Bullying seems to be a timeless issue: one that you, your parents, and your grandparents had to deal with.
Bullying is more pervasive than we might initially think. Studies show that about one-fourth to one-third of students report that they were bullied in school. Most bullied kids face abuse and torment multiple times a week, and as a result, they are at risk of developing mental health issues.
In fact, bullying is one of the biggest obstacles facing students in the K-12 system. To some, it may seem like a problem with no solution. The school system in Finland has a different idea.
For those in charge of Finnish education, bullying is a preventable problem.
Educators have created a bullying prevention program known as KiVa. The name is an abbreviation of “kiusaamista vastaan,” which means “against bullying.” The program will be implemented nationwide and is designed to educate students about the consequences of bullying as well as train them to take action against bullies.
KiVa aims to prepare students to combat bullying even when teachers and proctors are not around. The program’s resources include in-class lessons and even video games. Computer games act as simulations so that kids can become acquainted with a variety of bullying situations.
Similar to popular choose-your-story games, these models allow children to determine how to react when they witness bullying.
Educators feel that they can teach students how to confront bullies without adult help. According to Upworthy, Jaana Juvonen, a professor at UCLA, is evaluating the program for applicability in the United States:
“Our findings are the first to show that the most tormented children – those facing bullying several times a week – can be helped by teaching bystanders to be more supportive,” Professor Juvonen explained in a press release.
Johanna Alanen, KiVa’s International Project Manager, described the program to Upworthy via email:
“For instance, [students] might witness a bullying incident and they have to decide what to do: whether to defend the victim or do something else…Their choices have consequences and lead to new situations.”
KiVa appears to be a smashing success.
According to Professor Juvonen, the bullying prevention program has reduced the odds of a student being bullied by almost one-half. This amazing result will have long-term benefits for the Finnish educational community.
The program has gained widespread attention as other countries consider adopting it in their own schools. Officials in Italy, the Netherlands, and the U.K. are testing the program in their schooling systems, and the U.S. is evaluating the program.
Soon bullying may be a thing of the past.