Investigating the potential of peer-to-peer communications in Australian bullying campaigns targeting youth

Kelly McWilliam, Robert King, Judy Drennan, Stuart Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bullying is now recognised as a public health issue with well-documented impacts on mental health and well-being. In recent years, campaigns and interventions designed to reduce bullying, particularly among youth, have increasingly focused on digital media and social media in particular. The increased focus on social media has allowed a concomitant consideration of peer-to-peer communication as a means of facilitating behaviour changes. This paper hypothesises that anti-bullying campaigns employing peer-to-peer communications will be more effective than those without a (or with a limited) peer-to-peer component. To test this hypothesis, we assessed the impact of two Australian anti-bullying campaigns using a repeated-measures approach on 849 people aged between 16 and 24. The campaigns examined were the Inspire Foundation’s ‘Bullying – Don’t Stand By, Stand Up’ campaign, which ran on Facebook between June and September 2011 and relied entirely on peer-to-peer communication, and the Australian government’s ‘Bullying. No Way!’ campaign: an information-based website that contained limited peer-to-peer components. The study found that while both campaigns effectively influenced attitudes towards bullying, the Facebook campaign rated more highly regarding ‘honesty of message’, suggesting peer-to-peer communication has a stronger resonance for young people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-228
Number of pages16
JournalCommunication Research and Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


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