Criticised anti-bullying campaigns face restart
The new school year is about to start, with more concerns about bullying. Authorities are questioning whether some programs have helped or hurt.
The National Agency for Education presented its review of anti-bullying programs in Swedish schools at the beginning of 2011. There was strong criticism of several of the programs, not only that their methods were found to be ineffective, but also that in some cases they actually resulted in more bullying or were otherwise offensive to students.
Several have changed their methods. One is the Friends foundation, whose system of “buddy support” was especially criticised, since the buddies opened themselves up for attacks.
Friends has reviewed its program, but Director General Lars Arrhenius says there is a negative side to the official criticism. He says it overshadowed the parts of the program that were working well.
Lars Arrhenius says some of the things that were reviewed were very effective. He says there’s a risk in the education agency’s approach that it leads to a kind of vacuum on the issue. He also says he thinks they aren’t really sure how to combat bullying.
"Analysis of each school and its environment is important," Lars Arrhenius says, something that Friends works hard at. "That’s the first step," he says, "and the methods to fix the problems follow."