Bullying in Denmark

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Scandinavian countries are active in coming up with anti-bullying programs, and seem interested in finding solutions. Bullying in Denmark still exists of course, but not as much as in some places around the world, and there are efforts to control it there.

The Mary Foundation, which is part of the HRH Crown Princess Mary Foundation, has created a program called “Free of Bullying” that seeks to educate very young children in this area. The program is taught in preschools and primary schools, and is aimed at helping children learn to deal with bullies.

While much effort has gone into raising bullying awareness, and even stopping the bullies from doing what they do, this program is more aimed at helping those that could become victims not be bullied. The program says bullying is not as prevalent when children are aware of the difference between teasing for fun and teasing to be mean. They learn that it is OK to say no and to help others. The program believes that fostering well being and inclusion is key to preventing bullying. There is less emphasis on why people bully, and more on inclusiveness.

“It is clear that children attending preschools and schools that work intensively with Free of Bullying are significantly better at handling teasing and bullying,” Jan Kampmann, a professor of psychology at Roskilde University said.

Even with these programs though, there is still bullying. A study by the Danish Center for Ungdomsstudier said as many as 20 percent of children in grades 3-5 in this country still report being bullied at times.  Further, the study showed 13 percent of children stopped participating in activities they liked because of being bullied. Bullying statistics show there is still a problem.

Middle school bullying is the most common age, and there is some high school bullying and that seems as true in Denmark as anywhere. How to handle bullying is being taken on at a younger age in Denmark, and bullying information shows it has brought about improvement.

This program promotes the idea of “thriving” for the entire group. This means that children learn self confidence, and are not considered weak by themselves or by others. One of the signs of bullying is that the victim appears not confident, and therefore is an easy target. This program aims to make all the children confident, so they will not be easy targets. The focus is on strengthening all the children.  If there is an atmosphere of inclusion, none will feel left out, and that will prevent many opportunities for bullies.

Hella Rabol Hansen, a bullying expert, said children may drop out of sports or other activities because of bullying, and advocated youth programs focus on that aspect to keep children engaged.

Also in Denmark, Royalty is involved in the bullying issue. Crown Princess Mary, for whom the Mary Foundation is named, is active in anti-bullying campaigns and has visited schools to talk about bullying. On a recent visit to Centennial Public School in Ottawa, she used the terminology “walk away, ignore, talk it out, seek help” as the basic guidelines to prevent bullying in schools.

Part of her strategy is to also help children help those are are being bullied. Many believe it is important for people to speak up when they see bulling, and believe that this is a good way to help prevent the problem.

“This is talking about how you can deal with people who are a problem, so it gives the children some strategies and equips them for dealing with them.”  Princess Mary said in news reports.

Her program believes strongly in the idea of talking out the problem. The more bullying is talked about, and the more people speak up for those being bullied, the better the situation becomes. Whether it is physical or verbal, taking the time to define it and talking it out is a way to prevent bullying in Denmark.

Even with this progressive program, there is still room for improvement. The Red Barnet group did a study and found a third of the schools in Denmark do not have a formal strategy on how to prevent, or how to deal with, bullying. This report was published in January of 2016, and reported no change over the previous year. The group and the Danish Association for Schools, planned to launch a program in Esbjerg when school started in August.

Raising bulling awareness of Bullying in Denmark is seen as a key to reducing the problem. Bullying is a serious problem with long term effects. A study by the University of Copenhagen showed people who have been bullied are nine times more likely to suffer from depression. Work place bullying, and adult bullying, carries over from childhood bullying, the report said.

“We know that bullying affects one’s self-confidence and self-esteem. So it is easily imaginable that bullying pushes towards depression and maybe triggers it or makes it worse than it otherwise would have been.”  said Paul Videbech, a professor at Aarhus University.

This particular study involved 4,485 adults over a three-year period and concerned workplace bullying. Another interesting point was whether bullying leads to depression or whether depression leads one to feel more bullied. The study recognized that depression may make one more susceptible to bullying. The study did however, show there is a relationship between the two. Office bullying continues, and characteristics of bullying in Denmark do not seem to change with age.

Studies are also showing bullying continues at work. The Danish Work Environment Cohort Study, showed that while working conditions improved in some ways, there was an increase in the reports of work bullying in 2010, over the previous study that was done in 2005. This study showed bulling in Denmark had increased from 11 percent to 14 percent over those five years. The numbers were virtually identical for women and men, with both reporting around 14 percent.

There is also some question about identifying bullying in Denmark. In one study people were asked if they had been bullied and only eight percent said they had in the past month. However, when shown a list of 32 acts that could be considered bullying, more than a third said they had experienced one of those behaviors at work. This could include being given unreasonable deadlines, having their opinions ignored or important information about the job was withheld.

Another issue that has arisen in Europe is that of Muslim children assimilating into the schools. Many in Germany say there has been a problem with Muslim students harassing native Germans. A report by the Copenhagen Barometer, said this has not been an issue yet in Denmark. The Exbus Research group said it does not see the German trend unfolding in their country. There is bullying, but it seems more spread out among children in general, the report said.

Cyberbullying laws are also in effect in Denmark. Facts about cyberbullying are not much different than other types of bullying here. Internet bullying or facebook bullying are parts of the same study in Denmark. Even so a Pew Research poll found 20 percent of kids had been cyberbullied, which is higher than the face to face bullying in Denmark numbers among teen kids.

 

 

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