Denmark, along with Sweden and Finland, has one of the lowest rates of bullying in Europe. We speak to teachers, students and parents to find out how this Nordic country is combating harassment in schools.
Copenhagen’s Slursholmen Skole is one of the Danish schools where bullying is less common than in other parts of Europe, where children are taught how to avoid bullying from an early age.
Meditation and cuddles are part of the morning routine for primary school students in Slushholmen Skole. For teacher Maya Hinzgaul, happiness is the key to learning.
“If something is difficult, I can talk to them about it. And I actually talk a lot about who I am and what I like. And if they like hugs, It’s okay, I like it too,” she said. euronews.
“Of course children have to learn things like reading and writing, but they can do that if they feel safe. My mission is to give you that.”
Part of the teaching is learning how to live with each other.
“We always try to get kids to work together in different types of groups, across genders, not necessarily with their best friends,” said teacher Louise Ibsen. “They also practice social skills, such as how to communicate and how to compromise on different ideas.”
These methods are just a few examples of programs used in many schools in Denmark to prevent bullying from kindergarten onwards. And the children are very accepting.
“Everyone has the utmost respect for each other,” said student Polly Schlüter Bingestam. “If you are bullied, your friends will help you because they will stop the bullying and call the teacher.”
Fatemeh Sharmavand is a parent and a member of the school board. This allows parents to participate in decisions about school programs, which Fatemeh says plays an important role in preventing bullying.
“The most important thing is that when we see our kids in a bad mood, we take it seriously and try to find out what the problem is, and that we as parents talk to our kids and try to make them feel better.” I think it’s about finding ways to toughen them up, so they can learn how to deal with adversity,” she told Euronews.
‘Being a teenager is hard’: Impact of the internet and coronavirus lockdown
Denmark, along with Sweden and Finland, has one of the lowest rates of bullying in Europe. However, a call center run by Danish children’s rights NGO Borns Wilker has seen an increase in the number of calls related to bullying and suicidal thoughts, especially among teenagers.
“We receive complaints about bullying from all age groups, but it seems to be a particular problem for children aged 10 to 15,” said Rasmus Kjeldahl, CEO of Børns Vilkår. To tell. “That’s why it’s so important for a child to belong to a group. The act of bullying is expulsion from the group.”
“Bullying doesn’t stop when you leave school, and the digital influence is making it even worse,” he added.
Helle Hansen is a researcher in education and school bullying. She is one of the experts who designed an anti-bullying program introduced in Danish schools 15 years ago.
While such programs have been successful, she says they need to be reinvented in light of new realities.
“Being a teenager is more difficult. There was lockdown, there was coronavirus. It became lonely. Well-being in general is facing difficulties. Young people and children involved in bullying They need something to do.” Understand what it means to be here and to be a part of it. ”
“If we can’t understand them, they’re going to come across as meaningless. And meaninglessness is part of the reason they start bullying each other.”
The importance of communication and student-led governance
For the principal of Grebe Gymnasium High School near Copenhagen, understanding teenagers comes naturally. Like many schools in Denmark, our anti-bullying charter is available on our website.
Most important than sanctions are group dynamics and interaction with students. They have a say in anti-bullying strategies, as well as in all the rules that govern school life.
“We approach our students in a variety of ways, asking them about their teaching methods, their teaching principles, what they do in their breaks, what they do in their spare time, and of course how they interact on social media. We try to talk about it, as well as lessons about it,” said Mette Tranbek, principal of the Greve Gymnasium School.
“It is very important that we dare to get closer to them and facilitate their lives, not only in the classroom, but also in their leisure lives. Trust is a way of closely engaging with them. That’s why we’re working on trust. But it’s also about addressing problems.”
It was the trust we were able to witness in our final year math class. A group of students, with their teacher’s permission, decided to leave the room to tell us about the bullying.
“I am an authority in my field of mathematics and history. But I am not an authority on what you should do or think. That is responsibility,” said Sanne Ide Schmidt, teacher of mathematics and history. told the students.
“I think a lot of bullying comes from hierarchies that don’t work, and people try to seize power by bullying someone else. And because they have power over their own lives to begin with, they try to seize power by bullying someone else. If there is no need to take power, then it’s a different situation,” she told Valery Golia.
“Students have a huge say in the decisions that schools make,” said Mathias Keimling, a student representative on the school board. “If we hear that a fellow student has a problem, we can make it right.” We will present it to the board, where our opinions will be heard. ”
Co-student Lucija Mikić feels that the incidence of bullying is lower in Denmark than in other parts of Europe. That’s because young people “learn from an early age to treat others the way you want to be treated. It’s deeply embedded in the way we’re taught.” ,” she says. “And that’s something to think about before you say something to someone else.”
For classmate Jonathan Emil Bloch Teute, the way children and teenagers interact with adults also plays an important role. “Teachers and parents are seen as confidants and mentors, rather than authority figures to be respected and answered to. If you have experienced bullying, anyone in Denmark can help you solve this problem.” I think there are older people. ”
After the conversation, the students cheerfully reunited with their math teacher.
“They missed math class, but they learned other important things. Deciding what is important is part of being an adult,” smiles Sanne Ide Schmidt. “Being the person you are meant to be is part of feeling good about yourself, and that prevents bullying.”
One of her students, Ksenia Marie Beer Wilkens, nodded approvingly. “Denmark is good at giving us the feeling that we are people, that we are individuals, that our voices are heard and that we are seen.”
“And importantly!” Sanne added. “You are yourself, but you are part of a community. We are separate, but we are together.”