The friendly schools initiative: Evidence-based bullying prevention in Australian schools

Amy Barnes, Natasha Pearce, Erin Erceg, Kevin Runions, Patricia Cardoso, Leanne Lester, Juli Coffin, Donna Cross

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter describes the development of the Friendly Schools programme as a response to concerns about the impact of bullying and cyberbullying in Australian schools. It begins by outlining key theoretical approaches that contributed to the research, including social ecological theory, family systems theory, and the importance of engaging youth voice. The chapter discusses the need for whole-school interventions targeting all levels and members of the school community and describes a progression of studies conducted by a team of Western Australian researchers in 1999–2018. This research culminated in Friendly Schools, a universal bullying prevention and social skills intervention which has been tested in seven randomized control trials and nine quasi-experimental studies, involving more than 300 primary and secondary Australian schools. The research has also addressed emerging forms of bullying, and Cyber Friendly Schools, a cyberbullying-prevention programme developed and evaluated with the active involvement of school staff, parents and students, is described. The process of commercializing Friendly Schools is discussed, with an analysis of the impact and legacy of the research. The chapter concludes with a discussion of key lessons learned from the process of conducting applied bullying prevention research in the context of the unique challenges posed by school environments.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMaking an Impact on School Bullying
Subtitle of host publicationInterventions and Recommendations
EditorsPeter K. Smith
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781351201940
ISBN (Print)9780815385295
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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