European Crime Prevention Award 2009 to Finland

Published 11.12.2009
The Finnish anti-bullying programme KiVa received first prize in the European Crime Prevention Award (ECPA) in December 2009 in Stockholm, Sweden.

KiVa Koulu anti-bullying program

Bullying is a serious problem that has received attention in Finland and worldwide especially since the 1990’s. There is a pressing and urgent need to find effective methods to prevent bullying and intervene in it.

KiVa Koulu is a anti-bullying program developed for national use in Finnish comprehensive schools. The program has been developed at the University of Turku (Department of Psychology and Centre for Learning Research) with funding from the Finnish Ministry of Education.

KiVa Koulu -program is a multifaceted, research-based anti-bullying program that provides schools with concrete, easily adoptable tools to reduce bullying. The main objective of KiVa is to help schools to prevent peer-to-peer bullying, to provide school personnel effective strategies to intervene in it and, consequently, to increase school well-being.

Student lessons form the basis of the KiVa program

Student lessons form the basis of the universal actions in KiVa. The lessons form a continuum lasting for the whole comprehensive education, with key issues taken up repeatedly in Grades 1, 4 and 7 in age-appropriate ways. For instance, different forms of bullying (direct and indirect bullying, cyberbullying, sexual harassment), are taken up during the lessons. The lessons also cover topics related to group interaction and respectful communication more widely. A special emphasis, however, is on how the bystanders witnessing bullying can use their potential to reduce it. Indicated actions, on the other hand, refer to tackling the acute cases of bullying by the schools' KiVa teams, consisting of three adults working in the school.

About 50% of all Finnish comprehensive schools are already implementing KiVa, with about 300 000 students being targeted by it. In October 2009 there was a chance for the rest of the schools to register as KiVa schools and start implementing the program next fall.

Excellent results

The program is being evaluated with a randomized control study involving 234 schools and over 28 000 students. The evaluation is ready for Grades 4-6 (involving about 8 000 students), with excellent results. KiVa seems to be an effective method to reduce bullying, to change the attitudes and behaviors of the witnesses into a positive direction (e.g., less reinforcing provided to the bully) and to increase school well-being. The data collected in the KiVa project are unique in the world, not only in the number of participants but also in the wealth of factors assessed

KiVa is not meant to be a project that starts and ends, but a permanent part of the schools' anti-bullying work. There are several elements built into the program which are likely to enhance the motivation and commitment of the school personnel.

Crime prevention perspective

From the perspective of crime prevention, KiVa can have both immediate and long-term impact. Some bullying taking place among peers at schools clearly fullfils the criteria of crime, and KiVa has been shown to reduce these problems. Second, children doing the bullying have a higher likelihood than others to end up as antisocial and criminal young adults, and third, the tragic school shootings, although rare, have been shown to be preceded by prolonged victimization by peers. Even apart from the most serious and rare tragedies, it is clear that bullying and victimization threaten the healthy development of children around the world.

The European Crime Prevention Network and ECPA

The European Crime Prevention Network (EUCPN) was set up in May 2001 by an EU Council Decision to promote crime prevention in Member States across the EU. One of the key functions of the EUCPN is the identification and dissemination of good practice in crime prevention.

The European Crime Prevention Award (ECPA) is a contest which aims to reward the best European crime prevention project. Each participating country may enter one project for consideration under the European Crime Prevention Award scheme.

Read more about Kiva-program and ECPA in English:

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