Research Supports Safe School Ambassadors® Program

The Safe School Ambassadors program is built on a solid foundation of research, including the work of three pioneers in the field of bullying prevention: Dr. Wendy Craig, Dr. Ron Slaby and Dr. Dan Olweus. Download a PDF summary of their findings.

Through his ground-breaking research, Dr. Olweus found that:

  • A school-wide approach is needed, especially to address the bullying that occurs outside the classroom (e.g., in hallways, PE, lunchroom, and schoolyards).
  • If bullying behavior is ignored, it becomes the norm. When it is recognized and addressed, positive behavioral norms can be created and reinforced. Over time, these make bullying unacceptable.

However, many students report that school staff members do not intervene to stop bullying. Through her extensive field study, Dr. Wendy Craig established that:

  • Adults rarely see or hear the bullying and mistreatment students experience, and don’t intervene.
  • The corresponding lack of intervention implies that bullying is acceptable.

Fortunately, the work of Dr. Ron Slaby points toward a solution. He found that:

  • Peer bystanders were present in 85% of bullying situations, and they play a key role in resolving conflicts and preventing cruelty and violence.
  • Adolescents can learn skills to solve problems in nonviolent ways.

Promoting intervention by the student bystanders who witness mistreatment is seen as a promising way of reducing bullying in schools. “Positive peer pressure is an important component of effective intervention,” says Tom Tarshis, director of the Bay Area Children’s Association and coauthor of the 2007 Stanford University study on the prevalence of bullying in elementary students. “When uninvolved students step up and let the perpetrator know that their behavior is not acceptable, it’s a powerful message.”

Multiple studies further indicate that not all bystanders are equal. Those who have social status or influence – they are well-liked by their immediate peers and are perceived as leaders – are more likely to get involved to stop bullying, and are more likely to be effective when they do take action.

Literature Review on Bullying and Its Prevention: Implications for the Safe School Ambassadors® Program.

This review of bullying prevention literature validates the logic model at the core of the SSA program. Prepared by OMNI Research and Training, Denver, Colorado. Click here to read the Review on Bullying and Its Prevention.

Asset-Building Power of the Safe School Ambassadors® Program

Through decades of research involving millions of youth, the Search Institute has articulated 40 Developmental Assets that youth need to succeed in school and life. Of these 40 Assets, the SSA program reinforces at least 28. Click here to Learn more

SSA Program Evaluation Report

A multi-year evaluation conducted in partnership with Texas State University, San Marcos and the University of Georgia, Athens, and completed in 2011 found several statistically significant outcomes:
- increased rates of intervention in bullying incidents by male Ambassadors;
- improved school climate among friends of Ambassadors, who also reported increased rates of intervention in bullying incidents by their peers;
- suspension rates averaged 33% lower than pre-SSA rates at schools that implemented the program as designed, while rates at demographically matched control schools rose 10% during the same years.
Download Executive Summary
Download Full Report