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posted on 16.01.2019 by El Zahraa Majed
Background. Despite on-going efforts to reduce bullying among adolescents, this phenomena remains a persistent public health problem (Espelage & Colbert, 2015). Positive youth development (PYD)-physical activity based programs have the potential to target health risk behaviors by focusing on positive psychological assets and promoting personal growth (Fraser-Thomas, Côté, & Deakin, 2005). Similarly, physical activity has been associated with physical and psychosocial benefits as it enhances the process of development, promote life skills, and foster personal and interpersonal skills through peers and non-parental adult interactions (Fraser-Thomas et al., 2005; Weiss, Smith, & Stuntz, 2008). While we know quite a bit about PYD programs and understand the importance of physical activity related to its influence on bullying behaviors, we know far less about the effectiveness of anti-bullying programs that combine both PYD with physical activity components. However, addressing this gap in the literature could inform prevention science research efforts as it would enhance understanding on how such interventions might decrease bullying in youth. This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of positive youth development (PYD) physical activity based interventions on bullying behaviors among pre- and young adolescents (8 - 14 years old). Methods. A systematic review was conducted and included a search of five databases (PsycINFO, PubMed, Cochrane Library, ERIC and CINAHL), and reference lists of included studies and reviews from 2003 to 2017. Additional information was requested from study authors. The study inclusion criteria included interventions that used both PYD and physical activity components, recruited participants who ranged in age from 8 to 14, and that targeted bullying behaviors (bullying, victimization, and bystander). Two independent reviewers assessed studies, and extracted data, and one reviewer evaluated risk of bias using the Cochrane risk of bias tool (Higgins, Sterne, Savović, Page, & Hróbjartsson, 2016). Studies were placed into two groups based on type of study (quasi-experimental and experimental). To determine effect sizes for the quasi-experimental designs and experimental designs, Pearson’s correlation coefficient (r) and standardized mean differences (SMD) were used, respectively. Results. Seven studies met the inclusion criteria, of which three were quasi-experimental and four were experimental studies. For bullying outcome, the quasi-experimental studies were found to have a small effect size (r = -.24 to -.22) while experimental designs had small, medium, and large effect size (SMD = -.68 to -.27). For victimization, a medium effect size was found in one study (SMD = -.53), and for bystander involvement, a medium effect size was found for unadjusted model (r = .37), and a small/negligent effect size was found for the adjusted model (r = -.05). Reductions in bullying and victimization, and increase in prosocial bystander behavior were found across the physical activity-based, PYD interventions, which utilized a combined approach of PYD components (e.g., caring, empathy, respect), and physical activity context, as well as the use of an interactive and supportive approach to deliver the program’s PYD component between the participants and staff. Selection bias, lack of blinding bias, attrition to follow-up bias, and failure to control for confounding were found across the studies, with experimental study designs reporting generally better quality than quasi-experimental. Conclusion. PYD-based, anti-bullying interventions with a physical activity component are promising in reducing bullying among adolescents. Findings revealed that the further interventions should be structured into a physical activity-based PYD setting that foster youth’s psychosocial development and provide them with opportunities to develop these PYD components in a mastery-oriented climate, which in turn may reduce problem behaviors The small number of studies identified strongly suggests that there remains a critical need for PYD-physical activity based interventions that target bullying behaviors.


Degree Type

Master of Science


Health and Kinesiology

Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Yumary Ruiz

Additional Committee Member 2

Steve Amireault

Additional Committee Member 3

Jason Reed