A Nationwide Trial of the KiVa Antibullying Program

Kärnä, A., Voeten, M., Little, T.D., Poskiparta, E., Alanen, E., & Salmivalli, C. (2011). Going to scale: A nonrandomized nationwide trial of the KiVa antibullying program for Grades 1-9. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 79, 796-805.

Bullying among youth has been associated with a range of mental health and behavioral problems, including depression, anxiety, poor academic performance, poor school attendance, suicide, and violence. In one of only a few large scale evaluations of bullying interventions, Kärnä, Voeten, Little, Poskiparta, Alanen, and Salmivalli (2011) assessed the effectiveness of the KiVa antibullying program, which was implemented in 888 schools in Finland.  The KiVa program is based on research indicating that bullies harass low-status victims to gain status within their peer group – and that bystanders’ reactions are central to the maintenance of bullying behavior. The KiVa program targets both students and adults.  Students are encouraged to support victimized peers through increased empathy, self-efficacy, and anti-bullying attitudes. Parents and school personnel are trained in strategies for preventing and intervening in bullying situations.  In order to eliminate maturation effects, since bullying behavior may change with age, this study used a type of quasi-experimental design called a “cohort-longitudinal design with adjacent cohorts.”  In this design, posttest data from students in each grade are compared with pretest data from students of the same age.  The authors explained (p. 798), “For instance, data from first-graders in May 2010 (when they have been exposed to the KiVa program for 1 year) were compared with data from students who were in Grade 1 in May 2009 and were not yet exposed to the intervention program.”  Comparison of treatment and control schools found that the KiVa program significantly reduced both bullying and victimization, although the effects were greater for students in grades 1-6 than for those in grades 7-9.

Making Connections

Adolescence
Aggression
Bullying
Bystander
Children
Empathy
Quasi-experimental design

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