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Popular anti-bullying program may deliver mixed results

by Sharita Forrest / Jan 16, 2015

Dorothy Espelage leads study on social-emotional learning program

Bullying and youth violence expert Professor Dorothy Espelage led a study— funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—that examined the effectiveness of the popular social-emotional learning program Second Step, the largest examination of the organization to date. She and co-authors Eric C. Brown, Sabina Low, and Joshua R. Polanin found that Second Step shows promise at reducing gender- and sexual-based violence. However, the study also revealed that the program’s efficacy may vary between geographic regions, and it may not directly reduce bullying, physical aggression, and victimization.

Second Step’s lack of impact on bully perpetration and peer victimization was not surprising, according to the researchers. Recent studies have shown that bully prevention programs appear to be most effective with children in grades one through six, but their efficacy drops sharply with seventh-graders, and plummets to zero with eighth-graders.

Second Step’s potential for preventing gender- and sexual-based violence is encouraging because these behaviors are emerging as significant public health concerns and have been found to be precursors to dating violence, Espelage said.

Read the full article by Sharita Forrest of the Illinois News Bureau.