Strengthening Teachers in Their Role to Identify and Address Bullying among Students in Elementary Schools

Marloes van Verseveld

Research output: PhD thesisResearch HvA, graduation external


This dissertation examined how elementary school teachers can be strengthened in identifying and addressing bullying through a school-wide anti-bullying policy, and the effects of such programs on teacher competencies and student bullying behavior. A meta-analysis, a qualitative study, and an experimental study were conducted. The results of the meta-analysis showed that teachers can be strengthened in their competencies to intervene more frequently in bullying behavior and the extent to which they intervene. The qualitative study found that teachers need support in specific situations, such as identifying bullying in places with little supervision (including digital bullying), assessing the seriousness of a bullying situation, dealing with bullying and bullied children with socio-emotional behavioral problems, and dealing with resistance from parents when they want to work with them to find a solution to stop the bullying behavior. In contrast to the findings of the meta-analysis, the RCT study showed no improvements in teachers' competencies after the use of PRIMA. However, a relationship was found between competencies and the specific strategies a teacher deployed to address bullying. Furthermore, the RCT study showed significant decreases in peer-reported victimization of bullying when teachers implemented all universal program components. This finding suggests the importance of strengthening both students and teachers. Bullying remains a complex phenomenon for teachers, and implementation of such programs is fragile. It is possible that a school-wide program with multiple components requires a great deal of effort on the part of teachers. Based on our findings, we argue that elementary schools can benefit from evidence-based anti-bullying programs if indeed multiple components are adequately implemented.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Universiteit van Amsterdam, Research Institute of Child Development and Education
  • Fukkink, Ruben, Supervisor
  • Oostdam, Ron, Supervisor
  • Fekkes, Minne, Co-supervisor, External person
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2021


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