Save the Children Organization: Bullying prevention program

English Section / 13 noiembrie 2023

Save the Children Organization: Bullying prevention program

Versiunea în limba română

Violence among children is a major problem. The Save the Children Organization is implementing a bullying prevention program in 60 kindergartens in Bucharest and across the country, aiming to foster positive relationships among children and between children and adults. The 60 kindergartens participating in the "Let's Be Friends - No Bullying" program receive training for specialists and specific educational tools to develop the capacity of both children and adults to intervene when a child is facing bullying. These tools include a friendly teddy bear, guides for specialists, activity books, conversation cards, and examples to guide discussions with children. According to the organization, these materials help children express their emotions and develop a deeper understanding of their role in interactions with friends. As a result, the overall group of children becomes stronger.

Through the use of materials, engagement in numerous conversations, and group activities, children, parents, and specialists learn how to manage teasing and bullying. Gabriela Alexandrescu, Executive President of Save the Children Romania, stated, "This program builds positive relationships among children and between children and adults. The methodology of this program was developed by the Mary Foundation in Denmark and Save the Children Denmark in 2007. It is already implemented in many European countries and beyond. (...) It is a program based on values that we transmit to children, namely tolerance, care, respect, and courage. We piloted this program from 2019 to 2022, adapted it, and received very constructive feedback from the 17 kindergartens we worked with. So far, we have worked with 3,000 children, 4,200 parents, and 214 specialists."

She emphasized that adults have a duty to develop prevention programs and intervene with empathy when difficult situations arise among children. Alexandrescu mentioned that the first study on bullying in Romania was conducted in 2016, revealing that this phenomenon is "extremely common" in all school environments. "In 2016, three out of 10 children were excluded from the group, 75% declared they participated in and witnessed acts of bullying, one in four children was humiliated by their peers, and unfortunately, this phenomenon has developed and grown. Analyzing in 2022 among over 5,000 students, we observed that the number of those who have been victims of bullying has increased significantly, almost doubled, from 29% in 2016 who said they were victims of bullying to 49%. This is why it is important to focus heavily on prevention."

According to Alexandrescu, 600 specialists from kindergartens - educators, directors, and counselors - have already been trained to use the program's methodology, and throughout the 2023-2024 school year, they will work with 8,800 preschoolers and their parents to create inclusive and safe educational communities and help children build positive relationships.

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