Anti-bullying measures alone are not enough to encourage positive mental health for children in schools, suggests a new study from the University of British Columbia.
In a study published recently in the journal Social Science & Medicine, researchers found that children who reported feeling a greater sense of belonging in school tended to be more optimistic, while students who experienced bullying felt less optimistic.
Interestingly, researchers found that lower school-wide bullying levels were not specifically associated with more optimism. School-wide feelings of peer belonging and adult support, on the other hand, were linked to children’s optimism.
The findings suggest that, when it comes to creating nurturing environments, schools need to focus on enhancing positive relationships for students with their peers and teachers.
“The take-home message is that schools need to invest in building healthy social climates,” said Eva Oberle, the study’s lead author and assistant professor in the school of population and public health at UBC. “Many schools have anti-bullying campaigns, which is great. But our findings suggest that we also need initiatives that actively promote a healthy, supportive environment.”