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Testing an effective Anti-bullying programme for Wales

A research centre at Bangor University, which has been instrumental in researching and introducing new and innovative services for children and their families that have been adopted across Wales, is now turning its attention to the problem of school bullying.

The Centre for Evidence Based Early Intervention, who have successfully introduced a number of child behaviour programmes which have been adopted by families, schools, Sure Start areas and others, and who have advised and influenced Welsh Government policy, are now researching the effectiveness of an anti-bullying programme for schools.

Their current research, with partners, the Dartington Social Research Unit, and funded by a BIG Lottery Innovation in Wales, is assessing the effectiveness of a school anti-bullying programme.  Also contributing by conducting a cost-effectiveness analysis of the programme, is the University’s Centre for Health Economics and Medicines Evaluation.

Professor Judy Hutchings, Director of the Centre for Evidence Based Early Intervention (CEBEI) at the School of Psychology said:

“Bullying is a big problem in our schools and among children and young people and we hear frequent stories of bullying whether in person or via social media ‘cyber-bullying’ in the media.  Although statistics suggest that the problem in Wales is no worse than elsewhere, the Welsh government and educationalists are keen to address the problem. Before spending limited public money, any programmes have to be proven to be effective and to provide value for money before they are introduced, and that’s where we have decades of expertise.

“We’ve looked for effective programmes to deal with bullying, and I think we’ve found a good programme in the KiVa anti-bullying programme. It was developed in the University of Turku, Finland and funded by the Finnish government.  Although successful there, it is still vital that we measure the effectiveness of the programme in our own schools before advocating its introduction across the country,” she added.

Suzy Clarkson, a  researcher and PhD student  at Bangor University explains:

“‘KiVa’, which stands for ‘nice’ in Finnish and is also an acronym for ‘against bullying’ is an all-inclusive programme with class lessons, web-based games to test children’s learning, a website for parents, comprehensive material for teachers, KiVa playground vests, school posters and a structured approach to dealing with actual reported bullying incidents.  Finnish research has shown the programme to be extremely effective in reducing self-reported bullying and victimisation. The programme has now been rolled out across Finland with Finnish Government funding.

The current research involves children aged between 7-11 at 21 Welsh primary schools. In half, the KiVa programme is being introduced during this school year, and compared to the other 10 schools, who will introduce the programme in a year’s time. This builds on the pilot trial in seventeen schools already undertaken over the last year.

Suzy added: “While not tested against control schools, who did not have the programme, our pilot trial in fourteen Welsh and three Cheshire schools provided sufficient positive results for us to run a larger controlled trial using bilingual materials for the children in twenty-one schools throughout Wales.”

Taking part in the project are Ysgol Llanllechid. Mrs Gwenan Davies Jones, who is headteacher there commented: “The school has been involved in this exciting KIVA programme over the last year and the pupils’ interpersonal skills have certainly improved. They have worked together through their understanding of what makes a KIVA school to strengthen their friendships and relations with others. The pupils are able to recognise any signs of conflict and are always eager to help others.”

For more information about KiVa go to:

Publication date: 23 October 2013