While bullying behaviour in schools is widespread and harmful, research conducted at the Child Health Promotion Research Centre (CHPRC) at Edith Cowan University and the Telethon Kids Institute and elsewhere suggests bullying behaviour can be reduced. The CHPRC research team’s ongoing research, via 11 large empirical studies conducted since 1999, has focused primarily on what schools can do to effectively prevent and reduce bullying behaviour. CHPRC research studies have identified ways to strengthen whole-school approaches to reduce all forms of bullying (including cyberbullying) in primary through secondary schools. These projects have reduced intentional harm from bullying among children and adolescents and raised awareness of the impact that peers, families, schools and communities can have in preventing bullying behaviour.The Friendly Schools initiative derives from this CHPRC research.

For more details about each of the 11 individual projects that form the basis of the Friendly Schools initiative, click on the below icons to learn more.
Successfully bullying practice resource

The Friendly Schools study (2000-2002) involved the development of a whole-school intervention to reduce bullying among primary school students. The intervention was tested as part of a randomised control trial with approximately 2000 students in Year 4, and their teachers and parents. The intervention had success in reducing bullying victimisation and increasing help-seeking, but further research was needed to enhance the intervention’s effectiveness.

  • Cross, D., Monks, H., Hall, M., Shaw, T., Pintabona, Y., Erceg, E., & Lester, L. (2011). Three‐year results of the Friendly Schools whole‐of‐school intervention on children’s bullying behaviour. British Educational Research Journal, 37(1), 105-129.

The follow-up study, Friendly Schools Friendly Families (2002-2004) built upon previous findings and involved over 4000 students in Years 2, 4 and 6, their teachers and parents. This randomised control trial showed significant reductions in bullying among students who received the intervention.

  • Cross, D., Waters, S., Pearce, N., Shaw, T., Hall, M., Erceg, E., & Hamilton, G. (2012). The Friendly Schools Friendly Families programme: Three-year bullying behaviour outcomes in primary school children. International Journal of Educational Research, 53, 394-406.
  • Cross, D., Lester, L., Pearce, N., Barnes, A., & Beatty, S. (2016). A group randomized controlled trial evaluating parent involvement in whole-school actions to reduce bullying. The Journal of Educational Research, 1-13.

Several further projects have been used to extend, evaluate and improve the Friendly Schools resources.


The Supportive Schools Study (2005-2007) involved a three-year randomised cluster comparison trial with 21 Perth metropolitan secondary schools. It aimed to help students prevent or address the peak in bullying that occurs around the time of transition to secondary school. It had a positive impact on young people’s experiences of bullying, and feelings of safety, staff and peer support. The Solid Kids, Solid Schools study (2006-2009) engaged an Aboriginal Steering group and local Yamaji people to help develop and pilot test resources targeting young people, their teachers, families and community to reduce the bullying experiences of school-age Aboriginal people.

  • Coffin, J., Larson, A., & Cross, D. (2010). Bullying in an Aboriginal context. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 39(01), 77-87.

The Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study (2007-2008) triangulated data from over 20,000 students around Australian to better understand forms of bullying not easily observed by adults, including relational bullying and cyberbullying.

The Cyber Friendly Schools Project (2010-2012) was the world’s first randomised control trial to reduce the prevalence of cyberbullying. More than 3000 students participated, with intervention schools receiving training, resources, and support for a student ‘cyber leader’ program. The program was associated with significantly greater declines in the odds of involvement in cyber-victimization and perpetration from pre- to the first post-test, but teachers implemented only one third of the program, citing time constraints and a lack of confidence to teach cyber-related content.

  • Cross, D., Shaw, T., Hadwen, K., Cardoso, P., Slee, P., Roberts, C., … & Barnes, A. (2016). Longitudinal impact of the Cyber Friendly Schools program on adolescents’ cyberbullying behavior. Aggressive Behavior, 42(2), 166-180.
  • Cross, D., Lester, L., Barnes, A., Cardoso, P., & Hadwen, K. (2015). If it’s about me, why do it without me? Genuine student engagement in school cyberbullying education. International Journal of Emotional Education, 7(1), 35.

The five-year Strong Schools Safe Kids study (2010-2014) took the form of a series of in-depth case studies. It developed and tested strategies to build the capacity of schools, staff, students and parents to implement evidence-based actions to improve pastoral care support and mental health and wellbeing. The online Cyber Strong Schools resource was also developed to provide additional support in relation to young people’s online behaviour (friendlyschools.com.au/cyberstrong).

The findings from this series of studies have been used to optimise the effectiveness and relevance of the Friendly Schools Plus resource. More information about the resource, including samples, can be found at http://friendlyschools.com.au/fsp/

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