NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Programs Can Curb Bullying

September 12, 2003

Preventing kids from becoming bullies and intervening to get bullies back on track can not only protect children from the pain that bullying inflicts immediately, but can protect all of us from crime later on, says a new report by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a national advocacy group. Fortunately, programs have been developed that can cut bullying by as much as 50 percent.

  • The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program developed in Norway produced a 50 percent reduction in bullying and other antisocial behavior there, and cut bullying 20 percent in a South Carolina test.
  • Compared to Linking the Interests of Families and Teachers (LIFT) participants, fifth graders whose schools did not receive the program were by eighth grade 59 percent more likely to drink alcohol regularly, and two times more likely to have been arrested during middle school than those who received the program.
  • The Incredible Years, which was originally designed for children ages two to eight with high levels of aggressive behavior, stopped aggression in approximately two-thirds of the families receiving help.

Bullying prevention programs are relatively inexpensive for the results they deliver, says the group. The upfront training and supply cost for delivering both the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program and LIFT programs throughout a school district are only a few thousand dollars. Moreover, these investments will more than pay for themselves by reducing special education costs and future crime.

For example, special education classes for 12 years for one child with emotional problems can cost $100,000 more than regular schooling. Professor Mark A. Cohen of Vanderbilt University estimated that each high-risk juvenile prevented from adopting a life of crime could save the country $1.7 million.

Source: James Alan Fox, Delbert S. Elliott, R. Gil Kerlikowske, Sanford A. Newman and William Christeson, "Bullying Prevention Is Crime Prevention," Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, September 4, 2003.


Browse more articles on Government Issues