Considering the population of Finland is only 5.4 million, in comparison to South Africa’s population of 52.9 million, it’s surprising really that they seem to come up with the most fantastic ideas of solving everyday challenges and problems.
First they created such a simple solution to helping prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), who would have thought a box could be the solution to such a wide-spread problem. You can read about it here: This Box Is Helping To Prevent SIDS
Now it seems they have come up with the best way to stop bullying in schools. They have implemented an anti-bullying program, KiVa, which is currently in over 90% of all schools in the country.
Many parents will know that bullying leads to a child becoming anxious or depressed. It also affects a child’s academic achievement and ability to stay motivated.
It’s a very real problem in South African schools, with an alarming 57% of SA children claiming to have been bullied at school.
KiVa is an evidence-based program to prevent and tackle bullying and was developed at the University of Turka in Finland. Teachers are able to visit the website to get online training programs and materials for lessons. A guide is available for parents on how to detect and prevent bullying.
The most interesting section on the website is the online anti-bullying games for kids. These games were developed to teach children social-emotional skills and how to respond to bullying in constructive ways.
Finland surveyed over 1000 schools and the KiVa program has been shown to reduce both self- and peer-reported bullying and victimization significantly.
If you are a parent or teacher and want to learn more about this program, you can visit the website here: kivaprogram.net
Good news is that the KiVa program is currently being evaluated in South Africa.
If you suspect your child is being bullied at school, here are a few warning signs:
- Unexplained injuries
- Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
- Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
- Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
- Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
- Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
- Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
- Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem
- Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide
And this is what you should do to help your child:
- Encourage kids to speak to a trusted adult if they are bullied or see others being bullied. The adult can give comfort, support, and advice, even if they can’t solve the problem directly. Encourage the child to report bullying if it happens.
- Talk about how to stand up to kids who bully. Give tips, like using humor and saying “stop” directly and confidently. Talk about what to do if those actions don’t work, like walking away
- Talk about strategies for staying safe, such as staying near adults or groups of other kids.
- Urge them to help kids who are bullied by showing kindness or getting help.
- Watch the short webisodes and discuss them with kids.
For an in-depth perspective of bullying prevention, what bullying is and everything you can do about it, whether you, as a parent, are dealing with your child being bullied, or your child being a bully, Mom Loves Best has written an extremely detailed article which you can find here. They have taken every aspect of bullying and laid it out in black & white, so you will know how to tell if your child is a victim of bullying and what to do about it, or if your child is the one doing the bullying. All different types of bullying is spoken about, including who is at risk and what effects bullying may have on the bullied and bully. It is a must-read for all parents.
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