Bullying Prevention Coordinating Committee.

Group Format

Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) was not designed to be conducted in a group setting, and has not been tested for use in a group setting.

Recommended Intensity:

Class meetings with students are done weekly for primary grades and every other week for secondary grades. The required amount of time for the meetings depends on the age of the student but should be sufficient to allow for teaching and discussion. Other schoolwide activities are spread throughout the year. Individual meetings are done as needed with children/youth involved in a bullying occurrence.

Recommended Duration:

Should be woven into the entire school environment to become a daily part of school life. Normal time for implementation of the program is 12-18 months. It should not have an end date.

Delivery Setting

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • School Setting (Including: Day Care, Day Treatment Programs, etc.)

Homework

This program does not include a homework component.

Languages

Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) has materials available in a language other than English:

Spanish

For information on which materials are available in this language, please check on the program's website or contact the program representative (contact information is listed at the bottom of this page).

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

Space and personnel that are already available at the site. Required program materials are the Olweus Bullying Questionnaire, OBPP Schoolwide Guide, and OBPP Teacher Guide. Supplemental resources for class meetings are also available.

Education and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

There are no minimum qualifications. All faculty and staff are involved in program implementation.

Education and Training Resources

There is a manual that describes how to deliver this program, and there is training available for this program.

  • Olweus, D., Limber, S. P., Flerx, V., Mullin, N., Riese, J., & Snyder, M. (2007). Olweus Bullying Prevention Program: Schoolwide guide. Hazelden.
  • Olweus, D., & Limber, S. P. (2007). Olweus Bullying Prevention Program: Teacher guide. Hazelden.
  • Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, U.S. (2019). Olweus Bullying Prevention Program Trainer’s Manual. Clemson University.

The Schoolwide Guide and Teacher Guide can be purchased through Hazelden Publishing at http://www.violencepreventionworks.org.

The Trainers Manual is given to participants at a Trainer Certification Course.

Training Contact:
Training is obtained:

Faculty and staff within Safe and Humane Schools at Clemson University provide training and support for individuals to become Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) Certified Trainer-Consultants through OBPP Trainer Certification Courses (TCC) that are conducted across the United States.

A certified Trainer-Consultant provides site-based training followed by monthly consultation to the school’s Bullying Prevention Coordinating Committee. Depending on the size of the organization, 8-15 members of the Bullying Prevention Coordinating Committee attend the initial committee training and then provide training for the rest of the school staff.

Number of days/hours:
  • A 40-hour Trainer Certification Course is provided for those interested in becoming a certified Trainer-Consultant
  • 12-hour Bullying Prevention Coordinating Committee Training
  • 6-hour staff training

Implementation Information

Pre-Implementation Materials

There are pre-implementation materials to measure organizational or provider readiness for Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) as listed below:

A Readiness Assessment helps gauge how prepared a school is to begin implementation of the program. This tool is available free of charge at http://www.violencepreventionworks.org/public/olweus_preparation.page

A timeline, checklist, flowchart, and a webinar provide detailed information about the components of the program and steps to consider when implementing the OBPP. A timeline and checklist are available from a certified Trainer-Consultant. A Flowchart for Implementation and Considerations for Implementation webinar are available through the Program Office.

Formal Support for Implementation

There is formal support available for implementation of Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) as listed below:

OBPP implementation is a highly supported process created by a multilayered system of consultative support. Following participation in a certification course, a Certified Trainer-Consultant supports the school-based leadership team throughout program planning and implementation. The Trainer-Consultant conducts committee training, helps troubleshoot challenge areas, and provides ongoing assistance in the implementation of program components. This support is provided for 12-18 months.

The certified Trainer-Consultant receives mentoring and support through consultation with an Olweus Technical Assistance Consultant who provides regularly scheduled supportive consultation and technical assistance for 12 to 16 hours over a 24-month period with the option of extension not beyond 48 months.

Fidelity Measures

There are fidelity measures for Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) as listed below:

  • OBPP Schoolwide Checklist: First Year of Implementation is a self-reported checklist designed to help schools track the fidelity of the OBPP and provide a guide for discussions.
  • OBPP Implementation Checklist for Continued Program Implementation is a self-reported checklist designed to help schools evaluate their program’s status after the first and subsequent years of implementation.

These documents are included with the Schoolwide Guide.

  • OBPP Implementation Checklist is a self-reported checklist for teachers to use to track how closely they are maintaining the fidelity of OBPP over the first 6 months of implementation.

This document is included with the Teacher Guide.

Implementation Guides or Manuals

There are implementation guides or manuals for Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) as listed below:

The OBPP Schoolwide Guide provides step-by-step directions and resources for school-wide implementation; includes video and documents. The Schoolwide Guide can be purchased from Hazelden Publishing at http://www.violencepreventionworks.org

The OBPP Teacher Guide provides step-by-step instructions, background information, and implementation tips to effectively implement in a classroom setting; includes video and documents. The Teacher Guide can be purchased from Hazelden Publishing at http://www.violencepreventionworks.org.

Implementation Cost

There have been studies of the costs of implementing Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) which are listed below:

Highmark Foundation. (2012). The cost benefit of bullying prevention: A first-time analysis of savings. https://www.highmarkfoundation.org/pdf/publications/HMK_Bullying%20Report_final.pdf

Research on How to Implement the Program

Research has not been conducted on how to implement Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP).

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

Child Welfare Outcome: Child/Family Well-Being

Olweus, D. (2005). A useful evaluation design, and effects of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. Psychology, Crime & Law, 11, 389–402. https://doi.org/10.1080/10683160500255471

Type of Study: Pretest-posttest study with a nonequivalent control
Number of Participants: Approximately 21,000

Population:

  • Age — Not specified
  • Race/Ethnicity — Not specified
  • Gender — Not specified
  • Status — Participants were students.

Location/Institution: Norway

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP). Measures utilized include the Bully/Victim Questionnaire. Results indicated quite substantial reductions in bully/victim problems. The ‘‘time-series’’ nature of the data showed convincingly that a ‘‘history interpretation’’ of the findings is very unlikely. Limitations include reliance on self-reported measures; missing data; may not be generalizable to other schools wishing to implement the program, given the inherent complexity required for program implementation; and historical factors in the study setting.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 8 months

Bauer, N. S., Lozano, P., & Rivara, F. P. (2007). The effectiveness of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program in public middle schools: A controlled trial. Journal of Adolescent Health, 40, 266–274. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2006.10.005

Type of Study: Pretest–posttest study with a nonequivalent control
Number of Participants: 6,518

Population:

  • Age — 6th–8th grade (approx. 10–14 years)
  • Race/Ethnicity — 31.5% White, 24.5% Asian, 20% Black or African American, 7% Hispanic or Latino, 1.5% Native American, and 9.5% Other
  • Gender — 50.5% Female
  • Status — Participants were students in grades 6–8.

Location/Institution: 10 public middle schools in Seattle

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP). Measures utilized include the Revised Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire. Results indicate showed no overall effect on student victimization. However, when stratified by ethnicity/race, reports of relational and physical victimization decreased by 28% and 37%, respectively, among white students relative to those in comparison schools. No similar effect was found for students of other races/ethnicities; there were no differences by gender or by grade. Students in intervention schools were more likely to perceive other students as actively intervening in bullying incidents, and 6th graders were more likely to feel sorry and want to help victims. Limitations include reliance on self-reported measures; missing data; may not be generalizable to other schools wishing to implement the program, given the inherent complexity required for program implementation; and historical factors in the study setting.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 2 years.

Limber, S. P., Olweus, D., Wang, W., Masiello, M., & Breivik, K. (2018). Evaluation of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program: A large scale study of U.S. students in grades 3–11. Journal of School Psychology, 69, 56–72. https://doi.org/10.1177/02711214020220020101

Type of Study: Pretest-posttest study with a nonequivalent control
Number of Participants: Study 2 (n=70,998); Study 3 (n=31,675)

Population:

  • Age — 3rd–11th grade (approx. age=7–18 years)
  • Race/Ethnicity — Study 1 (62% White, 5% Black or African American, 4.5% Hispanic or Latino, 11.5% Other, & 17% Missing data; Study 2 (61% White, 4.5% Black or African American, 3.2% Hispanic or Latino, 11.2% Other, & 20.1% Missing data)
  • Gender — Study 1 (50.5% Male, 49% Female, and 0.4% Missing data); Study 2 (50.4% Male, 49.2% Female, and 0.4% Missing data)
  • Status — Participants were children and youth in grades 3–11.

Location/Institution: 49 counties in southern and central Pennsylvania

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
The purpose of this quasi-experimental study was to evaluate a large-scale implementation of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program with children and youth in grades 3–11 in the U.S. Two major sets of analyses are presented, one following 210 schools over two years (Study 1; n=70,998 at baseline) and the other following a subsample of 95 schools over three years (Study 2; n=31,675 at baseline). Measures utilized include the Olweus Bullying Questionnaire (OBQ). Results indicated that for almost all grades there were clear reductions in the two key dimensions: being bullied and bullying other students. Average absolute change amounted to approximately 3%, implying that almost 2000 students had escaped being bullied in the two-year study. School-level Cohen's d's were large or fairly large. The longitudinal analyses documented increases in students' expressions of empathy with bullied peers, marked decreases in their willingness to join in bullying, and perceptions that their primary teacher had increased their efforts to address bullying. Overall, effects were stronger the longer the program had been in place. Limitations include study did not employ an experimental design using random assignment of schools to intervention or control conditions, inability to rule out possible effects of other school-based programs that may have been implemented within intervention schools during the evaluation period, and findings can be primarily generalized to schools in Pennsylvania with a demographic predominance of White students from schools in primarily suburban and rural locales.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 2 and 3 years.

Olweus, D., Limber, S. P., & Breivik, K. (2019). Addressing specific forms of bullying: A large-scale evaluation of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. International Journal of Bullying Prevention, 1, 70–84. https://doi.org/10.1207/s19309325nhsa0601_6

Type of Study: Pretest-posttest study with a nonequivalent control
Number of Participants: 31,620

Population:

  • Age — 3rd–11th grade (approx. age=7–18 years)
  • Race/Ethnicity — 61% White, 4.5% Black or African American, 3.2% Hispanic or Latino, 11.2% Other, and 20.1% Missing data
  • Gender — 50.4% Male, 49.2% Female, and 0.4% Missing data
  • Status — Participants were students in grades 3–11.

Location/Institution: 49 counties in southern and central Pennsylvania

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This study uses a subset of Limber et al. (2018). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) in reducing specific forms of bullying—verbal bullying, physical bullying, and indirect/relational bullying, as well as cyberbullying and bullying using words or gestures with a sexual meaning. Measures utilized include the Olweus Bullying Questionnaire (OBQ). Results showed that OBPP was successful in reducing all forms of being bullied and bullying others. Analyses by grade groupings (grades 3–5, 6–8, and 9–11) revealed that, with only a few exceptions, there were significant program effects for all forms of bullying for all grade groupings. For most analyses, program effects were stronger the longer the program was in place. Most analyses indicated similar and substantial effects for both boys and girls, but a number of program by gender interactions were observed. Program effects for Black and White students were similar for most forms of being bullied and bullying others. Although Hispanic students showed results that paralleled the development for Black and White students for particular grade groups and variables, they were overall somewhat weaker. Limitations include nonrandomization of participants, reliance on self-reported measures, and generalizability due to ethnicity of participants.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 1-3 years

Olweus, D., Solberg, M. E., & Breivik, K. (2020). Long‐term school‐level effects of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP). Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 61(1), 108–116. https://doi.org/10.1111/sjop.12486

Type of Study: Pretest–posttest study with a nonequivalent control
Number of Participants: 172 elementary school

Population:

  • Age — 1st-7th grades (approx. 5-13 years)
  • Race/Ethnicity — Not specified
  • Gender — Not specified
  • Status — Participants were elementary schools grades 1-7 with continued and repeated use of the Olweus Bullying Questionnaire (OBQ).

Location/Institution: Norway

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
The study assesses the efficacy of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP). Measures utilized include the Olweus Bullying Questionnaire (OBQ) and the National Pupil Survey. Results indicated that A-schools (i.e., elementary schools) with continued use had changed their “school culture” for the better with regard to awareness, preparedness, and competence in handling and preventing bullying. Limitations included nonrandomization of intervention group, reliance on self-reported measures, and lack of follow-up.

Length of postintervention follow-up: None

Additional References

Olweus, D., & Limber, S. P. (2010). Bullying in school: Evaluation and dissemination of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 80(1), 124–134. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1939-0025.2010.01015.x

Olweus, D., & Limber, S. P. (2019). The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP): New evaluations and current status. In P. K. Smith (Ed.), Making an impact on school bullying (pp. 23-44). Routledge.

Ttofi, M. M., & Farrington, D. P. (2009). What works in preventing bullying: Effective elements of anti-bullying programmes. Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, 1(1), 13–24. https://doi.org/10.1108/17596599200900003

Contact Information

Jan Urbanski
Agency/Affiliation: Clemson University
Website: olweus.sites.clemson.edu
Email:
Phone: (864) 656-6271

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: May 2020

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: September 2020

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: October 2020