Olweus Bullying Prevention Program

The Olweus Program (pronounced Ol-VAY-us) is a comprehensive approach that includes schoolwide, classroom, individual, and community components. The program is focused on long-term change that creates a safe and positive school climate. It is designed and evaluated for use in elementary, middle, junior high and high schools (K-12). The program’s goals are to reduce and prevent bullying problems among school children and to improve peer relations at school. The program has been found to reduce bullying among students, improve the social climate of classrooms, and reduce related antisocial behaviors, such as vandalism and truancy. The Olweus Program has been implemented in more than a dozen countries around the world, and in thousands of schools in the United States.

This program is approved for WV Expanded School Mental Health.

Last reviewed: 2023

Intended Outcomes:

The goals of the OBPP are to:
  • reduce existing bullying problems among students
  • prevent new bullying problems
  • achieve better peer relations

These goals are pursued by restructuring the school environment to reduce opportunities and rewards for bullying, encouraging pro-social behaviors, and building a sense of community.

Continuum of Care:
Selective Prevention, Universal Prevention

Topic Areas:
Behavioral Health/Mental Health, Disruptive Behaviors

Childhood (4-12), Teen/Adolescent (13-18)

Geographic Locations:
Rural, Urban

Delivery Settings:
Community-Based, School-Based

Cultural Considerations:
Limited research found involving diverse populations

The OBPP is designed for students in elementary, middle, and high schools (students ages five to eighteen years old). All students participate in the universal aspects of the program, while students identified as bullying others, or as students being bullied, receive additional individualized interventions.

There are no minimum qualifications. All faculty and staff are involved in program implementation.


Is Training Required?
Yes, see developer info

Who can provide the required training?
Implementation of the program begins with a certified OBPP Trainer-Consultant or a trained Olweus Coach conducting a 12-hour training for a Bullying Prevention Coordinating Committee at the school. This is followed by ongoing consultation to provide assistance in the implementation of program elements, with particular attention to trouble-shooting challenges that may arise, and helping to maintain the program over time. School personnel may either locate an existing OBPP Certified Trainer-Consultant or have school personnel attend an Olweus Coach Training.

Program Costs (materials, training, etc.):
Yes, refer to program website

Program/Practice Website:

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research:

Sullivan, T. N., Farrell, A. D., Sutherland, K. S., Behrhorst, K. L., Garthe, R. C., & Greene, A. (2021). Evaluation of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program in US Urban Middle Schools Using a Multiple Baseline Experimental Design. Prevention Science, 22(3). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11121-021-01244-5

Limber, S. P., Olweus, D., Wang, W., Masiello, M., & Breivik, K. (2018). Evaluation of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program: A large scale study of U.S. students in grades 3–11. Journal of School Psychology, 69, 56–72.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsp.2018.04.004

Gaffney, H., Farrington, D. P., & Ttofi, M. M. (2019). Examining the Effectiveness of School-Bullying Intervention Programs Globally: a Meta-analysis. International Journal of Bullying Prevention, 1(1), 14–31. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42380-019-0007-4

Olweus, D., Limber, S. P., & Breivik, K. (2019). Addressing Specific Forms of Bullying: A Large-Scale Evaluation of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. International Journal of Bullying Prevention, 1(1), 70–84. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42380-019-00009-7

Ossa, F. C., Jantzer, V., Eppelmann, L., Parzer, P., Resch, F., & Kaess, M. (2020). Effects and moderators of the Olweus bullying prevention program (OBPP) in Germany. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 30(11).https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-020-01647-9

Gaffney, H., Ttofi, M. M., & Farrington, D. P. (2018). Evaluating the effectiveness of school-bullying prevention programs: An updated meta-analytical review. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 45(45), 111–133.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2018.07.001

Additional Sources:


Promising rating

WV Rating:
»WV Ratings Info

Rationale for Rating:

The program has demonstrated empirical support by large scale and longitudinal studies (e.g., 30,000+ students over 3 years, Olweus et al., 2019), as well as in meta-analyses (e.g., Ttofi & Farrington, 2011). Given its creator is from Norway, the program has been studied across countries and ages, which are viewed as strengths. Despite positive findings, research is limited in many ways. First, the literature is less in quantity than many other programs. Further, many found studies (and listed on their website) appear to either be conducted by or affiliated with the creator. Additionally, many citations on the program’s website are from reports, although some authors are by respected organization (e.g., CDC), the creator is often a reviewer. Finally, several concerns were found related to study designs, including limited diversity evaluations, no consideration for diagnosis/pathology/therapy/medication considerations in outcomes, and the focus on self-reported measures by teachers versus objective measures of bullying behaviors.

With consideration of limitations, the following primary outcomes were yielded:
Age: Per Olweus et al., (2019), the treatment is effective for 8th grade and under for outcomes including: verbal bullying, physical bullying, cyber bulling, reactions to bullying, perceptions of teachers, actions, bullying others. For grades 9-11 (Limber et al., 2018), findings were non-significant until the program was implemented for 2-3 years, at which point all factors became improved.
Race: The majority of the research focused on white children in Europe or America, with only one notable study focusing on African American students in urban schools (Sullivan et al., 2021). The study found that while effective, poor family participation in the family component resulted in researchers abandoning this family portion of the intervention.
Ethnicity: While Hispanics were included in some studies (e.g., Limber et al., 2018), outcomes were comparable to non-Hispanic individual.

Contraindications or Concerns:
No contraindications; however, there are several limitations (see Rationale for Rating).

Other Registries/Ratings

The California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare:
Promising Research Evidence

Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development:

Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness:
Unclear +

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Model Programs Guide:
Not On Registry

Washington State Institute for Public Policy:
Not On Registry