Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

International Journal of Bullying Prevention




School of Medical and Health Sciences




Western Australian Health Promotion Foundation (Healthway), Project Number 18939 / Natasha Pearce and Kevin Runions were supported partially by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council's Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course (Project ID CE200100025) / Donna Cross was supported by NHMRC Research Fellowship GNT 1119339 / Jacinta Francis was supported by a Healthway Early Career Research Fellowship (#33020) / Open Access funding enabled and organized by CAUL

Grant Number

ARC Number : CE200100025 / NHMRC Number : GNT 1119339

Grant Link


Pearce, N., Monks, H., Alderman, N., Hearn, L., Burns, S., Runions, K., ... & Cross, D. (2022). ‘It’s All About Context’: Building school capacity to implement a whole-school approach to bullying. International Journal of Bullying Prevention, 1-16. Advance online publication.


Student bullying behaviours are a significant social issue in schools worldwide. Whilst school staff have access to quality bullying prevention interventions, schools can face significant challenges implementing the whole-school approach required to address the complexity of these behaviours. This study aimed to understand how schools’ capacity to implement whole-school bullying prevention interventions could be strengthened to promote sustainability and improve student outcomes. Qualitative methods were used to observe schools over time to gain insight into their implementation capacity to improve student social and emotional wellbeing and prevent and ameliorate harm from bullying. A four-year longitudinal, multi-site case study intensively followed eight schools’ implementation of Friendly Schools, an Australian evidenced-based whole-school bullying prevention intervention. Regular in-depth interviews with school leaders and implementation teams over four years led to the refinement of a staged-implementation process and capacity building tools and revealed four common drivers of implementation quality: (1) strong, committed leadership; (2) organisational structures, processes and resources; (3) staff competencies and commitment; and (4) translating evidence into local school policy and practice. This paper considers the strengths of qualitative data in understanding how and why bullying prevention interventions work as well as actions schools can take to enhance their implementation and sustainability of complex social interventions.



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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