Finland, that education paradise, once again manages to surprise us positively. It was not enough that it led the ranking of the best education in the world, allocating much more in public funds than other countries (perhaps one of the secrets), now it gives us a method against bullying that by statistics has already shown that it works.

Its name is KiVa, short for Kiusaamista Vastaan which means “Against School Bullying”, it was launched in 2007 by the University of Turku and every day that passes it is implanted in a school in a new country. Hopefully it never stops spreading until we get no child to feel bullied in a school.

We are going to see what the anti-bullying method consists of, which at the time astonished Europe and which many Spanish parents urgently demand today for their schools (a collection of signatures was organized a few months ago to direct the petition to the Minister of Education, without much success so far).

What is the KIVA method like?

The plan begins by assisting the student in three key stages of their development : at 7, 10 and 13 years old. At those ages, children attend about twenty classes where they will talk and debate what exactly is bullying, what to do about it, how to prevent it, avoid it and, if necessary, report it. All this through talks, strategies, dramatized situations, readings and computer games, all materials already studied to raise awareness of this great problem. The child will learn little by little to empathize with the victim , putting himself in his place.

And this is KiVa’s secret: putting more emphasis on not tolerating or supporting bullying by those who observe it, than on trying to stop the harasser. The idea is that the bully acts because the environment supports him. Although many times he does not agree with his actions by not reporting it, it is understood that he does.

Thus, if the harasser does not receive the complicity of his colleagues, it makes no sense to harass anyone. The crux of the matter is to make him empty, to report him to those responsible, that he feels that he is no better or more than anyone else for doing physical or psychological harm to a partner.

In each center there is a committee against harassment made up of a group of teachers who are the ones who act quickly when there is evidence of a case. They talk with the victim, with the harasser and with colleagues who believe they are close to the problem. They follow up on the case and decide when it is time to communicate it to the parents of those involved. In addition, all teachers are alert to what is happening around them, identifying possible situations of abuse among their students, of course.

The important thing is to be present and attentive , not to abandon the victim to his fate and for the students to see clearly that there is control over this and that it is vital to tackle it as unfair and dangerous; that they are the ones who have the power to regulate coexistence and that this is the only way to ensure that no one, not even themselves, feels mistreated in any way by their peers. For those who do not dare to report for fear of being branded as “snitches” there is an online system to anonymously report any situation of bullying.

The KiVa method was born from a joint action between the Finnish government and the educational community due to the increasing number of violent acts that had been observed in schools. By implementing it in schools and monitoring the results, not only was there a radical decrease in conflicts, but also increased school well-being and motivation for studying. The depression and distress index was also reduced.

As we said, hopefully KiVa continues its expansion and makes abuse visible as a problem in which we can all do our bit. From home as parents educating in empathy, respect and justice , and from school as teachers and monitors acting when we have it in front of us.

Don’t turn your face in the face of bullying or you too will be guilty.

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