Researchers create arts-based anti-bullying toolkit

Published on February 9, 2016

Researchers at the University of Iowa College of Public Health’s Injury Prevention Research Center (IPRC) have collaborated with a local theater group to develop a toolkit of arts-based activities aimed at bullying prevention.

Logo for HEAR - Helping Educators Use Art to Reduce BullyingThe web-based toolkit includes activities such as reflexive writing, games, photo voice, and “complete the scene” short plays. It also includes information for the activity leaders on how to prepare for the activities and have productive conversations about a difficult subject.

According to Dr. Corinne Peek-Asa, professor of occupational and environmental health, the toolkit was tested through a College of Public Health service learning class. “The feedback we received was very positive,” she says. “The students and teachers really enjoyed this interactive approach to addressing bullying.”

The kit is free and can be used by anyone interested in bullying prevention activities, including schools, youth groups, after school program, churches, and clubs. There are a number activities for different age groups, but any activity can be modified to fit a particular age group.

HEAR (Helping Educators use Art to Reduce bullying) is collaboration between the IPRC and Working Group Theater that began with the creation of “Out of Bounds,” a play developed for student audiences in elementary, junior, and high schools to spark conversation about bullying.

Neurological research shows that adolescent and teenage brains have a very active emotional center, making them receptive to arts-based messaging. By stimulating an emotional reaction to bullying, researchers hope teens will better understand bullying behavior and how to prevent it.

The HEAR toolkit is available at: http://www.public-health.uiowa.edu/hear/