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Involving parents in school-based programmes to prevent and reduce bullying: what effect does it have?

Nick Axford (The Social Research Unit, Dartington, UK)
David P. Farrington (Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK)
Suzy Clarkson (Centre of Evidence Based Early Interventions, Bangor University, Bangor, UK)
Gretchen J. Bjornstad (The Social Research Unit, Dartington, UK)
Zoe Wrigley (The Social Research Unit, Dartington, UK)
Judy Hutchings (School of Psychology, Bangor University, Bangor, UK)

Journal of Children's Services

ISSN: 1746-6660

Article publication date: 21 September 2015




The purpose of this paper is to describe how and why school-based programmes to prevent or reduce bullying involve parents, and what impact involving parents has on bullying.


A review of relevant literature, in particular systematic reviews and meta-analyses.


The logic of involving parents in school-based bullying prevention programmes is that this increases the likelihood of parents first, telling schools that their child is being bullied, which in turn enables the school to act appropriately, and second, being able to address bullying-related issues effectively at home. Parent involvement is associated with a reduction in bullying but further research is needed to determine if it is a causal factor. Programmes tend not to include a parenting education and support element, despite negative parenting behaviour being associated with children being a victim or a bully/victim.

Practical implications

There is good reason to involve parents in school-based bullying prevention. Given the parenting risk factors for bullying perpetration and victimisation, bullying prevention programmes could also usefully offer parenting education and support.


The paper focuses exclusively on the role of parents in school-based bullying prevention programmes. It articulates the logic of involving parents and summarises the impact of parent involvement.



Nick Axford, Suzy Clarkson, Gretchen Bjornstad, Zoe Wrigley and Judy Hutchings wish to acknowledge the support of the Big Lottery Innovation Fund in Wales for funding the implementation and evaluation by RCT of the KiVa programme in Wales.

Declaration of potential conflict of interest: Suzy Clarkson and Judy Hutchings were trained by the University of Turku in Finland (home to the KiVa programme) to train school staff in the KiVa programme for the purposes of the RCT in Wales (, and have since been licensed to train other schools as well. As Nick Axford is Co-Editor of the Journal of Children ' s Services, the Guest Editor, Tracey Bywater, dealt with all aspects of the peer review process for this article, thereby ensuring that it remained double-blind.


Axford, N., Farrington, D.P., Clarkson, S., Bjornstad, G.J., Wrigley, Z. and Hutchings, J. (2015), "Involving parents in school-based programmes to prevent and reduce bullying: what effect does it have?", Journal of Children's Services, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 242-251.



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