Anti-Bullying Programs In Schools May Do More Harm Than Good

But there is little evidence that it was the peer interventions themselves that caused the bullying to stop, and no indication that training peers to intervene would have the same effect as spontaneous interventions based on feelings of empathy and injustice, according to the researcher behind the new study.

Instead, she identified that training peers to get involved in a bullying incident could increase both the severity of victimization and the level of distress among victims.

Victims can feel disempowered if peers intervene to protect them, the presence of trained anti-bullying students can actually reinforce or provoke bullying, and interventions can erode wider peer support for the victim, the study found.