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School-Based Anti-Bullying Interventions Work!

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A group of middle school students wearing backpacks smiling and running down a school hall together.

Schools can have an important role in creating safe and supportive spaces for students to learn and grow.1 Based on a systematic review of available evidence,2 the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) released a recommendation in April 2022 for school-based anti-bullying interventions to reduce bullying experiences and improve students’ mental health.

These interventions aim to prevent bullying both inside and outside of school. School-based anti-bullying interventions can provide:

  • Group education sessions to help students change how they think and feel about bullying
  • Training for school staff on how to identify and respond to bullying experiences

Major Findings from the Systematic Review

The CPSTF recommendation is based on a systematic review of 69 studies conducted by a team of experts in youth violence prevention and systematic review methods. Results showed interventions led to the following outcomes:

  • Fewer instances of students bullying others (35 studies)
  • Fewer instances of students who experienced bullying (32 studies)
  • Improvements in students’ anxiety, depression, and well-being (20 studies)
  • Fewer instances of cyberbullying perpetration and victimization (5 studies)

Who is the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF)?

CPSTF is an independent, nonfederal panel of 15 public health prevention experts who provide evidence-based recommendations and findings on programs, services, and other interventions to protect and improve population health. Established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 1996, CPSTF is supported by 32 liaison organizations that represent the federal government and national organizations committed to improving our nation’s health. Based on rigorous systematic review methods, CPSTF recommendations are the gold standard for what works to protect and improve population health.

Why is the CPSTF Recommendation Important?

Bullying is common and negatively impacts all involved.

  • 1 in 5 high school students reported being bullied on school property.3
  • 1 in 6 high school students reported being bullied electronically.3

CPSTF recommendations can help communities and schools save time and money when deciding how to use limited resources. Communities can use the CPSTF recommendation to support decisions about whether to start or continue school-based anti-bullying programs. School-based anti-bullying interventions may also be used to complement community-based efforts to prevent community violence.

Share information about this review with school administrators and decision makers in your community! Read the CPSTF recommendation and systematic review evidence for school-based anti-bullying interventions and access promotional materials, including a one-page summary to share with others. Also consider following @CPSTF and @CDCInjury or post messages about the recommendation to social media.

Are More Resources Available to Prevent Bullying?

Several free, publicly available resources provide guidance on bullying prevention.

  • 1Public Health Service. Office of the Surgeon General. Protecting Youth Mental Health: The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Office of the Surgeon General, 2021.
  • 2Fraguas D, Diaz-Caneja CM, Ayora M, Duran-Cutilla M, Abregu-Crespo R, et al. Assessment of school anti-bullying interventions: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. JAMA Pediatrics 2021;175(1):44-55.
  • 3 a b Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth risk behavior surveillance—United States, 2019. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report--Surveillance Summaries 2020;69(SS1).