November 5th : International day against violence and bullying at school including cyberbullying

5 November 2020

First in Switzerland : Institut International de Lancy implements the anti-bullying programme KiVa developed by the University of Turku, Finland.

Today, 5th of November is the International day against violence and bullying at school including cyberbullying recognised by UNESCO and its member states. Today, some form of school bullying is identified in every school around the world. In Switzerland, estimates indicate between 10 à 13 % of children are victims of some type of bullying with more than 15% of children experience bullying at school. It is estimated a 2% increase in the reported cases of bullying. The local education system requires that every school has some protocol in place.

Institut International de Lancy (IIL) has always sensitised its students to the concerns of school bullying however this effort was enhanced in 2018 with the arrival of a new director general, Mme. Monique Roiné. In 2020, the Finnish programme KiVa was implemented at IIL. This comprehensive programme addresses school bullying through prevention, intervention and monitoring. Today, IIL is the only KiVa certified school in Switzerland.

The Importance of Defining School Bullying

School bullying can encompass different forms and is targeted against a child who is often alone. Inflicted by one or more pupils, these attacks may take the form of insults, threats, rumours, blackmail or rejection.

“It is important to define what bullying is, as we tend to confuse the definition. Bullying is something that is repeated and deliberate. There is never just one bully and one victim. A whole group dynamic is set up, including silent witnesses, the enablers, the victim’s defenders, etc. It is important to work on the group as a whole,” explains Francisco Benavente, Guidance Counsellor, Educational Project Manager and KiVa Coordinator at IIL.

Bullying in schools can have serious consequences for a child who is the victim, including suicidal thoughts and the act in question. Today, the continued harassment of bullied children continues outside the school walls and onto digital platforms and social networks. This is known as cyber-bullying.

Often children will show signs of their despair through changes in behaviour: withdrawal, low self-esteem and self-confidence or even aggressiveness. Other changes can be reflected in academic results, increased absenteeism, loss of concentration in class, etc.

KiVa, The Anti-Bullying program for schools

The KiVa anti-bullying programme was developed at the University of Turku in Finland in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Based on scientific research and funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture, the KiVa programme has been integrated into 90% of Finnish schools and is now used in more than 18 countries. Today, 98% of bullied students who have benefited from the KiVa programme felt that their situation had improved.

The KiVa programme is child-centered. It is designed to be taught to children in an interactive way, to train adults and to empower all those who may be confronted with bullying. The programme contains three age-appropriate units. The aim of KiVa is to prevent bullying and to tackle specific cases. KiVa is based on three main foundations: prevention through training of school staff and through interactive role-playing and school activities for children, intervention through a specific process implemented by the school’s KiVa team and finally, monitoring which is carried out twice a year in the form of anonymous online surveys.

Implementation of the KiVa programme at Institut International de Lancy (IIL)

Since her arrival as Director General at IIL in 2018, Mrs. Monique Roiné has wanted to strengthen the current system against school bullying and work on this issue which she has addressed throughout her career in schools around the world. Within the first year, a task force of 15 staff members was set up to evaluate and determine the most appropriate programme for IIL.

“The team met regularly and explored different programmes that exist around the world. We also undertook trips to visit different schools. Then we discovered the KiVa programme with the European school in Luxembourg,” explains Monique Roiné, IIL’s Director General.

Today, Institut International de Lancy is the only school in Switzerland to be accredited with the KiVa programme. Since May 2020, IIL has trained 100% of its teachers and support staff including bus drivers, maintenance staff, etc.

“What appealed to us was that the programme contains not only a plan of action in case of problems, but also important prevention and training modules that take place throughout the year. It’s a bilingual, all-in-one programme, which is particularly interesting for an international school like IIL,” continues Francisco Benavente, KiVa Coordinator at IIL.

In parallel to the KiVa programme, IIL has established a partnership with Amnesty International, to organise various complementary workshops for students, raising awareness of human rights and promoting values of tolerance and empathy.

Encouraging First Results

A total of 946 IIL students participated in the first KiVa survey in May. About 12% of the students responded that they had experienced some kind of bullying during their schooling.

“Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a school without any form of bulling. Today, it is important to recognise it, talk about it and take action in order to give students the right tools. The KiVa programme is designed to help in this sense,” says Francisco Benavente, KiVa Coordinator at IIL.

Initial results are encouraging, according to a study carried out by the KiVa UK team based at Bangor University as part of the Centre for Evidence-based Early Intervention in Wales. This research centre has, in particular, carried out various surveys in some 20 primary schools in Wales implementing the programme. The results show a significant drop in cases of bullying at school.