City Connects APA Poster Looks at Bullying

City Connects team member Sarah Backe, a Counseling Psychology graduate student in the Lynch School of Education, presented a poster at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association last week. Her poster, “The Positive Impact of an Evidence-Based Student Support System on Bullying and Victimization” explored the impact that the City Connects intervention is having on students’ social experiences.

Sarah’s study utilized students’ self reports of bullying (picking on other kids) and victimization (being picked on by others) to examine whether time spent in City Connects was having an impact on these experiences. On the whole, students reported that they rarely engaged in bullying behavior toward their peers. However, student reports of victimization indicated that this happens at greater frequency. While exposure to City Connects was not associated with any changes in self-reported bullying behavior, results indicated that greater exposure to City Connects (i.e., more years spent in the intervention) was associated with student reports of less frequent victimization.

This exploratory study indicates that an optimized model of school-wide student support, such as that promoted by the City Connects intervention, may have positive impacts on peer victimization in schools. These findings suggest that prevention and intervention programs don’t need to be exclusively focused on bullying behaviors to have a positive impact on the social experiences of students in schools.

Sarah hopes that future research on optimizing student support will include consideration of the ways in which powerful experiences of the peer group may impact the achievement and thriving of students. She is excited by the results of her study and suggests that primary prevention programs such as City Connects should be utilized to promote the achievement and thriving of individual students while also promoting a supportive school climate.

Co-authors of this poster included Anastasia Raczek, MEd, and Mary E. Walsh, PhD.

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