A Case Study of an Individualized Intervention


Bullying is a major public health issue affecting approximately 30% of students in U.S. public schools. The negative effects of bullying are severe and can include mental health problems like anxiety and depression, poor academic performance, school avoidance, and loss of instructional time. This article summarizes a case study that implemented and evaluated an individualized intervention for a 7th grade student identified as a bully.

The participatory culture-specific intervention model (PCSIM) was used to develop the intervention. This approach actively incorporates feedback from various stakeholders, like parents and teachers, to design a culturally-relevant plan tailored to the student’s unique needs and environment. The case study took place in a diverse suburban middle school in the southeastern U.S. Key informants included the target student, his mother, his teacher, and the school counselor.

Qualitative data collected included interviews with the student, parent, and teacher, along with classroom observations of the student’s behavior. Interview questions focused on gathering background information, understanding concerns from each perspective, and reviewing outcomes of past disciplinary strategies attempted by the school. Quantitative data included pre- and post-intervention surveys measuring the student’s trauma symptoms, disruptive behaviors, aggression, and bullying actions towards peers. This mixed methods approach allowed for a comprehensive understanding of the student’s needs and progress.

The resulting weekly intervention plan involved meeting with the student for psychoeducational sessions on topics like emotion regulation, perspective taking, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. Culturally-relevant examples such as influential figures or traditions were incorporated throughout the curriculum to enhance relevance. The student’s mother and teacher reported noticeable improvements in his classroom conduct, participation, and prosocial interactions with peers after the intervention. Survey scores also showed decreases in internalizing symptoms like anxiety, externalizing behaviors like verbal aggression, and specific bullying acts like teasing and social exclusion.

Multiple informants rated the intervention as highly acceptable and appropriate given the local context. The ongoing collaboration with stakeholders enhanced cultural relevance and fit. Fidelity checks further demonstrated strong treatment integrity in terms of implementation consistency. The positive outcomes highlight the importance of individualized, culturally-responsive interventions when addressing student bullying behaviors.

This case study has several implications for bullying prevention and intervention efforts. First, tailoring strategies to students’ unique cultural backgrounds and needs appears crucial for success. Additionally, actively engaging parents, teachers, counselors, and other stakeholders throughout the process can improve buy-in and consistency across settings. The iterative data collection process also allows for adjustments to maintain acceptability and contextual fit. Further research on individualized bullying interventions is still needed, given the severity of outcomes associated with student bullying. However, this case provides an encouraging example of reducing problematic behaviors through collaborative, culturally-competent practice.

There are also implications for school policies and protocols surrounding bullying identification and response. Having clear procedures for identifying bullies, conducting functional behavior assessments to understand antecedents, and developing individualized support plans can help streamline the process of intervention. Professional development for school staff on culturally-responsive interventions and family engagement strategies may also improve outcomes by increasing consistency across contexts. Districts should also examine their discipline policies and response protocols through an equity lens, given disproportionate impacts on certain cultural groups that have been documented. Overall, a comprehensive approach addressing factors across the socio-ecological system holds promise for mitigating student bullying and its detrimental effects.

Further research should also continue to establish a sound evidence base for culturally-responsive interventions that can inform teacher preparation programs, school practice, district policies, and state laws. While this case study provides an initial contribution, more work is needed to refine and validate appropriate protocols. Only through collaborative efforts across researchers, schools, and policymakers can we make progress on addressing the public health crisis of bullying.

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