No universal definition of bullying exists (Smith & Brain, 2000), yet it is agreed that bullying can be either direct (physical, verbal) or indirect (social exclusion, rumor mongering). A review of the last two decades of research into bullying in schools accounted for data across 16 European countries, as well as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the USA and Canada. It was concluded that the bullying relationships cross-culturally, had a similarity of structure (Smith & Brain, 2000). The consensus being that bullying is not solely a bully-victim relationship. Rather, bullying is seen as a violent group process, where participants reinforce each other's behavior. The collective nature of bullying means that social relationships within the group greatly influence the bullying process. As a social problem, it has been established that school bullying is a systematic abuse of power, involving three dominant factors: a bully, a victim, and by-standers (Smith & Sharp, 1994).
Undesirable consequences of bullying include the victim's fear of reporting being bullied, and the increased risk of depression and low self-esteem, that negatively impact on a student's ability to learn and problem-solve (Salmon, James & Smith, 1997; Smith & Sharpe 1994). Male students tend to be bullies (3:1), using direct bullying methods. Whereas female students tend to use indirect bullying styles, that are more difficult to pin down, or affect with intervention. It is noted that gender differences in bullying behavior may aid in the focus of anti-bullying programs and accurate measurement of bullying behavior.
Roberts (2005) contends that current availability of research makes it difficult for policy makers to determine the best choices of intervention. There is a vast amount of information, theories, models and results to sort through. Programs such as Quality Circles, the No Blame approach, Pikas, befriending and peer support, or peer mentoring and mediation, adult counseling and or mediation, playground changes as such as more sport and games, and gardens, or trained monitors (Smith & Brain, 2000; Roberts, 2005). Hence, it is difficult to evaluate which intervention/s are best for a school. Roberts suggests systematic reviews of anti-bullying interventions to filter information, and to provide consensus on where research stands to date.
Smith and Sharpe's (1994) School Bullying: Insights and Perspectives, propose that anti-bullying policies of schools are not as effective as they could be. However, Salmon et al.'s (1997) research found completely the opposite. The two English schools compared found only 4.2% of respondents had experienced bullying. Victims tended to be the younger high school students. A review of two decades of bullying research in schools has revealed that bullying remains an international issue (Smith & Brain 2000). Through the evaluation of school-based anti-bullying interventions more of the nature and effects of bullying can be understood.
Using surveys, Whitney & Smith (1994) evaluated an anti-bullying school program that used Olweus's (1992) self-report bullying survey, the first of its