BACKGROUND: Although nearly all states in the United States require school districts to adopt anti-bullying policies, little research examines the effect of these policies on student bullying and health. Using a statewide sample, we investigated associations between the quality of school district anti-bullying policies and student bullying involvement and adjustment. METHODS: School district anti-bullying policies (N = 208) were coded for their quality based on established criteria. District-level data were combined with student reports of bullying involvement, emotional distress, and school connectedness from a state surveillance survey of 6th, 9th, and 12th grade students (N = 93,437). RESULTS: Results indicated that policy quality was positively related to bullying victimization. Furthermore, students reporting frequent perpetration/victimization who also attended districts with high-quality policies reported more emotional distress and less school connectedness compared with students attending districts with low quality policies. Although statistically significant, the magnitude of these associations was small. CONCLUSIONS: Having a high-quality school district anti-bullying policy is not sufficient to reduce bullying and protect bullying-involved young people. Future studies examining policy implementation will inform best practices in bullying prevention.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Preparation of this manuscript was supported by a National Research Service Award in Primary Medical Care, grant no. T32HP22239 (PI: I.W.B.), Bureau of Health Professions, Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services and a Joanna Simer Memorial Fellowship to the first and second authors. Minnesota Student Survey provided by public school students in Minnesota via local public school districts and managed by the Minnesota Student Survey Interagency Team, 2010.
© 2017, American School Health Association
- bullying policy
- child and adolescent health
- school connectedness
- school policy