The WITS Programs: Changing the Context of Peer Victimization www.witsprogram.ca
What is peer victimization? Peer Victimization is the experience of being a target of a peer’s hurtful teasing and aggressive behavior Two subtypes of victimization: Physical Victimizationinvolves overt, direct actions aimed at causing a child bodily harm or threats of harm
Relational Victimizationinvolves covert, indirect actions directed at damaging a child’s social status in the peer group
Prevalence of Peer Victimization Approximately 1 in 10 children are persistently victimized by peers Frequency of victimization episodes is generally higher in the early elementary grades Episodes of victimization become more chronic in the late elementary grades
WITS Classroom and Community Resources Emergency Services Personnel Manual University Student/WITS Representative WITS Booklist Curriculum for Teachers and Librarians Activities for the Classroom and School Resource Pamphlets for Parents: Using Your WITS at Home Cyberbullying
What is Unique about the WITS Programs? The WITS Programs are community-based programs that: Call upon community champions including schools, families, and emergency services personnel to promote prosocial behaviors and to help children deal with peer victimization Take a comprehensive, multi-setting approach to reducing peer victimization and enhancing social competence at the school- and classroom-level Give a common language for children and adults to use to resolve conflicts peacefully
Indicators of Success WITS Program Evaluation 1 Participants & Data Collection Data were collected from eleven program schools and six control schools
Measures that were examined: Children’s ratings on: Physical Victimization How often are you hit by another kid at school? Relational Victimization How often does another kid tell lies about you to make other kids not like you anymore?
Understanding the findings Children in the WITS schools report more victimization. Why? All of the WITS program schools had the WITS program by the time this study was under way. Higher levels of reporting may reflect the program children’s greater awareness of what victimization is and their willingness to report it or “Seek Help”. Rates of victimization reported decline over the three years of elementary school for these children in program schools but not in the control schools.
Indicators of Success Follow-Up Study WITS Program Evaluation 2 Goals: To assess the effectiveness of the WITS Program with a broader & more independent sample of schools
WITS Program Evaluation 2 Participants & Data Collection Data were collected from six program schools and five control schools
Measures that were examined: Children’s ratings on: Physical Victimization (e.g., hitting, pushing) Relational Victimization (e.g., social exclusion, rumour-spreading) Peer Support (e.g., receiving help, being cheered up by classmates) Teacher’s ratings on: Social Responsibility (e.g., giving help to others, solving problems in peaceful ways)
Average Levels of Physical & Relational Victimization Physical Victimization The rate of decline in physical victimization was significantly greater in program than control schools Relational Victimization The rate of decline in relational victimization was greater in program than control schools Note:Children in program schools reported higher initial levels of physical & relational victimization, possibly due to a greater awareness of victimization created by the WITS Program
Average Levels of Peer Support & Social Responsibility Peer Support Levels of peer support did not significantly differ in program and control schools Social Responsibility Teachers of children in program schools reported higher average levels of social responsibility at each time point, compared to control schools.