What is bullying?
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
What is not bullying?
This incidents on this list, although unpleasant, are NOT considered bullying:
- Not liking someone – It is very natural that people do not like everyone around them and, as unpleasant as it may be to know someone does not like you, verbal and non-verbal messages of “I don’t like you” are not acts of bullying.
- Being excluded – Again, it is very natural for people to gather around a group of friends and we cannot be friends with everyone, so it is acceptable that when children have a party or play a game at the playground, they will include their friends and exclude others. It is very important to remind children that although exclusion is unpleasant, it is not an act of bullying.
- Accidentally bumping into someone – When people bump into others, the reaction depends mostly on the bumped person’s mood. If they have had a bad day, they think it was an act of aggressive behavior, but if they are in the good mood, they smile back and attract an apology. This is also relevant for playing sport, like when children are throwing the ball at each other, it could hit someone on the head. It is very important to explain that some accidents happen without any bad intention and it is important not to create a big conflict, because it was NOT an act of bullying.
- Making other children play things a certain way – Again, this is very natural behavior. Wanting things to be done our way is normal and is not an act of bullying. If a child complains that ‘Jane’ is very bossy and she always wants things to be done her way, try show them that they want it too. Again, although it is not fun or pleasant, this is NOT bullying.
- A single act of telling a joke about someone – Making fun of other people is not fun for them, but the difference between having a sense of humor and making fun of someone is very fine. It is important to teach children (and grown-ups) that things they say as jokes should also be amusing for the others. If not, they should stop. Unless it happens over and over again and done deliberately to hurt someone, telling jokes about people is NOT bullying.
- Arguments – Arguments are just heated disagreements between two (or more) people (or groups). It is natural that people have different interests and disagree on many things. The argument itself is NOT a form of bullying, although some people turn arguments into bullying, because they want to win the argument so much. It is very important to distinguish between natural disagreements and bullying during an argument.
- Expression of unpleasant thoughts or feelings regarding others – Again, communication requires at least two players. Although it may be unpleasant to hear what someone thinks about you, it is NOT a form of bullying but a very natural thing. In every communication, there are disagreements and some form of judgment about each other’s attitude and behavior. If someone says to you, “I think this was not a nice gesture” or “You insulted me when you said this”, this is NOT bullying but an expression of thoughts and feelings.
- Isolated acts of harassment, aggressive behavior, intimidation or meanness – The definition of bullying states that there is repetition in the behavior. Bullying is a conscious, repeated, hostile, aggressive behavior of an individual or a group abusing their position with the intention to harm others or gain real or perceived power. Therefore, anything that happens once is NOT an act of bullying. We feel it is important to pay attention to what your children are telling us and find out if things are happening more than once.
All the behaviors above are unpleasant and need to be addressed, but they are not to be treated as bullying.
At Buglawton we have implemented a new Anti-Bullying programme called KiVa along with a number of other primary school in Congleton.
KiVa is an innovative school-based anti-bullying program which has been developed using cutting-edge research on bullying and its mechanisms
Prevention, intervention, and monitoring
KiVa is an evidence-based program to prevent bullying and to tackle the cases of bullying effectively. The former is crucial but also the latter is important, as no prevention efforts will make bullying disappear once and for all; there need to be tools to be utilized when a case of bullying comes to light. The third aspect of KiVa is constant monitoring of the situation in one’s school and the changes taking place over time; this is enabled by the online tools included in KiVa. These tools produce annual feedback for each school about their implementation of the program as well as the outcomes obtained.
The main components of KiVa
KiVa includes both universal and indicated actions. The universal actions, such as the KiVa curriculum (student lessons and online games), are directed at all students and focus mainly on preventing bullying. The indicated actions are to be used when a bullying case has emerged. They are targeted specifically to the children who have been involved in bullying as perpetrators or victims, as well as to several classmates who are challenged to support the victim; the aim is to put an end to bullying.
KiVa is based on decades of research on bullying and its mechanisms
KiVa was developed at the University of Turku in Finland, with funding from the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. Its developers are experts who have been studying the phenomenon of bullying and its mechanisms for decades. The team is led by PhD, Professor Christina Salmivalli and PhD, Special Researcher Elisa Poskiparta.
Strong evidence of effectiveness
There are numerous anti-bullying programs on the market but unfortunately, only few of them have been tested in rigorous scientific studies. This means that there is no evidence of whether or not the programs actually help in reducing bullying in schools.
The effects of the KiVa anti-bullying program have been evaluated in numerous studies. In addition to the studies based on the data collected and analysed by our KiVa research group, also independent data collected by National Institute for Health and Welfare indicates that bullying and victimization have decreased in Finland since the broad roll-out of the KiVa program. KiVa is now being evaluated in several countries: the first international studies from the Netherlands, Estonia, Italy, and Wales are emerging, showing that KiVa is effective outside of Finland as well.
We want to ensure all of our children feel happy and secure in school so any incidents are recorded in a consistent way. This was why we have chosen KiVa!
PARENTS – please click on the link below to learn more!
What we have done as a school to weave KiVa into our every day life at Buglawton!
We launched KiVa in anti-bullying week (November 2015) and we had a fun-filled Friday to finish this week where all of our children had a chance to take part in a variety of workshops with other children from their house groups. The carousel of activities included:
Although we are alert to bullying all year round, we participate in anti-bullying week each year, along with schools all over the country. This year the focus was Respect. We got together in our teams and took part in exciting workshops to celebrate friendship and think about how we can show respect to our friends and adults.
In our school we also have KiVa assemblies and we found a song by Bruno Mars called ‘You can count on me’ and we loved it so much we decided to adopt it as our KiVa song.
As well as regular assemblies we also have KiVa lessons where all of our children get the opportunity to explore different situations and discuss solutions to problems that the or their peers may be having. We also have a KiVa buddy on the playground every day who the children go to if they are upset and these KiVa buddies take them to an KiVa adult who can help. They have a very bright vest to wear which means they are easy to spot!
Finally at the end of the Summer Term we had the opportunity to swap ideas with another KiVa school. They came to us and we went to them. Our children led assemblies where we shared how we have implemented KiVa into our schools. It was great to swap ideas and it helped us set new targets about how we can continue to move forward with KiVa and ensure our school is a happy place. Please take some time to view our gallery below.