Promising Finnish Anti-Bullying Program Empowers Bystanders to Take Action

‘KIVA’ IS FINNISH FOR ‘NICE.’ It’s also the name of an anti-bullying program that, according to a study led by a UCLA psychology professor, can be “particularly effective in facilitating perceptions of a caring school climate among students who were most victimized.”

The 12-month study, looking at 7,010 fourth to sixth grade Finnish elementary school students, found that KiVa “reduced the depression of the 4 percent of sixth graders who were bullied…“on at least a weekly basis” and “improved self-esteem among the approximately 15 percent of sixth graders who had been bullied at least a few times per month.”

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, an estimated 22 percent of U.S. students reported being bullied in 2013.

The key to the KiVa—short for “KiVasaamist Vastaan,” the Finnish words for “against bullying”—is to create a school culture that shuns bullying behaviors. The program—a mix of lessons, roleplaying and online simulations—is designed to educate and empower bystanders to step up and intervene when such instances occur.

Developed at a Finnish university (and used in 90 percent of all schools in the country), KiVa has been implemented in other European countries as well as in Lawrence Public Schools in Kansas. Here are clips of a few of the anti-bullying simulation exercises in action at a primary school in Wales.

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