School bullying came to the fore again on Monday when it emerged that four 12- to 13-year-olds were suspected of being beaten by an 11-year-old during a break in the yard of Vantaa Kytöpuisto school last week.
The act was also videotaped, and the video was uploaded to social media.
Read more: Minister of Education Li Andersson on suspected assault of an 11-year-old during the break: “Educational institutions have a duty to ensure a safe study environment for the bullied”
Experts studying school bullying or dealing with the phenomenon say that bullying in general has changed in an increasingly humiliating and disgraceful direction.
In more and more cases, the act of bullying alone is no longer enough, but the entire series of events is videotaped and uploaded for all to see.
- It intensifies the impression, stamps and adds shame.
The bullied cannot control who sees the bullying, says Deputy Professor of Public Law Niina Mäntylä from the University of Vaasa.
Niina Mäntylä.Photo: University of Vaasa
- If the video is embarrassing or humiliating, it is terrible for the child's school environment, says Heikki Turkka from Aseman Lapset ry, the project manager of the project that does not address bullying.
At worst, bullying can cause long-term mental health problems.
Jenni Helenius, head of school co-operation and digital youth work at the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare, says that there is a hole in safety nets for these children.
- How to support children who have been around?
Who supports recovery and provides empowering therapy for those who have been subjected to such an act, after which it can be harassing in social settings and, for example, it can be difficult to go to one’s own class?
Jenni Helenius.Photo: MLL
Of all bullying, the proportion of physical bullying is very small but the most visible part.
- Most are nominations and exclusions.
It is also common for a child to be afraid every day, even if nothing happens every day.
He is afraid to wait for the next bullying situation, Mäntylä says.
The Children of the Station works on the most challenging cases of bullying of all.
For those who have experienced prolonged bullying or violence and where the school’s own resources have run out.
Turk says the organization has dealt with nearly 200 cases of bullying.
- There has been no case that has not been resolved at least to the level of a ceasefire.
There are also a few heroic stories involved.
If we get about 30 cases treated a year, then it will prevent quite a few onset of exclusion, Turkey mentions.
Turkka says that the KiVa school project is a good tool at the right time and when used correctly.
However, the biggest stumbling block in investigating cases of bullying is if you try to come to terms with an inflamed situation too quickly without knowing the background accurately enough.
Even if it is just a matter between one bully and a bully, there are always other people behind it, different thoughts, history, and other factors that have led to bullying.
- We first listen for a long time to what has happened and what affects what.
These are very complex things, they need to be studied really carefully.
We try to get as close to the root cause as possible.
Only then will we start to get things right, Turkey times.
Heikki Turkka.Photo: Mika Ranta
Every case of bullying is unique.
No two are alike.
Turk says that they have some common characteristics in general: learning difficulties, difficult social relationships and challenging family situations.
- If you don't know the situation, you should never solve it blindly!
The same is true if you are afraid of misunderstandings or assumptions.
We have not resolved any of the cases until we have looked at it in detail.
Turkey has found that schools are generally doing worse than before.
- Schools have become institutions for several hundred students, and the rush has increased.
Special schools and classes have been completely abolished, and students in need of special education are now there in the same large classes.
Turkey sees that schools very rarely have the means to deal with even more complex cases of bullying.
- Schools' communication with parents is in its infancy.
If we think about the conciliation situation of some conflict, then there are parents of the parties who have probably never met each other and the school also retreats behind data protection that not everything can be told.
During his own career only a couple of guardian has not consented to the information when I have asked, that is, schools do not even attempt to make things better, Turkka tap.
Read more: The parties to the Vantaa school assault video met at school - the victim's sister: no progress at all
Turkey emphasizes that in a situation of bullying, everyone needs support, both the bully but also the bully.
- Punishment has proved to be a very ineffective means.
The post-session is quite a joke among the students, and if we talk about separation from school, then the child needs support, not separation.
Mäntylä considers the KiVa project to be good in that it takes into account the whole group, the bully and the bullied, as well as outsiders and side followers.
Read more: Ulla Appelsin's comment: Can you hack a coworker in your workplace?
- However, the fact is that the people behind the project are the ones behind it.
However, everything happens in schools, and they decide what to prioritize: whether there is zero tolerance and how effectively to intervene.
It's also about attitudes, Mäntylä says.
- Don't underestimate children's conflicts.
A child’s life is equally important and valuable.
They need to be treated as seriously as adult conflicts!
Helenius hopes that a child who sees a bullying situation will have the courage to intervene immediately.
- Often a bully is a strong usurper of power who is either admired or feared and who abuses his power.
Or he teases because he fears himself being left out.
Where would you find the first brave person who would dare to say “that’s wrong, stop!”.
It would give someone else the opportunity to say the same thing or seek adult help, Helenius thought.
In the recovery of the bullied after abuse, it is important to restore trust in various relationships.
Time should be given to deal with the experiences and feelings of both parties so that instead of anger or bitterness, a sense of trust and hope is re-established.
- Good and confidential experiences in interaction situations and a profitable safety net are needed, says Anniina Pesonen, Head of the Mental Health Promotion Unit of the Finnish Mental Health Association.
- Good basic pillars are a preventive plan against bullying, teaching mental health skills, safe grouping and expert aftercare, Pesonen adds.
Anniina Pesonen. Photo: Antti Hämäläinen / IS
Experts welcome the fact that schools have begun to teach mental health and emotional skills.
Systematic practice of mental health skills in schools supports students' empathy, emotional and friendship skills, as well as self-knowledge and a culture of asking for help and speaking up.
- As far as the situation has been identified, Professor Mäntylä is happy.