On the same side - Vantaa, Espoo, Helsinki and Kauniainen join forces to battle bullying at school

With this campaign, the cities wish to show that they stand united on the side of children and the young against bullying.

The metropolitan area municipalities are joining their forces and expertise to battle bullying and violence at school and in leisure time. The On the Same Side campaign is supported by Helsinki, Western and Eastern Uusimaa police, the National Police Board, and the Ministry of the Interior.

“Preventing bullying is our shared task. We adults will not close our eyes to bullying or violence, and we will not look the other way. There can be no threshold to intervening in bullying,” says Deputy Mayor Katri Kalske of the City of Vantaa.

Bullying and violence or the threat of them always leave a scar. No single case shall be left undetected; each and every case must be handled. Adults must have time to encounter the young in their everyday lives, to genuinely care, and to ask the young how they are doing.

“We have conducted preventive work here in Espoo for a number of years, and our most important task is to intervene in bullying. It is important that the young know the school’s joint ground rules and whom to turn to in case of bullying. We encourage the young to turn to a safe adult, when they are facing trouble. A safe adult can be, for instance, the child's guardian or a member of the school staff who will listen to the child and help to solve the situation,” says Harri Rinta-aho, Director of Espoo’s Education Department.

Adults must take bullying seriously

The police emphasize that adults must take it seriously, when a child tells them about bullying at school.

“At present, bullying mostly takes the forms of excluding and mental violence, but it may culminate in a crime, for example, in case of abuse or illegal threats. So, we are talking about very serious matters,” reminds Detective Inspector Simo Kauppinen of Eastern Uusimaa Police Department.

“The bullies usually explain their bullying by saying that it was just “a joke.” This kind of joke may, however, have long-standing consequences for the lives of both the bullied and the bully. It is good to keep in mind that also minors are responsible for damages. Adults should address these issues together with their children and make sure the children understand,” Kauppinen continues.

Adopting preventive skills

It is possible to prevent bullying at school and in leisure time by deploying appropriate skills, which include, for example, emotional and interaction skills, as well as social skills. It is crucial that children and the young learn these skills. Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa all have their own models and tools that schools can utilize.

“Helsinki uses an anti-bullying program (KVO13) that focuses on preventing bullying, for instance, by teaching social and emotional skills, by monitoring students’ wellbeing with various indicators, and by implementing constant grouping when a new student begins studying in the class. The more long-term cases of bullying will be solved together with the third sector, with the police and, for example, youth work and mediation,” tells Liisa Pohjolainen, Head of the City of Helsinki’s Education Division.

Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen’s joint anti-bullying social media campaign against bullying at school will last till the end of the school year. During the year, the cities will inform about their measures to prevent and intervene in bullying from the perspectives of, for instance, cooperation between authorities, youth work or mental health work.

Reportage will utilize the #samallapuolella hashtag that will bring the themes and the cities together. The long-term goal is to involve the society's actors working with schools and guardians in the work against bullying. Refusing to bully will be made into a bold and desirable choice.

“By partnering with the guardians and other actors, we can defeat bullying and improve the wellbeing of the young in both schools and leisure,” the cities emphasize.

Published: 10.12.2020 
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