Anti-bullying – Using an Online Community for Public Consultation

Research can be conducted for a number of reasons, one of which is to shape policy. Advocacy research’s main purpose is to influence formal and informal policies created by policymakers. Therefore, it is important to gather solid data so that your research clearly shows the needs or problems you want addressed.

In February 2013 the federal government of Saskatchewan hired Insightrix Research to investigate the need for a provincial anti-bullying strategy, the Saskatchewan Government challenged Insightrix to develop and deliver the most effective public consultation process using both in-person interview sessions as well as using Insightrix Communities software for online engagement.

The needs for researching bullying and coming up with a solid anti-bullying strategy within the province is great. Bullying is a serious issue in schools, work, and the community. The effects of bullying can pose long-term issues and complications. For the study Insightrix conducted in-person interviews coupled concurrently with Insightrix Community software. 16 in-person consultations were run throughout the province, which drew a total of 400 participants to these consultations. At the same time that these in-person consultations were running, Insightrix created an online community which both the government and Insightrix promoted. This online community led to 600 Saskatchewan residents joining the online community.

Both the in-person sessions and the online community had moderator presenting questions which allowed the government and Insightrix to listen to residents and gather new insights regarding the topic.

Based on the discussions both in-person and online Insightrix was able to compile a report detailing people’s thoughts and experiences regarding anti-bullying initiatives and strategies. The report showed that the online consultation was well-received by residents, and the dialogues conducted within the community were deep, and thoughtful providing insights that were unable to be gathered during the in-person sessions.

The online community also allowed members from all over the province to participate creating a broader audience. The online community software allowed access to every single comment made, and allowed the government access to read, and monitor comments at any time. The online community stayed open two weeks past the in-person consultations allowing the findings of the in-person sessions to be tested with the online community.  By using geo-IP data the Insightrix Communities platform was able to show participation and input from all across the province.

From the in-person sessions as well as the online community discussions Insightrix was able to come up with key findings about the type of bullying that goes on within Saskatchewan and help the government create policies to reduce bullying in schools, and the community and provide the support and education needed to combat it.

By conducting the research online, as well as in-person the government was able to ensure inclusion for all geographic regions in the province. This was a great example of using research to guide policy making so that each community member could feel fairly represented. If you would like to find out more about how our online community software can be used to help you create policy please feel free to contact us.

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