Abstract

BACKGROUND: Bullying is a major problem worldwide and Chile is no exception. Bullying is defined as a systematic aggressive behavior against a victim who cannot defend him or herself. Victims suffer social isolation and psychological maladjustment, while bullies have a higher risk for conduct problems and substance use disorders. These problems appear to last over time. The KiVa antibullying program has been evaluated in Finland and other European countries, showing preventive effects on victimization and self-reported bullying. The aims of this study are (1) to develop a culturally appropriate version of the KiVa material and (2) to test the effectiveness of the KiVa program, with and without the online game, on reducing experiences of victimization and bullying behavior among vulnerable primary schools in Santiago (Chile), using a cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) design with three arms: (1) full KiVa program group, (2) partial KiVa (without online game) program group and (3) control group.METHODS AND DESIGN: This is a three-arm, single-blind, cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) with a target enrolment of 1495 4th and 5th graders attending 13 vulnerable schools per arm. Students in the full and partial KiVa groups will receive universal actions: ten 2-h lessons delivered by trained teachers during 1 year; they will be exposed to posters encouraging them to support victims and behave constructively when witnessing bullying; and a person designated by the school authorities will be present in all school breaks and lunchtimes using a visible KiVa vest to remind everybody that they are in a KiVa school. KiVa schools also will have indicated actions, which consist of a set of discussion groups with the victims and with the bullies, with proper follow-up. Only full KiVa schools will also receive an online game which has the aim to raise awareness of the role of the group in bullying, increase empathy and promote strategies to support victimized peers. Self-reported victimization, bullying others and peer-reported bullying actions, psychological and academic functioning, and sense of school membership will be measured at baseline and 12 months after randomization.DISCUSSION: This is the first cluster RCT of the KiVa antibullying program in Latin America.TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov, Identifier: NCT02898324 . Registered on 8 September 2016.