Taking a Health Promotion Approach to the Problem of Bullying
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Hodgins, M. (2008) 'Taking a Health Promotion Approach to the Problem of Bullying'. International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy, 8 (1):13-23.
Health promotion is an emerging, multidisciplinary, endeavour that has much to offer the study of bullying. The negative health impacts of bullying are well documented, and indicate that having been bullied is associated with poor outcomes in both physical and mental health for both school children and adults. Governments, organizations and communities can improve health and prevent ill-health. Health Promotion advocates a 'settings approach' which is underpinned by the premise that the way in which a setting effects health is a function of the general conditions of that setting, rather than the provision of specific health care services within in it. Theoretical approaches to the understanding of bullying have consistently drawn attention to the interaction of individual and organisational factors, and to the importance of contextual factors, in particular power relations. Successful interventions, particularly in the school setting, are consistent with the settings approach, for example the whole-school approach, which has been implemented and evaluated in a series of studies. It results in a marked reduction in the number of bully/victim problems, in anti-social behaviour generally, and an improvement in student satisfaction with school life. The case is strong for taking a settings approach to dealing with bullying. This requires a recognition that the health of individuals within organisations such as schools and workplaces, is effected by the whole organisation and way it conducts itself, and will only be effectively resolved by addressing the difficulties, although experienced at an individual level, through organisational policies and practices.
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