Bullying is a crisis! Keynote speech and a workshop at the KiVa Winter School

On January 4, the 10th KiVa anti-bullying Winter School was held at Tallinn German Gymnasium. Bringing together nearly 200 educators, we gave the opening lecture at the 10th Winter School and conducted a workshop with a focus on bullying as a crisis.

On a crisp Tuesday morning at the beginning of January, teachers, principals, support specialists and other members of the school community gathered at the KiVa Winter School to learn and share experiences of dealing with bullying and bullying as a crisis. “Bullying is clearly a crisis, and it is time it was talked about accordingly,” said Anne-May Nagel, co-founder of the Crisis Research Centre, in her keynote. “One in five school children is a victim of bullying in Estonia. Fellow pupils, teachers, parents and the bullies themselves are also directly affected by bullying – that’s a huge number of people. As it is also known that the effects of bullying can extend into adulthood, leading for example to serious mental health problems, it must be tackled now,” she said.

To stop bullying, the University of Turku has developed a research- and evidence-based KiVa programme, which is already implemented in 26% of Estonian schools through the Bullying Free School Foundation. In schools where the KiVa programme is implemented, the incidence of bullying is significantly lower. “The KiVa programme should be a natural part of the Estonian education system, as it is the only science-based bullying prevention programme,” said Nagel. This way, an important crisis management tool is available to stop bullying as a crisis, it must be put to use.

So, there is an important crisis management tool for stopping bullying as a crisis, but it will only be of use if KiVa is implemented correctly and systemically – this was also one of the important ideas of the day that was discussed.

We also ran a workshop for school leaders, where the participants explored their school’s experience of managing crises through an effective crisis management matrix. The key takeaways from the workshop were the need for more media coverage of education issues in order to get adequate resources from the society and higher levels of government, the courage to take responsibility, and also that tackling bullying as a crisis needs continuous and systematic work. Schools implementing KiVa are on the way to doing so, and we wish them and Bullying Free School Foundation success on this journey!                                               

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