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Introduction - Project Background

Violence in schools has serious consequences such as stress, depression, distortion of identity, suicides and even school shootings. The project’s priority is the early prevention of violence in schools, especially violence committed against preschool aged (6-year-old) children. Research by Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Oulu and the research and experience of project partner institutions have underlined the need for a more holistic approach, nuanced tools, and education in order to tackle and prevent violence in and around schools.  

Previous interventions have focused on systematic school violence (bullying), and separately on violence occurring in families or leisure time, with no emphasis on gender and the focus being on middle childhood and adolescence. Specific problems of earlier interventions are:

  1. a lack of gender sensitive knowledge in issues of school violence locally, nationally, and internationally;
  2. a lack of preventive measures concerning subtle, normalized, non-systematic violence;
  3. a lack of holistic, community-based measures concerning school violence that build on systematic cooperation between teachers, parents, welfare personnel;
  4. a lack of projects concentrating on violence from the viewpoint of vulnerable groups, such as children with social, emotional or learning difficulties, disabilities, and ethnic minorities;
  5.  lack of projects focusing on preschool aged children (6-year-old children).  

In previous research and interventions of school violence and bullying it has been pointed out that best results have been gained with holistic, long-term approaches with emphasis on communality. Moreover, the whole community should be engaged in the aim of preventing violence. In short, the evaluation says that:  

  1. there is no quick fix method that can prevent bullying
  2.  for success in the anti-bullying work the schools need a whole school approach where all staff are aware of how to prevent violence, not only pedagogic staff but also the staff, for instance in the canteen and the porter, and that all share a common view
  3. the work also needs to be supported in the peer group and by the use of  a participatory approach
  4. there must be a general view of equality and equity, of all peoples' equal worth
  5. activities at school that promote good social relations in general are needed
  6. staff should be committed on break duty (supervising at breaks)
  7. there should be routines for following up bullying, both for the bully and for the victim.
  8. education for teachers regarding bullying is needed  

Furthermore, the work to prevent violence should be started as early as possible, already in kindergarten. Projects involving kindergartens and preschool have been carried out very seldom. The power hierarchies of a child group already start to take shape in kindergarten. Therefore, interventions as well as systematic learning of social and emotional skills should take place in preschool and daycare as well. Thus extinguishing the fire, interventions in bullying are needed less later.

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