Bullying and mental health: the effects of Prima anti-bullying program in The Netherlands

M van Verseveld, M Fekkes

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic

4 Citations (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


Victimization among children is associated with adverse effects on their physical and psychological health. Many health complaints follow as a result of bullying and anxiety and depression also precede bullying. The Dutch school-wide antibullying program ‘Prima’ was developed based on techniques and scientific insights that are known to be effective. In this randomized trial we investigate the effects of school-wide antibullying program on bullying behavior and self-esteem and depression.

A total of 4,229 students of grade 3 to 6 of 31 primary schools
participated in this study. The schools were randomly assigned to three conditions. Condition A was offered a teachertraining, an online screening tool for bullying behavior, and a set of practice- and evidence-based guidelines to deal with difficult bullying situations. Condition B included all of condition A plus a series of eight lessons for the students. Condition C was the control group. A questionnaire was filled out by the students before and after the intervention.

Results from the pretest showed that 16% of the students was bullied regularly. There was a significant difference between bullied and non-bullied children in their reported mental health. Bullied students indicated much more depressive symptoms compared to non-bullied students (3,67 vs 1,67, p= .000). Bullied children also indicated lower self-esteem (16,74 vs 19,84, p = .000). The effects of the intervention program are currently analyzed and will be presented at the conference in the fall of 2018.

Bullying is strongly related to mental health issues among children. To address mental health issues among youth, schools should focus on evidence-based anti-bullying programs as a vital part of a wider school policy.
Key messages:
-Bullying has a strong impact on the wellbeing and mental health of children.
-School programs focused on preventing bullying can therefore reduce health complaints among children.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2018
EventEuropean Public Health Conference - Ljubljana, Slovenia
Duration: 29 Nov 20182 Dec 2018


ConferenceEuropean Public Health Conference


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