In the landmark Youth Voice Project research study, authors Stan Davis and Charisse L. Nixon add youth voices to the national debate about bullying and peer mistreatment. They surveyed more than 13,000 students in 31 schools in the United States to determine which actions were most helpful for bullied and mistreated youth. This book presents what they learned from those students and presents major new directions in effective bullying prevention work.
This book presents a set of research-based, practical techniques for reducing the harm that bullying can do, building positive schoolwide behavior norms; increasing kind, inclusive behavior by peers; and addressing bias-focused bullying behavior. The book will help practitioners and policy makers listen to youth and improve their effectiveness in this crucial field.
Students’ views of what works—and doesn’t work—in response to bullying are enlightening and sometimes surprising: When asked what made things better or worse in a bullying situation, youth reported that actions involving peer alliance and friendship made things better and that it was effective to access help from others. However, some classic adult advice for youth on bullying, such as “telling them to stop” and “telling them how they’re making you feel,” actually made things worse more often than they helped youth.
Bridging the gap between research and practice, the text offers specific, workable suggestions for educators, administrators, parents, and all other stakeholders. Conclusions focus on ways to make schools safe, inclusive, and supportive environments for learning—specifically, by promoting efforts to improve school connections, social equity, and what the authors call the “Four Rs”: respect, relationships, resiliency, and responsiveness.
“Youth Voice Project offers a great deal of information and advice for school professionals in addressing peer mistreatment.…The Youth Voice Project successfully links survey data to important messages about a need for changes in the atmosphere of school systems.…The Youth Voice Project is a must-read for school psychologists, educators, and professionals working in schools who want inspiration and guidance in how to help identify and address issues of peer mistreatment, and more importantly, how to improve the success and well-being of the student youth—our future.”
—Hunter McEnroe, NCSP, school psychologist,
Communiqué, National Association of School Psychologists
“[Youth Voice Project] is the game-changer the field of bullying prevention has needed for some time. It debunks many cultural adult mindsets about bullying and clarifies what really works to provide safety and belonging to our marginalized students in school. The data present a treasure trove of fresh ideas, directly from students, on how adults and students can work together to build caring school communities.”
—Chuck Saufler, lead trainer for bullying education,
Maine Law and Civics Education Program,
University of Maine School of Law
“Not only did a growing understanding of the Youth Voice Project data help a school I was working with over the past year become a more positive environment for both students and staff, it also played a role in their movement from being designated Persistently Low Performing to being recognized as a Reward School. It clearly demonstrates how changes in our attitude and the way we engage students can make a BIG difference.”
Co-Founder, Michigan Bully-Free Schools Program
“Stan Davis’s signature insightfulness into the unique perspectives of young people, combined with Charisse Nixon’s keen research skills and developmental expertise, has produced one of the most valuable research projects in this field in the last five years.”
—Elizabeth K. Englander, PhD,
Director, Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center,
Bridgewater State University
“The Youth Voice Project findings have been an invaluable resource as we strive to debunk the societal myths and misperceptions surrounding bullying prevention and learn what truly helps kids develop prosocial relationships and resilience.”
community schools educator and school climate coordinator
“The Youth Voice Project gave us a true picture as to what strategies have actually helped students in cases of peer-to-peer aggression. The importance of this cannot be stressed enough as it is the students who are the eyes and ears of the school, and therefore they should be the ones to tell us what works and what doesn’t. These findings are instrumental in moving forward with this work and in making the necessary modifications to some of our misguided beliefs.”
—–Michelle B. MacPherson,
bullying prevention coordinator,
Moncton school system, New Brunswick, Canada
Click on the arrow in the screen below to view the video of author Stan Davis describing some of his views on bullying.
What is unique about your latest book, Youth Voice Project: Student Insights into Bullying and Peer Mistreatment?
This book comes from a collaboration between an experienced school counselor and a well-respected university researcher. It is also based on the only large-scale research study we are aware of that asked more than 13,000 children and teens what had actually worked for them in bullying situations. We conducted the survey that this study is based on in 2010–2011, and we continue to analyze and publish findings based on the data, with two peer-reviewed articles published recently in 2014. Since our original survey, we continue to collect data and revise the survey questions accordingly so that we can learn about specific ways to build students’ resiliency and lower at-risk behavior associated with bullying.
What was your most striking finding?
Mistreated youth told us that what helped them the most were acts of support, inclusion, and encouragement by peers. These bystander actions were more effective and less likely to contribute to negative outcomes than the much-advised strategy of having bystanders confront youth who bully. We view our research findings as a valuable resource for showing educators and caring adults specific ways they can be more effective in empowering students to take effective and safe actions.
How can what you learned from your research help schools to be more effective in preventing the harm that bullying can do?
Young people told us in detail which actions of their own, which actions by adults, and which actions by their peers had helped them the most and which actions had been least helpful in terms of making things better for them. Our book analyzes students’ replies in depth and allows schools to learn the most effective ways to support youth at all age levels, from grades 5 through 12. Our book analyzes differences between boys and girls, older and younger students, students with and without disabilities, white and nonwhite students. We ask and answer questions related to how we can reduce students’ emotional distress associated with different forms of bullying. The book presents a wide range of strategies based on what young people told us and based on other relevant research.
For additional information on Youth Voice Project: Student Insights into Bullying and Peer Mistreatment, visit the book page.
For additional biographical information, visit the author page for Stan Davis or Charisse L. Nixon.