How Finland is Finally Putting an End to Bullying

Whether tormented relentlessly by older siblings at home or pushed around by the meanest of peers at school, we’ve likely all experienced bullying to some degree or another.

According to some research, about 90% of elementary students are bullied to some degree. However, only about 36% report instances of bullying.

And it doesn’t get much better as students age. Older students may be bullied more heavily and are more likely to fall victim to violence, sexual assault and other forms of bullying or crime.

“When it comes to students in the middle and high school age group, about one in four report being severely bullied.”

Kids are bullied in classrooms, chatrooms, bathrooms and more. We know there’s a massive problem, but what needs to happen in order to truly promote change?

KiVa! Thank You Finland!

Finland has followed Europe’s socially progressive fashion by coming up with a real solution to the widespread issue of bullying.

KiVa, the anti-bullying program in schools, is short for the Finnish phrase “kiusaamista vastaan” which translates to “against bullying.”

The premise of KiVa is simple and starts with a bank of valuable resources for students, teachers and parents. These resources equate to lesson plans for teachers, reading materials and activities for parents, and most importantly, relevant educational games for school kids.

Essentially, these games are on par with the choose-your-own adventure books, only fine-tuned to overcome bullying issues. Games are filled with levels that present bullying scenarios to students in a virtual setting. This lets students see potential consequences for various ways they choose to react to scenes of bullying.

An Introduction to Bystander Empathy

KiVa engrains the concept of bystander empathy to students. When students are taught the simple concept of being supportive bystanders and speaking up for their bullied peers, the outcome is tremendous.

In an interview on UpWorthy, KiVa’s International Project Manager Johanna Alanen explains: “Kids take control of cartoon avatars that are put in a variety of bullying situations they might encounter in school. For instance, they might witness a bullying incident and they have to decide what to do; whether to defend the victim or do something else. There are different options on how to defend the victim…their choices have consequences and lead to new situations.”

KiVa’s in-depth and hands-on approach to bullying is certainly revolutionary. Most anti-bullying efforts are much too focused on relying on superiors to handle everything. Finland’s approach lets kids know that they can offer support for bullied peers and stand up for them when teachers aren’t around, such as on the playground or at the bus stop.

Related: 5 Ways to Protect Your Child From Bullying

The True Cost of Bullying

It seems that Finland actually understands the severity of what’s at stake as bullying is a public health issue.

An article by University of Southern California explains how bullying is harmful for both the bully and the bullied:

“Bullying has been medically linked to a wide range of health issues, with both physical and emotional symptoms, specifically that those bullied and their bullies alike complain of headaches and stomachaches, have difficulty falling asleep and fall victim to psychological symptoms, most notably depression and very significant anxiety.”

Countries such as Belgium, Italy, the UK and even the US are already partnering with KiVa, or at least evaluating the program. As parents and mentors to kids we can all do our part by self-educating on bullying issues and presenting these mindsets to younger generations who look to us as role models. We can all do our part in ending the bullying epidemic, and we have Finland’s KiVa to thank!

*Quotes and statistics found via resource pages at PACER, Wake Forest University, and StopBullying.

Written by Robert Parmer

61 comments

Jerome S
Jerome S1 years ago

thanks

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for sharing.

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Telica R
Telica R2 years ago

Thank you for posting!

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Carl R
Carl R2 years ago

Thanks!!!

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Philippa P
Philippa Powers2 years ago

Thanks.

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Darlene Buckingham

Bullying has become acceptable behaviour and Trump is unfortunately, sending the message that bullying behaviour is OK. Adults have to set examples for children and hopefully more adults will realize that this behaviour only causes harm to themselves and to children.

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Carl R
Carl R2 years ago

thanks!!

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David C
David C2 years ago

thanks

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Margie F
Margie F2 years ago

Wish it would work here too.

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william M
william Miller2 years ago

Thanks

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