What are the critical elements in safe school legislation to prevent bullying?
Research shows that effective school policies mean less bullying and a better school climate, but there is a limited understanding of the connection between evidence-based policy and the prevalence of bullying and victimization. The goal of this research is to determine if regional differences in policy and legislation are associated with the prevalence of bullying in Canada and the United States. Does policy predict differences at the regional level, as well as between countries? What are the critical elements within these policies and legislations that predict bullying and victimization? This study used archival data from the Canadian sample of the 2013/2014 Health Behavior in School-Aged Children (HBSC) survey. A total of 30,153 students from across Canada participated. Each legislation was coded based on a checklist reflecting best practices in the literature. High scores reflected a large quantity of evidence based policy items. Mplus 7.3 was used for multilevel modeling, with MLR estimator to account for the non-normality of the bullying variables. This study found there were national and regional differences in the evidence-base of bullying policies. There was a negative association between the comprehensiveness of a region’s anti-bullying policy and the prevalence of bullying behaviour in that region. There is a negative relationship between the number of evidence based policy items in Canadian legislation and the prevalence of bullying and victimization. Further research is needed to explore the relationship between evidence based policies and the prevalence of bullying and victimization over time.