In Spain, 70% of 15-year-old schoolchildren have been either victims or perpetrators (in many cases, both) of bullying, both in person and through new technologies.

The experts point out that this type of harassment exists in all human societies , and have asked schools to accept the problem in order to study and implement measures aimed at preventing it where it may appear and making it disappear where it exists.

The KiVa method is one of the most promising proposals in this regard .

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The origins of the KiVa method

Finland is a country that allocates great resources to education, as the latter is considered a matter of state of great importance. In recent years the Nordic country has set itself the goal of ending school bullying and improving the education system in its different aspects .

A reflection of this is that Finland has achieved in recent years a worthy first place in higher education, primary education and training in the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) thanks to the importance given to education in recent times. All the measures aimed at education have contributed to creating a powerful workforce with the appropriate skills to adapt to a constantly changing socio-economic context that has caused high levels of technological development.

The Finnish education system: one of the best in the world

Finland is currently one of the most creative and innovative nations in the EU and the world, ranking second (first place is held by Switzerland). At the time when the OECD ( Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ) prepared the PISA report, the Nordic country achieved the first places in education .

However, the Finnish education system is not perfect: Finland is also suffering from the dreadful epidemic of bullying. What tools do you use to solve bullying in Finland? Well, with the KiVa programme .

The KiVa program

The term KiVa comes from the union of the words “Kiusaamista Vastaan” (in Finnish, against bullying).

Thanks to this proposal, Finland is succeeding in eradicating bullying. This method is applied in 90% of basic education schools , and its success is such that it has become an essential tool when it comes to assessing and choosing any school in the Finnish education system, both for work, in the case of teachers, and for study, in the case of students.

The experimental stage

The KiVa programme was created at the suggestion of the Finnish government and the educational community. “The project started to be introduced at random in Finnish schools,” explains Christina Salmivalli, a professor of psychology and one of the inventors of the programme.

Years later, a study was carried out (one of the largest in the country, by the way) to see how the programme was evolving and the impact it was having on students. The results were overwhelming: the KiVa programme had reduced all types of bullying in high schools and colleges. The bullying ring had begun to work. In fact, bullying disappeared in 80% of schools . These are spectacular figures that, logically, have awakened the interest of the international educational community.

Long-term results against bullying

After one year, researchers found that the number of children and adolescents suffering from bullying had decreased by 41%. But the method not only solved the problem but the program also increased students’ comfort and motivation to study, thus boosting their grades.

The Finnish embassy in Madrid states that 98 percent of the 1,000 schools that collaborated in the programme in 2009 believed that school life had significantly improved during the first year in which the KiVa method was applied, something that is confirmed by numerous studies.

Such is the success of the programme that the KiVa method has received the European Crime Prevention Award in 2009, among others.

One of the best ways to understand the potential of this KiVa anti-bullying program is through an example. Karamzin School had a serious problem with bullying, so the KiVa programme was launched in the school during 2008: during the first year of implementation, bullying was reduced by 60% .

How does the KiVa method work?

The method used in the KiVa programme is not to focus on the dialectic of victim and bully confrontation (neither treating the victim to be more extraverted nor trying to change the bully to develop empathy) but is based on acting on the student witnesses who laugh at such a situation.

In many cases, these viewers internalize that what happens is normal, even fun, even if they have a different underlying opinion. What the method aims to do is to influence these viewers not to participate indirectly in the harassment . If this is achieved, the bully, who needs recognition to continue with the bullying, stops bullying because it does not bring him any benefit.

In short, the programme is based on trying to keep viewers from laughing at the young people who are the aggressor in the harassment. Simple, but effective.

The details of the program

In the KiVa program students are taught in about 20 classes at the ages of 7, 10 and 13 (key ages in child development) to identify different forms of bullying. In this way, they are made aware of the different forms of bullying from an early age.

There are ten syllabuses and works that are carried out throughout the course and where moral values such as empathy and respect for others are taught. Many resources are used: talks, video games, manuals for teachers, surveillance at recess, films… even a virtual mailbox to report if they are witnesses or victims of bullying.

The KiVa team

In every school the principal chooses a KiVa team composed of three adults who detect and investigate cases of school bullying r .

First they determine whether the harassment is timely or ongoing. Then they talk to the victim to reassure them. Then they talk to the bullies to sensitize them and to the witnesses, who are the cornerstone of the program, so that bullying is reduced.

The potential of the method

This drastic change in a number of Finnish schools may give an idea of the qualitative changes at a social level that this type of program could have not only in the schools, but in the different cultural strata of adults educated through these methods.

If we are educated from the earliest stages not to passively support acts of violence of this kind, it is conceivable that the mentality of adults will also change in many ways. Only time will tell if this kind of sudden cultural change will happen . The repercussions of the KiVa programme can go far beyond the fight against bullying; they can be the seed for a more just, supportive and cohesive society.