Family Involvement in a Whole-School Bullying Intervention: Mothers' and Fathers' Communication and Influence with Children

Document Type

Journal Article


Springer NewYork LLC


School of Medical and Health Sciences




Originally published as: Lester, L., Pearce, N., Waters, S., Barnes, A., Beatty, S., & Cross, D. (2017). Family involvement in a whole-school bullying intervention: Mothers’ and fathers’ communication and influence with children. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 26(10), 2716-2727. Original article available here


Research indicates that involving families in school efforts to prevent and manage bullying behaviour is essential to success. Parents can influence their children's involvement in bullying situations by modelling positive social behaviour, offering advice about appropriate responses to bullying, and encouraging help-seeking. This paper reports family-related findings from the three-year group randomized control trial of the Friendly Schools Friendly Families (FSFF) intervention, which provided training and whole-school, classroom and family resources to build the capacity of schools to prevent bullying victimization and perpetration. Over 1400 parents and carers of Grades 2, 4 and 6 school students completed a survey at baseline and two post-tests. Parents exposed to the FSFF parent component received resources about ways to reduce bullying, build parenting skills and enhance parent–child communication; they also completed home activities with their children; and were encouraged to engage with their children’s school to reduce bullying. Mothers and fathers reported significant increases in the frequency of discussions with their child about bullying. Mothers were more likely than fathers to give pro-social, passive and help-seeking advice compared to fathers, who were more likely to encourage their child to ‘fight back’. The intervention improved fathers’ perceptions of their influence on children’s responses to being bullied. These results highlight the importance of working with both male and female caregivers when addressing children’s bullying behaviour. The findings also demonstrate that a parent intervention can have a positive impact on parent–child communication about bullying when it is an integral part of a whole-school approach.