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The Friendly Schools body of research since 1999 has contributed to societal impacts related to improvements in the health and wellbeing and other developmental outcomes for Australian children and adolescents.

FS research has been refined and empirically tested in Australia over the past 20 years (since 1999) through 15 major research projects (including 7 randomised control trials) involving over 30,000 students, their teachers, parents and school leaders in 255 schools. This program has been evaluated more rigorously and over a longer duration than any other bullying prevention program in Australia.

Over 3000 Australian schools have been recorded by the publishers to have implemented Friendly Schools resources since 2005. It is also being used in schools in the USA, Canada, UK, Singapore, South Africa and NZ

Over 70 peer review publications have been published from FS research data detailing findings including the effectiveness of FS in consistently reducing student bullying behaviours.

Friendly Schools research has significantly influenced national and state policy in WA, QLD, SA, VIC and NSW and national and international policy.

Professor Donna Cross: Head, Health Promotion and Education Research; Director, CoLab

Professor Donna Cross

The Friendly Schools research is as important now as it was when we began it 20 years ago – if not more so. 

With the emergence and increasingly visibility of cyberbullying, schools and communities are realising that bullying is not just a normal part of childhood, but can result in significant long-term damage. New fields of research suggest that severe social stress can even affect gene expression, leading to long-term chronic physical and mental health problems.

If we can help students negotiate stressful social circumstances and prevent bullying from occurring to themselves and to others, we can have a significant positive impact on their future.

I'm also passionate about the research because there is such a need for it – I regularly receive requests for advice from worried parents and schools struggling to address bullying with limited support and resources.

A key focus of FS is to provide training and strategies to parents, students and school staff, so they can feel empowered to help children prevent and cope with social difficulties.  

 Finally, I feel strongly that young people have the right to contribute to research efforts that involve them, and I have found it very rewarding to work with students to co-develop strategies to prevent bullying. They understand online environments better than most adults, and frequently come up with insightful suggestions and creative ideas to help other young people, and adults.


How to respond if your child is being bullied


Top ten tips for cyber safety

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