Tackling bias-based bullying in young children using a serious game approach: results from the GATE-BULL project

Roy Willems, Maria Sapouna, Leyla De Amicis, Trijntje Vollink, Frances Dehue, Ioannis Dimakos, Konstantina Priovolou, Giorgos Nikolaou, Rastislav Rosinsky

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Background: Bias-based bullying is a serious phenomenon having a negative impact on the well-being of children with socially devaluated identities or attributes. Driven by social-cognitive factors of stigma, intergroup theories and strategies are needed to tackle this form of bullying. The aim of the GATE-BULL project was to develop and evaluate a serious game and classroom lesson plan to encourage bystander intervention in weight-, ethnicity-, and religion-based bullying situations.

Methods: The intervention was a 4-week school-based intervention targeted at 9–13-year-olds and tested using a quasi-experimental design. In total, 578 children from The Netherlands, Scotland and Greece were included in analyses. Measures on self-efficacy and intention were self-construed; measures on intergroup anxiety and attitudes, moral disengagement, and peer norms were adapted from other research. Hypotheses were tested using MRA.

Findings: Results of the Netherlands show that children intervention group reported a more positive peer norm (p=.048, d=0.40); minority children reported higher confidence to defend other minority children (p=.010, d=0.65); and majority children reported to be less anxious towards Muslim children (p=.037, d=0.41). In Scotland, children reported higher intention to defend overweight children (p=.01, d=.25). In Greece, no effects were found.

Discussion: The intervention was received well by teachers and children and had some important effects on determinants of bystander behavior. The intervention was less effective in Scotland and Greece, which could be attributed to only white schools being included in the trial. The intervention shows much potential in setting a more inclusive classroom norm. However, additional research is recommended.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2021
Event35th Annual Conference of the European Health Psychology Society - Online
Duration: 23 Aug 202127 Aug 2021
https://2021.ehps.net/ (Conference website.)


Conference35th Annual Conference of the European Health Psychology Society
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