International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Volume 8 Num. 1 - March 2008


Taking a Health Promotion Approach to the Problem of Bullying

Volume 8 Num. 1 - March 2008 - Pages 13-23


Margaret Hodgins


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.

Key words:

bullying, workplace, health promotion, settings approach

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