Developed through an innovative partnership between Violence Prevention Initiative (VPI) researchers at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and multimedia experts from Life Changing Experiences (LCE) and Mobile Cinema Park, Free2B is an evidence-based, 3D interactive bullying prevention program for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students.
Bullying in schools is a critical roadblock to children learning and achieving their full potential. Research has demonstrated that 29 percent of youth report they were bullied within the past year and 80 percent of youth are bystanders to bullying. The middle school audience of Free2B is particularly important to engage with bullying prevention techniques and awareness as research shows that bullying increases in late childhood and peaks in early adolescence, specifically during middle school.
Free2B is an innovative 90-minute scientifically grounded assembly for 6th-8th graders that transforms school auditoriums into an interactive and technologically sophisticated cinema. The program provides important bullying prevention and conflict resolution information to youth through a powerful 3D narrative, video testimonials, and an audience-interactive component using hand-held voting devices. Our Community-Based Participatory Research approach combines best practice science with feedback from a range of community stakeholders across urban and suburban school settings, making Free2B universally relevant yet scientifically rigorous and sensitive to youth across diverse communities.
The comprehensive Free2B bullying prevention program includes:
- Showing the 3D interactive peer bullying multimedia experience
- Brief pre- and post-program assessments that are integrated into the show itself through the use of handheld devices
- School reports based on information collected during the show, by which schools can determine their strengths, challenges, and next steps in bullying prevention programming
Free2B is designed for middle school students approximately 12-14 years old in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. The program has been implemented in Philadelphia and Dallas, with an additional 80 showings planned throughout the state of Pennsylvania through 2017. These will include approximately 70 schools (public and alternative schools), and 10 correctional facilities and/or foster care agencies.
To date, Free2B has been implemented in five Philadelphia-area middle schools, with over 1,000 students participating. An additional 1,155 students from eight middle schools in Dallas have also experienced the program.
Free2B has demonstrated significant improvements in students’ social problem-solving knowledge, prosocial attitudes about bullying, empathy for victims, and feelings of responsibility to help in bullying situations. Over 90 percent of students in both Philadelphia and Dallas indicated that the program teaches skills that students can use to stop bullying, and approximately 87 percent of students in both cities indicated that the program was a fun way to learn about bullying. Additional findings include:
- 9 percent increase in feeling responsible to help others
- 13 percent increase in empathy
- 10 percent increase in feeling confident that you could help others in distress, which suggests that the program has quite a powerful immediate impact on bystanders
- 36 percent increase in understanding that bullying is not “normal”
- 21 percent increase in understanding the importance of reading others’ social cues, which is an incredibly important way to prevent unnecessary conflicts
In addition, 5,000 students in Mexico and 130,000 students in Israel have experienced the Free2B program. The research team at CHOP is poised to examine the impact of these shows, as well as to conduct national and international comparative studies.
The impact of Free2B will be increased through an ongoing cycle of evaluation, production refinements, outreach, and dissemination-- the Free2B Framework. Specifically, this framework helps to achieve ongoing relevance, expansion, and impact over time. The Free2B team aims to capitalize on the initial success and excitement of Free2B to inspire and create school-specific anti-bullying action plans, mobile apps, and other technological innovations for edutainment (a combination of education and entertainment) in order to help children continue learning and practicing bullying prevention skills.
Free2B is led by a group of research leaders from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Drs. Stephen Leff, PhD, Tracy Waasdorp, PhD, MEd, Brooke Paskewich, PsyD, and Flaura Winston, MD, PhD., who collectively have expertise in bullying and school-based prevention, public health and injury prevention, sophisticated design and statistics, and strategies for large-scale dissemination. They are joined by Ori Yardeni, an expert in edutainment and technology.
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