Bullying reduction and subjective wellbeing: The benefits of reduced bullying reach far beyond the victim


  • Roberta Ann Heydenberk Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA, USA, The Peace Center, Philadelphia, PA
  • Warren Robert Heydenberk Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA, USA, The Peace Center, Philadelphia, PA




bully, victim, bystander, subjective wellbeing, focus, affect, depression, school climate, bullying reduction


Numerous studies have revealed the relationship between bullying and an increased risk of depression, and suicidal ideation (Nansel, Overpeck, Saluja & Ruan, 2004; Card & Hodges, 2008; Harris, 2009; Wang, Iannotti, & Nansel, 2009: Lenci & Matuga, 2010).  The World Health Organization’s longitudinal, multi-national study of children’s subjective wellbeing found that school climate and the quality of children’s relationships are the most significant factors in predicting wellbeing (Klocke, Clair, & Bradshaw, 2014). Decades of research have revealed the benefits of healthy levels of subjective wellbeing (SWB). One of the major factors affecting subjective wellbeing is the quality of an individual’s social interactions (Diener, 2016). This three-year study of 1218 4th and 5th-grade students in 16 classrooms within eight suburban/urban schools assessed changes in students’ subjective wellbeing or happiness before and after implementation of a bullying prevention/intervention program. Three subgroups were identified: bullies, victims, and bystanders. As bullying declined in all of the three subgroups, significant positive prosocial pretest to posttest changes were identified on two Centers for Disease Control Bullying Compendium Modified Aggression Subscales (the Bullying Subscale and the Cooperative Caring Subscale). Statistically significant gains in subjective wellbeing were found within the largest group: the bystander (witness) student group, during each year of the three-year study. Although there were positive changes in measures of SWB in bullies and victims during the three-year study, the changes were not statistically significant.


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Author Biography

Roberta Ann Heydenberk, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA, USA, The Peace Center, Philadelphia, PA

Dr. Warren Heydenberk, Emeritus professor, and Dr. Roberta Heydenberk, teach in the College of Education, Lehigh University.  Roberta and Warren conduct research for several nonprofit organizations and they cofounded a nonprofit organization which porvides educational materials to students in war torn regions such as South Sudan.  Together they have published articles, chapters, and books on conflict resolution, and bullying/bias prevention.