Statement from the Highmark Foundation
In 2006, the Highmark Foundation launched an initiative to improve the health and well-being of Pennsylvania’s children. Since that time, the Foundation has invested more than $25 million in bullying prevention efforts in Pennsylvania. While the Foundation’s leadership, foresight and financial commitment have helped raise public awareness, reduce incidences of bullying and disseminate best practices in bullying prevention there is still much work to be done.
The Foundation’s most notable work in bullying prevention may be its adoption of the public health model and support of the largest known implementation and evaluation of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) in the United States. Between 2008 and 2012, more than 460 schools received resources and technical assistance to implement the evidence-based OBPP – then the “gold standard” in bullying prevention. The goals of the Foundation’s OBPP implementation effort were to reduce and prevent bullying problems among Pennsylvania children, build capacity within the commonwealth to sustain and deepen evidence-based violence prevention in schools, and contribute to the research base on bullying and the efficacy of using a public health model to address the problem.
While implementation of OBPP and other evidence-based bullying prevention programs continues in schools throughout the commonwealth, there remains a need for systems of support for schools engaged in bullying prevention and systems of support for parents and children impacted by bullying.
The Foundation provides ongoing support for schools through the funding of high-quality professional development opportunities, such as the Safe Schools Conference, the Third Thursday Series and the publication of a number of white papers on bullying prevention and related initiatives. To support parents/children impacted by bullying, the Foundation provides funding for a bullying prevention hot line through a partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Center for Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. It also supports parent outreach and technical assistance through the Center for Safe Schools.
To further support parents, schools and youth serving agencies, the Foundation partnered with the Center for Safe Schools to develop the Pennsylvania Bullying Prevention Toolkit. This toolkit was designed to provide information on best practices in bullying prevention, as well as a vetted compilation of resources. It was designed to be a fast track resource for families affected by suspected bullying. By supporting the development of this toolkit, the Highmark Foundation seeks to provide a lasting and valued resource to address difficult bullying incidents.