Reports on violence towards children worldwide identify bullying as the most frequent and damaging form of violence encountered by the overwhelming majority of children at some stage during their time in school. Persistent bullying has lifelong psycho-social effects on both victims and bullies and cases of suicide and criminal behaviour respectively are all too common extreme consequences.Unhappy and frightened students have a reduced capacity for learning caused by their unsettled emotional state.
The UN Secretary General’s Study on Violence against Children identifies that approximately 40% of children worldwide experience bullying in schools.Bullying is identified as one of the major factors leading to under achievement, non-attendance and drop out from school by children & young peopl.
In Spain the national report “Estudio sobre la violencia y acoso escolar”, carried out in 2007 by Araceli Oñate and Iñaki Piñuel is based on surveys of 24.990 students between 7 and 17 years. According to the study, 23.2% of Spanish children have been bullied in the precering month. Most of them show psychological damages: 53.7% have post-traumatic stress symptoms, 54.8% suffer depression and 15% present recurrent suicidal ideas.
It is apparent that across Europe the incidence of bullying seems to be largely unchanged over recent decades (2006 Council of Europe Handbook Bullying Reduction in Schools – how to make a difference). However new forms of bullying are emerging as lifestyles are changing. Increasing use of social media by young people means that cyberbullying is a growing problem taking over from other forms of bullying.
The Action Anti-bullying (AAB) project is a European Commisson funded programme under the Daphne initiative. It is designing and implementing a new anti-bullying programme in 25 pilot schools from 5 EU countries (Romania, Italy, Spain, Slovenia and the UK). It draws on the experience of existing programmes and practices originated by the project partners in different cultural contexts and will provide further evidence of effective approaches to the reduction of bullying in schools that will inform the development of improved child centred, whole school strategies for adoption throughout Europe.
The project will build on and combine the strengths of each of the partner’s previous experiences and, together with recent innovative developments in solution focussed learning behaviour methodology and strategy, it will result in a coordinated range ot staff and parent training materials applying a child centred, whole school approach to the effective reduction of bullying in schools and in the home. The project will develop an on-line whole school self-review instrument for the monitoring of bullying and the evaluation of the effectiveness of the school’s organisation for use in action planning and ongoing improvements over the years..
Most students feel safe in school most of the time. Schools are usually havens of peace compared to their local community where acts of domestic violence and public order offences are more common. Even so, if learning is to be ensured for all students, schools have a duty of care to reduce the risk that students will be made to suffer from any acts of violence in school, particularly bullying
Schools free from violence, where students feel safe and secure, can create a climate for learning which results in inclusive education for happy, committed and motivated students and their retention in school-based learning through into lifelong learning. The techniques and strategies for reducing violence and promoting pro-social behaviour are very similar to the whole school approaches that generate effective learning behaviour where all members of the school community form productive relationships for learning. Consequently the programme is based on achieving the components of a model school for violence reduction The programme applies many of the approaches which good schools use to create a productive and inclusive learning environment. Initiatives to reduce bullying should therefore form part of an integrated whole school strategy to create a productive environment in which learning will flourish. By implementing strategies to reduce violence, schools will improve their overall provision for inclusive education
The specific objectives of the project are:
a) Raised awareness of all members of the school community - children & young people, parents and school staff about the harm that bullying causes and how children & young people can be protected, including solutions to the problem of rising incidents of cyber bullying in connection with the use of social networks. 6000 young people; 180 school staff; about 4000 parents will be aware of solutions to protecting children & young people from bullying.
b) As a result of staff training: Reduced number of incidents and impact of violence against children at school, resulting from an improved safe and secure whole school environment of “convivençia”.
c) Also as a result of staff training: Improved strategies and responses to incidences of bullying that will address the causes of bullying and help avoid any recurrence.
d) Training and empowerment of parents and all school staff as change agents in reducing bullying and in the education of children and young people in peer led strategies.
e) Further cooperation between schools and schools with NGOs, local school administration and other outside agencies in the reduction of bullying by adopting an improved programme and a system of exchange of best practices.
f) The development of a school review instrument for monitoring bullying and evaluating the school organisation for bullying reduction, resulting in improved knowledge on effective programmes for the reduction of bullying at school.
g) Publicising experience widely
The achievement of the project objectives will result in a widely publicised and available range of effective strategies,training materials, techniques and actions for the reduction of bullying in schools and the implementation of the UN and European Conventions on the Rights of the Child.
Because the processes for reducing bullying in schools are identical to the processes for reducing other forms of violence and many of the strategies for improving learning behaviour, the training programme and school self-review instrument will help schools develop an effective whole school environment of convivençia where violence towards children and young people in all forms will neither be tolerated nor allowed to flourish and where children’s ability to learn and their attainment is significantly improved.
The results will be increased attainment, life chances and wellbeing for all children in schools that implement the programme.
The Partners in the programme are:
In Italy - Icaro Project coordinator is a non-profit Consortium of Social Cooperatives created in 1995 with the aim to formulate a concrete answer to the problems of groups at risk of social exclusion With A.N.S.I. – The National Association of Italian Schools
In Spain - CECE is a non-profit employers´ and professional organization founded in 1977. It represents a wide educational sector in Spain from nursery school to university level.
In the UK - NCfLB at the University of Northampton provides consultation, advice and training in how to improve learning behaviour and reduce violent/bullying behaviour in schools, in child care settings and in the home.
In Slovenia – OMAMS is a Slovenian public primary school with experience in the implementation of anti-bullying campaigns leading 4 other schools in the programme
In Romania - ISJP is a Romanian Regional School Inspectorate, under the authority of the Ministry of Education. Its main task is to coordinate and to control the schools of all levels in the county of Prahova.