Fight against school bullying: the example of Denmark

In Hvidovre, a town south of Copenhagen, Langhojskolen welcomes 740 students, ranging from CP to 5e. Like most educational establishments in Denmark, the school presents its “anti-harment strategy” on its website. In the introduction, harment is defined as “a social phenomenon that includes and excludes through processes of extreme marginalization” And “occurs in groups”. To deal with this, Langhojskolen works on prevention, carried out from a very young age, ” at all levels “. “Harment is easier to prevent than to stop”notes the text, which underlines “adult responsibility”and describes the measures planned by the school, in the event of a report.

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It is this model which will be explained to the national Minister of Education, Gabriel Attal, expected in Copenhagen, Friday September 22. Twenty-five years ago, Denmark was a bad performer in Northern Europe: in 1998, a third of students aged 11 and a fifth of those aged 15 said they were victims of bullying. In 2020, there were less than one in ten, while only 3% of boys aged 13 to 15 admitted to haring other children, compared to almost half twenty years earlier.

The mobilization began at the end of the 1990s, says Rasmus Kjeldahl, president of the NGO Borns Vilkar (“the condition of children”): “We then understood that there was a real problem and that we could act to try to limit it. » To begin, the country decides to measure the phenomenon. Annual surveys are carried out in schools to ess the well-being of children. “This made it possible to identify the municipalities, establishments and groups of students which were the most exposed”specifies Mr. Kjeldahl.

From kindergarten

At the same time, researchers are looking into the subject. Their discovery will transform the way we approach the problem: “Until then, we approached it from the angle of the relationship between the aggressor and his victim. The traditional way was to punish the bully, for example by changing schools. The work showed that harment was the product of a culture in a group, where everyone plays a role, including everyone who observes without reacting.explains Rasmus Kjeldahl.

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In schools, the emphasis is on prevention. “We work very hard to help children function as a group and allow everyone to express themselves”, says Henrik Wilhelmsen, principal of Langhojskolen. He emphasizes the importance of communication between teachers and students, because “Only if children are treated with respect and know that their problems will be taken seriously will they dare to talk to adults about them”remarks Mr. Wilhemsen, who insists: “Behind the harment, there are always adults who have not done enough. »

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