Stepwise development a text messaging-based bullying prevention program for middle school students (BullyDown)

Research Project: BullyDown

Ybarra ML, Prescott TL, Espelage DL. Stepwise development a text messaging-based bullying prevention program for middle school students (BullyDown). JMIR mHealth uHealth. 2016;4(2):e60. doi: 10.2196/mhealth.4936.

Abstract:
BACKGROUND: Bullying is a significant public health issue among middle school-aged youth. Current prevention programs have only a moderate impact. Cell phone text messaging technology (mHealth) can potentially overcome existing challenges, particularly those that are structural (e.g., limited time that teachers can devote to non-educational topics). To date, the description of the development of empirically-based mHealth-delivered bullying prevention programs are lacking in the literature.

OBJECTIVE: To describe the development of BullyDown, a text messaging-based bullying prevention program for middle school students, guided by the Social-Emotional Learning model.

METHODS: We implemented five activities over a 12-month period: (1) national focus groups (n=37 youth) to gather acceptability of program components; (2) development of content; (3) a national Content Advisory Team (n=9 youth) to confirm content tone; and (4) an internal team test of software functionality followed by a beta test (n=22 youth) to confirm the enrollment protocol and the feasibility and acceptability of the program.

RESULTS: Recruitment experiences suggested that Facebook advertising was less efficient than using a recruitment firm to recruit youth nationally, and recruiting within schools for the pilot test was feasible. Feedback from the Content Advisory Team suggests a preference for 2-4 brief text messages per day. Beta test findings suggest that BullyDown is both feasible and acceptable: 100% of youth completed the follow-up survey, 86% of whom liked the program.

CONCLUSIONS: Text messaging appears to be a feasible and acceptable delivery method for bullying prevention programming delivered to middle school students.

PubMed ID: 27296471

Stepwise development a text messaging-based bullying prevention program for middle school students (BullyDown) (PDF)