Impact of Bullying Research
‘Reducing the impact of bullying victimisation on children’s mental health outcomes’
Macquarie University, NSW
“Parents and children work together so that children learn new skills to manage anxiety symptoms as well as simultaneously respond to the negative behavior of other children.”
Dr Sally Fitzpatrick is a Clinical Psychologist and researcher at the Centre for Emotional Health, in the Department of Psychology, at Macquarie University. She has been working with children and families for over twenty years and is passionate about understanding the factors that contribute to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.
Her research focuses on peer bullying and mental health, with a particular focus on the translation of research into evidence-based interventions that reduce bullying and the negative outcomes associated with bullying behaviours.
Bullying is a significant social problem with marked health ramifications, as well as high personal and social costs. One in four Australian children report being victimized during a given school year and around 10-15% experience repeated and severe victimization. Studies have shown that over the long-term, peer victimization is associated with mental health problems such as anxiety, mood disorders, and even suicide. Understanding the link between victimization and anxiety is particularly important as anxiety is the most prevalent internalizing disorder among Australian youth and one of the largest contributors to disability in young Australians.
The relationship between victimization and anxiety is complex. Not only is victimization associated with an increased risk for anxiety, but heightened anxiety may also be associated with an increased risk for victimization. This vicious cycle between victimization and anxiety can be difficult to break for vulnerable children. The Cool Kids – Taking Control program was therefore developed specifically for children who are both victimised and experience high levels of anxiety. This online program teaches children skills to help them feel more confident, act in constructive ways if they are bullied, and learn how to respond and cope effectively if bullying makes them feel worried, sad or angry.
The aim of this project is to conduct a randomised control trial to test the efficacy of the Cool Kids – Taking Control program with primary school aged children (7-12 years). It is expected that the program will lead to a reduction in both victimization and anxiety, as well as improvement in quality of life.
Co-Investigators: Prof Jennie Hudson, A/Prof Kay Bussey & Prof Ron Rapee