Free2B: Multimedia Bullying Prevention Program

In 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, a bullying prevention program is being designed for seventh and eighth graders. Youth Advisors from an 8th grade class in Philadelphia have named it Free2B.

This middle school audience is particularly important to engage as research shows that bullying increases in late childhood and peaks in early adolescence, specifically during middle school (learn more about youth bullying). The final production will present important bullying prevention and conflict resolution information to youth through an interactive multimedia experience using 3-D projection, surround sound and laser lights, as well as handheld remotes that allow students to become part of the presentation to enhance their learning.

The goal of this project is to develop a pilot program built on scientific best practices that is safe, engaging and successful in increasing students’ knowledge of bullying and its harmful effects and increasing positive actions to stand up to bullying. During the spring and fall of 2014, the pilot phase of Free2B is occuring in two Philadelphia middle schools and includes pre-program assessment, screening of the peer bullying multimedia experience, and post-program assessment, as well as four to six weeks of follow-up activities and evaluation at the school. Findings from the assessments will be used to make future refinement to the program as it rolls out to more schools and communities across the country.

Click here to see news coverage of the spring 2014 pilot at one school.

Click here to see news coverage of a spring 2015 screening of Free2B for state, federal, and community leaders, including Congressman Chaka Fattah from Pennsylvania's 2nd Congressional District.

Program Development

Leveraging scientific literature and their expertise in delivering effective bullying prevention programming to younger children, VPI researchers at CHOP developed a working model based upon best-practice science that is guiding LCE in the development of the multimedia experience and the evaluation of the program. 

Target Audiences

  • Primary audience: Youth in seventh to eighth grade (approximately 12 to 14 years of age)
  • Secondary audience: Teachers and school personnel

Long-term Outcome (overall goal of the program)

  • Reduce the incidence and consequences of bullying

Intermediate Outcomes (long-term goals for behavior change)

  • Increased positive action on the part of individual bystanders
  • Increased collective action on the part of youth
  • Increase collective action on the part of school personnel
  • Positive impact on bullying behaviors and bystander behaviors

Immediate Outcomes (immediate goals for knowledge change)

  • Increased knowledge of facts related to bullying and of commonly held myths
  • Increased understanding of the norms that support peer bullying and the norms that support pro-social behavior and a positive school climate
  • Increased understanding of the important role that peer bystanders have in reducing bullying
  • Increased knowledge of problem solving steps that contribute to peer bullying
  • Increased ability to take another’s perspective and be empathic towards peers

Constructs (content of program that will help participants achieve intermediate and immediate outcomes; provides LCE creative direction for developing the program)

  • Peer bullying facts and myths about peer bullying
  • Establishing pro-social norms
  • The bystander of aggression and bullying
  • Problem-solving steps
  • Empathy and perspective taking, especially as applied to social situations

Research and Evaluation

The goal is for 300 youth (150 per school) and possibly up to 16 teachers (eight per school) to participate in the pilot multimedia event and evaluation activities. Research methods include a mix of pre, post- and follow-up assessments using standard questions, and a more in-depth follow-up evaluation that involves interviewing a smaller group of randomly selected youth.