Project objectives – The overall project goal is to involve children in preventing bullying and in creating safe school environment, in a participatory and empowering way, using as a guiding principle the right of children to participate in matters that concern them.
The specific objectives were to create an enabling environment for school children (aged 7-16) from 7 EU countries to share their views on bullying and engaging them in a participatory process of social change in the school setting; to develop child-centered methodology for building teachers’ capacity to respond timely to bullying in school settings; to enhance community stakeholders’ capacity to intervene in bullying cases; to lobby for a child-centered approach in designing and applying anti-bullying polices and prevention programs.
The project established a successful partnership among seven organisations: the coordinating organisation Animus Association Foundation (Bulgaria) and the partners Barnardo’s (UK), The City of Gothenburg (Sweden), International Child Development Initiatives (The Netherlands), Linka Detskej Istoty (Slovakia), Save the Children (Romania), and SPI Forschung (Germany).
We started from creating a space for school children from the participating countries to share their views on bullying, violence and safety at school, by participating in interactive empowerment workshops, which provided material for the creation of the booklet with children’s materials. Based on the expressed children’s point of view and shared expectations, we provided intensive and long-term participatory training for the teachers and school staff to increase their capacity to recognise early signs of bullying and to intervene effectively in school settings. Interactive prevention workshops with children together with trained teachers were held. We built stakeholders’ capacity for action with a view of early identification and prevention of bullying in community settings by providing support to affected children and their parents via counselling programmes. We evaluated anti-bullying policies in the seven EU countries based on a child perspective and developed recommendations for their improvement by conducting a research and provide research summary and recommendation paper based on the research findings. They were used as well as lobbying tools for the lobby activities on local and EU level.
Results include improved opportunities for children in the seven EU member states to participate in building a violence-free climate at school as well as, with the increased children’s competence for non-violent communication, early recognition and reaction to school bullying. Other important outcomes are connected with the increased capacity of the teachers to recognise and respond in situations of bullying, to respect children viewpoints and to collaborate with key stakeholders. An additional result is improvement of the collaboration between school authorities, parents, and community child protection resource organisations in supporting child victims of bullying. The project also assessed the existing anti-bullying practices and provided guidelines and recommendations for their improvement. The research findings were translated into the key messages of the lobby activities.
The main impact is an increased awareness of child rights and a greater understanding the importance of being active and participating in decision making among the child participants. On the participating teachers and school staff, the long-term project effects cover gaining knowledge on topics related to the issue of school bullying, developing professional skills and capacity to engage children and adolescents in the design of anti-bullying policies and activities. Parents and teacher are now more open to listen to children’s opinions and to review their own communication as a result of the sensitisation provided by the booklet. The booklet contained the children’s point of view and their feedback visually and emotionally expressed. Thanks to the awareness raising and lobby activities, carried out under the project, children, parents, professionals working with children, and key stakeholders in the seven EU participating countries had access to information and training materials about the prevention of bullying, and other social services and training opportunities.