Listen to the Kids: Tailoring a Bullying Prevention Program with Youth Input

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Carolina Silva, Jasmin Alves, Katrina England, Courtney Hammond, and Ethel Tackle-Yarbol; Westminster College

Psychology

Bullying among adolescents is a common problem that deserves attention. Youth City, a multi-site after school youth program in the Salt Lake City area catering to youths ages 8-13, expressed an interest in learning more about bullying experiences in their attendees with the aim of developing a program for intervention and prevention. We partnered with Youth City to develop the current project, the goals of which were twofold: (1) to measure the prevalence and types of bullying experienced by 53 youths attending one Youth City site (our participants) and, (2) to work with the youth and the site coordinator to develop a bullying intervention and prevention program. Participants completed a modified version of the Olweus Bully Victim Questionnaire, in which 31 behaviors of bullying were assessed. Behaviors included examples of physical bullying, relational bullying, cyber bullying, and bullying due to one’s ethnicity or sexuality. Participants were asked to report whether each behavior had ever been done to them (victim role), done by them to another (bully role), or witnessed by them in the role of bystander. Results showed that the participants had experienced many of the behaviors as either victims, bullies, or bystanders. The second step was to conduct focus groups in which participants were asked more about their bullying experiences and what they felt could be done to more effectively intervene and prevent bullying. Transcripts from the focus groups were analyzed for emergent themes. These themes, combined with input from staff and information gleaned from research into other programs, were used to draft a bullying intervention and prevention plan to be implemented at one Youth City site in the coming school year.