Why was the programme created?
Bullying at schools in Helsinki according to a school health survey
According to the school health survey carried out by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, bullying at comprehensive schools and upper secondary schools in Helsinki decreased in the 2010s. In spite of this, in 2019 one third of 4th and 5th graders and one quarter of 8th and 9th graders still reported being bullied at school. Weekly bullying was reported by eight per cent of lower stage comprehensive school pupils and five per cent of upper stage comprehensive school pupils. Repeated bullying, in particular, has been shown by numerous studies to have long-term negative impacts on children’s well-being and development.
While bullying becomes less prevalent in upper secondary schools, approximately one in ten upper secondary school students in Helsinki reported being bullied during the school year. Weekly bullying was reported by one per cent of general upper secondary school students and two per cent of vocational upper secondary school students.
While in 2010 more than one third of upper stage comprehensive school pupils admitted participating in the bullying of the pupils, in 2019 the figure had decreased to 15 per cent. In vocational education and training, one in ten students admitted participating in bullying during the school year, while the corresponding figure for general upper secondary school students was five per cent. The figure remains high at lower stage comprehensive schools, with one fifth of 4th and 5th graders participating in bullying other pupils.
Both bullies and those being bullied were more often boys and pupils with a foreign background. At upper stage comprehensive schools, six per cent of boys were bullied weekly, while the corresponding figure for girls was four per cent. Of lower stage comprehensive school pupils with foreign backgrounds, 11 per cent were bullied weekly, while the corresponding figure for pupils with a Finnish background was 7 per cent (data from 2017). Of upper stage comprehensive school pupils with foreign backgrounds, nine per cent were bullied weekly, while the corresponding figure for pupils with a Finnish background was four per cent. Bullying was notably more targeted at first generation foreign background pupils than second generation ones.
It is difficult to prevent bullying effectively and the use of social media as a tool for bullying poses additional challenges about prevention. Bullying also often remains hidden from adults, as only 64 per cent of lower stage comprehensive school students who had been involved in a bullying incident had reported the bullying to an adult at school. Of the lower stage comprehensive school pupils who had reported bullying to an adult at school, one fifth felt that the bullying had continued uninterruptedly or even worsened after being reported.