LAWRENCE — Although Kansas law requires schools to have an anti-bullying policy, schools may struggle to translate this legal obligation into effective policies and practices to prevent and intervene with this pervasive problem. A team of University of Kansas researchers has been awarded a contract to develop a model anti-bullying policy that will help schools across the state develop similar policies, clearly define bullying and implement evidence-based strategies for dealing with bullying-related issues.
Anne Williford, assistant professor of social welfare, is the principal investigator for the project, granted by the Kansas Department of Education. She will collaborate with Patricia Hawley, associate professor of developmental psychology; Todd Little, director of the Center for Research Methods and Data Analysis; Eric Vernberg, professor of clinical child psychology; and Paula Fite, assistant professor of clinical child psychology.
“Essentially what this contract aims to do is create a model antibullying policy that individual schools can then tailor to their unique needs,” Williford said. “We know that schools sometimes struggle to identify, track and address incidents of bullying. Our goal is to create user-friendly resources schools can use to address this problem through providing training for school personnel across the state, creating a web-based resource for school districts and providing ongoing technical assistance for school staff. We’ll also provide schools with recommendations for addressing the all-too-common consequences of bullying, particularly for victims, like social and emotional difficulties that may require further supports to be put in place.”
“We believe for anti-bullying efforts to be effective, you have to have a comprehensive anti-bullying policy,” Williford said. “It not only protects students but the schools themselves. By clearly defining bullying behaviors that are strictly prohibited and by detailing the consequences children will face, school personnel, parents, students and community members alike will know the district takes this problem seriously and will understand the steps the district will take to address these issues.”