Study Looks at Bully-Proofing Recess Playgrounds

There was an interesting study done on how to bully-proof a school playground that I found at the website. I pulled some highlights from the study findings referenced in the article that I am sharing here. In the article, it discusses techniques for setting up school playgrounds to create a better structured and prosocial setting. The findings from the study included:

  • Results from this study suggest that structured and cooperative games during school recess can have a strong impact on increasing childhood prosocial behaviors and decreasing behaviors found to lead to aggression and bullying (e.g., high levels of rough physical play).
  • Further, the role of active supervision among adults on the playground had beneficial effects, especially in promoting positive interactions among youth of diverse cultures.
  • The fact that this relatively-intensive study was enthusiastically supported by the school suggests that partnerships between researchers and diverse school staff and students can be used to create respectful and sensitive bullying and aggression prevention programs on school playgrounds during recess.

This study is descriped in more detail in Leff, Costigan, & Power (11).

The author of the article also suggested the following tips for parents based on the study:

  1. Establish a “go to” or point person at school, such as a teacher or playground supervisor;
  2. Avoid bullying hotspots at school (e.g., less well supervised areas on the playground);
  3. Participate in structured and supervised activities during school-recess;
  4. Make good decisions about which activities or groups of friends to join; and
  5. Inform school personnel if a child is being bullied.

In addition, parents and teachers can help students involved in aggressive conflicts by teaching problem-solving strategies to help children slow down and think through potential conflict situations, by modeling and role playing appropriate ways in which to stay calm in social situations, and by building empathy and perspective-taking skills by asking questions and discussing the child’s school day.

There is some further information about the study and how it was conducted. Follow this link to read the full article at



7 thoughts on “Study Looks at Bully-Proofing Recess Playgrounds

  1. Another study for bad parents to scorn and school officials to ignore.

    The problem of bullying won’t be effectively addressed until prominent people routinely cite the criminal incompetence of parents who want their children to be feared.

  2. Results from this study suggest that structured and cooperative games during school recess can have a strong impact on increasing childhood prosocial behaviors and decreasing behaviors found to lead to aggression and bullying (e.g., high levels of rough physical play)

    This is a good point. Most recesses consist of kids just running around at will and choosing what they want to do, organizing their own games, etc. (which is good to an extent, but this is wear bullies choose to pick on others.

    This is absolutely a great opportunity to organize games everyone can play, which include not too much strenuous activity. We can conclude many kids that are picked on aren’t typically the most athletically adept.

  3. A “socialized recess program” with “structured and cooperative games”? We may need to be careful for what we wish.

  4. Thank you for sharing this article! I work for a national non-profit call Playworks that focuses on transforming recess to change school culture. We provide full-time, young, enthusiastic adults to teach and play games, encourage conflict resolution, introduce a leadership program and more all in order to make recess and the school a safe, inclusive environment.

    We began 15 years ago when our founder Jill Vialet was in a meeting with a principal who turned to her and said that her real problem was recess and the same kids are in the office every day for discipline issues. We now run our program in 15 cities, are expanding and provide trainings to other schools and youth programs.

    I think every school should make recess a priority so that kids get the benefits of play with out the teasing and bullying. In fact, I recently wrote about what several schools are doing about recess. Hope you’ll check it out.

  5. This is a fantastic article! I have written a book ‘Bullying Handbook for Parents’ and throughout my research I’ve felt that parents spend so much time getting caught up in the emotion of blaming the bully that they become very unresourceful for their kids. Blaming does not make the problem go away, empowering your kids does. If you are interested in finding out more about my book go to

  6. Pingback: Study Looks at Bully-Proofing Recess Playgrounds | Bullying Help

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