Researchers start web toolkit aimed at bullying prevention

The University of Iowa College of Public Health hopes this web toolkit can help teachers try other bullying prevention methods. (Steffi Lee, CBS2/FOX28)

An idea to combat bullying started with a play.

The Working Group Theater put on a play sparking conversation about social issues.

Now, University of Iowa researchers teamed up with the group to focus on one of the topics - bullying prevention.

"The schools wanted to keep the conversation going," director of the University of Iowa Injury Prevention Research Center, Corinne Peek-Asa, said.

To continue the conversation, The University of Iowa College of Public Health, Injury Prevention Research Center and The Working Group Theater launched a web toolkit, called Helping Educators Use Art to Reduce Bullying, or HEAR.

"We wanted to create some activities that fit into the classroom, after-school programs and youth groups," Peek-Asa said.

Researchers say administrators sometimes get stuck when trying to handle bullying in the classroom.

"Programs have worked in European settings and when they brought them to the United States, the evidence has been really mixed," Marizen Ramirez, associate professor at the College of Public Health, said.

The activities are free and available to teachers and students.

"The activities focus a lot on group dynamics, having students work together to create something, to create messages that can be shared broadly throughout the schools," Peek-Asa said.

Some of the possible activities include reflective writing, drawing and even opportunities to write and perform parts of a play.

Students from Cedar Rapids already tried the toolkit.

"We had students who did a variety of things," Emily Weno, a student who helped facilitate the toolkit, said. "We had students do a skit, we had a song, we had a poem."

Researchers from the College of Public Health say they'll continue to track what teachers and students like from the toolkit. They also welcome feedback on their website.

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