Boise State researchers receive grant to combat bullying

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Two researchers from the College of Education recently received a $66,000 grant from the National Institute on General Medical Health to evaluate a bullying bystander intervention program to help combat bullying in middle schools. The money will go to funding the project with a mixed-race, low income, rural middle school.

This team will be working with a rural, mixed-race middle school that is implementing a bystander intervention for bullying program developed at Boise State that trains middle school students on what to do when they are witnesses to bullying at school.

“This project is a year-long project and in the fall we trained students in the STAC intervention and then conducted focus groups to obtain their feedback to adapt the program to be appropriate and reflect students’ experiences at a mixed-race school,” said Aida Midgett, associate professor of Counselor Education at Boise State. “In the spring, we will conduct a randomized control trial to evaluate the efficacy of the program and we will also conduct qualitative interviews to learn about students’ experiences that were trained in the program.”

STAC stands for four bullying intervention strategies that they teach students at school. Those strategies include: stealing the show, turning it over, accompanying others and coaching compassion.

Through this method, they hope to discover what works and what doesn’t. With the students’ feedback, they will be able to do so. This randomized trial will help to get honest results from the students and also the trainees from the program.

“We also know that there’s negative consequences for students who report just witnessing bullying as bystanders. About 80 percent of students have witnessed bullying at some point, and more than 20 percent of students say they have been a victim of bullying,” Midgett said.

The researchers at Boise State’s College of Education are doing all they can to resolve this issue of one in four students reporting being victims of bullying at school.

“It’s almost 2018 and my little sister still comes home crying because kids at her school call her racial slurs,” said sophomore computer science major Daniel Rivera.

These inclusive, school-wide bully prevention programs have the potential to place a high demand on schools, often requiring significant time and financial resources. However, this prevention program developed by Midgett, called STAC, is a quick, stand-alone bystander program that teaches students strategies they can use to intercede in bullying situations and be “defenders.” With this program, only a low demand is placed on school personnel, and it can be adopted by a variety of schools. Midgett and her colleagues hope to have it be used in schools across the Treasure Valley and even across the United States.

“STAC was originally designed for the elementary and middle school level, and we have adapted it for high school. This is our next step in adapting it to a mixed-race middle school in a low-income, rural community,”  Midgett said.

The grant from the National Institute on General Medical Health is making it possible for the team to evaluate STAC’s impact in a local mixed-race middle school.

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