A pair of Windber Research Institute administrators say they have found the right prescription to bolster bullying prevention efforts in schools and the communities that support them.
Following a six-year, Highmark-funded look into anti-bullying efforts, a Windber Research Institute team lead by physician Matthew G. Masiello and Bullying Prevention Initiatives Director Diana Schroeder is outlining its findings in a book set for release later this month.
“When we were researching, we found there were a lot of programs out there for bullying prevention but there wasn’t a scientific, evidence-based approach,” Masiello said.
“This is really the first broad-based public health look on bullying prevention.”
The book, “A Public Health Approach to Bullying Prevention,” was developed to aid educators, pediatricians and others who regularly deal with bullying or fallout from it, he said.
Masiello, director of WRI’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, is a New York native with decades of pediatric experience who joined the research institute in 2008.
Masiello said bullying has become a U.S. epidemic, impacting 3.2 million students nationwide. He calls his book a practical and cost-efficient strategy to battle the problem.
Masiello said his team at WRI partnered with more than a dozen anti-bullying experts from across the globe to compile the book.
“If there are folks out there who want to understand bullying – how it affects those who bully and who are bullied, it’s a good book,” he said.
For their research, the team focused on a decades-old but effective anti-bullying program called the Olweus program.
“Unlike a lot of others, it’s a comprehensive program. But it didn’t involve parents or physicians. It was often implemented before schools were ready,” Masiello said.
Their book, published by the American Public Health Association, touts a more “community-based” approach to bullying prevention, he said.
It also delves into the physical, mental and public health issues bullying can create, Masiello said.
Cost-benefit comparisons of bullying prevention programs are also a focus.
“Schools that implement effective bullying prevention programs will save money down the road,” Masiello said, “because several children leave the typical school yearly because of bullying.”
The book is available through www.apha.org, the American Public Health Association’s website.