Olweus Bullying Prevention Program

Objective: Reduce existing bullying problems among students, prevent the development of new bullying problems, achieve better peer relations at school.

Description: The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) is an intervention for the reduction and prevention of bully/victim problems. The main arena for the program is the school, and school staff has the primary responsibility for the introduction and implementation of the program. Program targets are students in elementary, middle, and junior high schools. All students within a school participate in most aspects of the program. Additional individual interventions are targeted at students who are identified as bullies or victims of bullying.

Core components of the program are implemented at the school level, the class level, and the individual level. School-wide components include the administration of an anonymous questionnaire to assess the nature and prevalence of bullying at each school, a school conference day to discuss bullying at school and plan interventions, formation of a Bullying Prevention Coordinating Committee to coordinate all aspects of school’s program, and increased supervision of students at “hot spots” for bullying. Classroom components include the establishment and enforcement of class rules against bullying, and holding regular class meetings with students. Individual components include interventions with children identified as bullies and victims, and discussions with parents of involved students. Teachers may be assisted in these efforts by counselors and school-based mental health professionals.

Results: OBPP has been shown to result in:

  • A substantial reduction in boys’ and girls’ reports of bullying and victimization;
  • A significant reduction in students’ reports of general antisocial behavior such as vandalism, fighting, theft and truancy; and
  • Significant improvements in the “social climate” of the class, as reflected in students’ reports of improved order and discipline, more positive social relationships, and a more positive attitude toward schoolwork and school.

Population of Focus: Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, White, Hispanic or Latino, Children, Adolescents,

Setting: School, Urban, Suburban, Rural and/or frontier

Level of Intervention: Individual, Community

Resources/Qualifications Needed: School personnel are trained by certified Olweus trainers to implement this intervention. Aside from certified Olweus trainers, a Bullying Prevention Coordinating Committee at each participating school is important. The Bullying Prevention Coordinating Committee might consist of:

  • a school administrator (principal or assistant principal)
  • a teacher from each grade level
  • a school counselor, school psychologist, or other school-based mental health professional
  • a representative of the nonteaching staff (for example, playground monitors, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, or custodians)
  • one or two parents who are not employed by the school system
  • a representative from the community (if possible), such as after-school or youth program staff or representatives from the business or faith community who might have a stake in the results of the program
  • other school personnel (for example, a nurse or school resource officer) who may bring particular expertise to the committee.

Training, provided by a certified Olweus trainer, is important to help ensure that the Bullying Prevention Coordinating Committee at each school has the necessary information and strategies to successfully launch and sustain the OBPP with fidelity. The OBPP comprises three resources, including a Bullying Questionnaire and two manuals, as well as other materials. Schools that implement the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program have sought funding from many different sources, including the U.S. Department of Education Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, school district funds, and county health department funding. In some circumstances, Title I, Title IV, and Title V funds can be used for the program. City Block Grants are another possible funding source. Some schools have found eager sponsors from local businesses. Concerned parents have often given financial support and manpower support for bullying prevention efforts in their schools through their local PTA organization.

Background: Dr. Dan Olweus, a research professor of psychology from Norway, has spent several decades researching the issue of bullying to help keep children safe in schools and other settings. Today, Dr. Olweus is best known for the most researched and widely adopted bullying prevention program in the world, the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. Due to the program’s success in Norway and other countries, Dr. Olweus began working closely with American colleagues in the mid 1990s to evaluate and implement the program in the United States.With the help of Dr. Susan P. Limber of Clemson University in South Carolina and others, the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program was adapted and implemented for U.S. schools with positive results.

Additional Information:


  • Black, S. (2003). An ongoing evaluation of the bullying prevention program in Philadelphia schools: Student survey and student observation data. Paper presented at Centers for Disease Control’s Safety in Numbers Conference, Atlanta, GA.
  • Limber, S. P. (2004b). Implementation of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program: Lessons Learned from the Field. In D. Espelage & S. Swearer (Eds.) Bullying in American Schools: A Social-Ecological Perspective on Prevention and Intervention (pp. 351-363). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Olweus, D. (1991). Bully/victim problems among schoolchildren: Basic facts and effects of a school based intervention program. In D. J. Pepler & K. H. Rubin (Eds.), The development and treatment of childhood aggression (pp. 411-448). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do. Cambridge: Blackwell.
  • Olweus, D. (2004). The Olweus Bullying Prevention Programme: Design and implementation issues and a new national initiative in Norway. In P. K. Smith, D. Pepler, & K. Rigby (Eds.), Bullying in schools: How successful can interventions be? (pp. 13-36). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Olweus, D., Limber, S. P., & Mihalic, S. (1999). The Bullying Prevention Program: Blueprints for Violence Prevention, Vol. 10. Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence: Boulder, CO.


Marlene Snyder, PhD, OBPP Director of Development
Hazelden Foundation & Clemson University, Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life
Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina 29634