Research and experience clearly show that the best way to stop bullying is to invest more resources in preventive measures. Another important factor is collaboration, a whole community approach.
Zero tolerance for bullying. All children have the right to grow up in a safe, kind, and inclusive environment. It’s our, us adults’ responsibility to create this environment.
Our focus is to increase awareness about bullying, and provide knowledge and tools, so that those working with children and youth are better equipped to work against bullying, harassment, and any form of degrading treatment.
We work with a whole organization approach, and a norm critical approach permeates all our education.
Our education origins from Friends, founded in Sweden in 1997 and now the country’s largest organization working to stop and prevent bullying. Friends work closely with universities and runs research projects related to bullying together with universities and the international network.
New and current knowledge and insights enables our methods, education, and tools to continuously be developed and updated. Friends is also a highly respected contributor at conferences and forums around the world, and the initiator of WABF (the World Anti-Bullying Forum).
We want to create a society without bullying. Where every child feels loved and respected. Where no one falls asleep sad, wakes up with anxiety and leaves home with a lump in their stomach. Where self-esteem overcomes self-hatred. The children need our support, and we need yours. Together we can stop bullying.
We usually define bullying as a systematic degrading treatment. A child can be subjected to several types of degrading treatment and harassments, for example physical abuse, mean comments, and being excluded. The term bullying highlights that there is a pattern with the degrading treatment and harassment.
Just calling this pattern bullying, and not looking closer into each incident, means that we ignore the underlying causes that help us understand why it happens, and consequently the efforts to stop and prevent the bullying will be less effective.
So it may or may not be bullying, but degrading treatment. How do we define degrading treatment? We usually describe it to kids as: If you are treated in a way that makes you feel sad, hurt and devalued.
Degrading (negative) treatment can be divided into three main forms, including on social media/online. Sometimes they occur simultaneously:
Verbal – e.g. name calling, comments, rumor spreading
Physical – e.g. hitting, pushing, kicking, spreading demeaning photos
Psychosocial – e.g. excluding, ignoring, making mean or insinuating faces
Using words as “the bully”, “the victim”, etc. implies this is who they are, instead of looking at the action or situation. Kids go in and out of roles, and the child might be bullied in school, while at the same time being the one bullying someone else on the sports team. It is important to analyze the underlying cause for each incident and we need to support and allow our kids to make a different choice the next time they are in a similar situation.
It is the responsibility of adults to work for every child’s right to not be bullied – all adults, whether we are parents/guardians, work with children, or meet children in other contexts.
This work also need to be based on the children’s experiences and perceptions. Their involvement and influence is crucial in order to make the efforts and measures relevant and effective.
We adults also have to be role models. Children don’t do as we say, they do what we do. By being good role models we create a society that promotes openess and understanding for differences. Are we good role models? Examples of questions to reflect over:
How do I behave on social media? What do I post/share? What pictures or videos? How do I express myself? How do I comment on others posts?
How do I talk about other people when my child is around? Do I comment people on TV in a respectful way? How do I talk about people in general? For example, talking negatively about someone you might have a conflict with affects everyone around. (Instead, talk directly to the person you have a conflict with.)
How do I show moral courage in my everyday life? Do I actively take a stand and speak up or intervene in other ways when I hear or see something I feel is wrong? When you do, this can encourage and strengthen your child do to the same
No child should have to suffer because their school or sports club don’t have resources to work to stop and prevent bullying. Our philosophy is to keep our education affordable for all schools and youth sports clubs. This is why sponsors and donors play a crucial role to ensure we can continue to educate more youth sports clubs, reach into schools and other organizations, and help more children grow up in an environment where they can thrive.