Using Peer Support as an Anti-Bullying Initiative (page 2)

— Bullying Special Edition Contributor
Updated on Apr 6, 2011

Factors Which Influence the Success of a Peer Support Scheme

Factors that influence the success of peer support schemes include:

  • Having one or two members of staff, responsible for establishing and co-ordinating the scheme, who have enough time to devote to it, and receive support (e.g. being allocated a room that is well located and resourced for the peer supporters to be based in, help in advertising the scheme and recruiting pupils).
  • Having support from senior management to encourage a well integrated scheme within the school which is accepted by students and members of staff alike.
  • Aiming for a gender balance in recruitment of peer supporters.Peer supporters have and retain high status in the peer group.
  • Giving peer supporters high quality training that continues via regular supervision and follow-up.
  • Advertising the scheme effectively throughout the school
  • Adopting a scheme that uses peer supporters effectively and does not stigmatize users of the system.

Students Must Feel Empowered for Bullying to Stop

It is crucial that students themselves are responsible for running the scheme. Empowering young people allows them to identify and meet the needs of their peers and gives the scheme greater kudos in the eyes of other pupils. Once the scheme is running, the job of the co-ordinating staff is to provide regular supervision and ensure adult support can always be reached. This mutual co-operation between teachers and pupils can in itself be a factor that has a positive impact upon the school climate as a whole.

Peer support represents a student driven anti-bullying initiative. Research suggests that when a whole school approach is used it is possible to create a successful scheme which provides valuable support for pupils and promotes a better school environment.


Cowie, H., & Hutson, N. (2005). Peer support: a strategy to help bystanders challenge school bullying. Pastoral Care in Education, 23, 40-44.

Ellis, L. A., Marsh, H. W., & Craven, R. G. (2005). Navigating the transition to adolescence and secondary school: A critical evaluation of the impact of peer support. In The New Frontiers of Self Research (pp. 323-349): Information Age Publishing

Naylor, P., & Cowie, H. (1999). The effectiveness of peer support systems in challenging school bullying: the perspectives and experiences of teachers and pupils. Journal of Adolescence, 22, 467-479.

Smith, P. K., & Watson, D. (2004). Evaluation of the CHIPS (ChildLine in Partnership with Schools) programme. Research report RR570 to DfES, London.

Additional Links and Suggestions for Further Reading ChildLine is part of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty in the United Kingdom and offers training for schools in peer support through the CHIPS programme. The Mentoring and Befriending Foundation supports a wide range of mentoring and befriending services within the United Kingdom. PeerSupport/Home/login.aspx The Peer Support Network is a group of development workers which aims to develop groups and voluntary organizations. Peer Resources is a membership based network which offers a large database of articles and resources on peer support. The Unit for School and Family Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London, specializes in social development research relating to children within schools and families. It has carried out a number of projects relating to peer support.

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