How do other countries tackle bullying?

From KiVa in Finland to police collaboration in America, Rebecca Ratcliffe in the Guardian explores how schools and educators across the globe are tackling bullying…

…England’s non-prescriptive approach contrasts with the centralised strategies seen in countries such as Finland. Here, backed by the government, the University of Turku developed an anti-bullying strategy known as KiVa, which is now implemented in 95% of state-funded schools.

Such a “top-down approach” may not suit English schools, says Anthony Smythe, managing director of BeatBullying. But he adds that there is still a need for strong leadership from government – especially now that teachers are also dealing with cyberbullying.

“What we need in the anti-bullying sector is a strategy that brings all parties together to work on behalf of the child. Cyberbullying has changed the landscape. Before, bullying was something that you could address at school level, now it requires different organisations – local authorities, the police and social services – to collaborate.”

“Lots of countries are reviewing their approach on this,” adds Smythe. “Oklahoma, for example, has just brought out new laws to address bullying and there’s quite an emphasis on what schools do and linking that information to the police. Bullying has to be everyone’s responsibility in the community.”

BeatBullying has backed the Ayden’s Law campaign, which wants to make it a statutory requirement for the government to publish an annual anti-bullying strategy. It also calls for bullying to be made a summary charge offence. “As bullying is not a crime, it’s not stopped by the police, so it has to escalate into something more serious first. We’re saying – why produce a system that encourages that escalation?”

“There are a lot of smart sanctions out there for dealing with youth crime, having a new summary charge would allow us to use those out-of-court disposals to address the behaviour.”

“We managed to persuade the home office to recognise bullying as a form of anti-social behaviour, so, for the first time, the new anti-social behaviour injunctions, which are going through parliament now, will be available to the police and local authorities address bullying.”

How authorities strike the balance between sanctions and intervention is a question that has divided academics and teachers the world over.

The Anti-Bullying Alliance warned against the proposal to include bullying within the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, arguing that it would lead to more children being unnecessarily drawn into the criminal justice system. And across America, where 18 US states now allow some form of legal redress for the victims of bullying, the criminalisation of bullying has provoked controversy. “There’s no federal law on bullying, but in some states it is becoming a criminalised offence,” says Susan Swearer, professor of the school of psychology at the University of Nebraska, who adds that the trend is problematic…

America is leading in examining the link between mental health and bullying, with the American Psychological Association researching both the wellbeing of the individual who is bullying, as well as the person targeted.

Understanding the motivations of individuals who bully is vital, adds Damanjit Sandhu, assistant professor of psychology at Punjabi University. Bullying, she warns, is a major problem across both public and private schools in India. Sandhu points to the Sri Aurobindo International Centre for Education as an example of how holistic care can prevent such behaviour. “The school is based on the philosophy of Aurobindo, the belief that you cannot teach a child anything, but that they have to learn. Teachers see themselves as instruments helping their child to learn, there’s no vertical kind of control and the teachers are not authoritarian.”…

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Your thoughts on the best ways to tackle bullying? What changes would you like to see to the approach taken in schools in the UK? Please share in the comments or on twitter… 

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Comments

  1. WendyBollen

    technologytotea SchoolsImprove Thanks Maggie. There is a youtube link now to this. Will try to paste it on twitter and facebook.

  2. WendyBollen

    technologytotea SchoolsImprove She’s been on telly 15 times!She agreed with me off-stage , has taught Monty to answer back-it worked!

  3. Marigece

    SchoolsImprove Understand the motivations of people who bully is very important, because it helps determine their behavior.

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