Peter Gill emphasises that the strength of the Gävle model is that it contains several methods that according to research work in preventing school bullying, and the individual school can choose among them.
“This is really important as the problems may look completely different in different schools and the solution isn’t always the same. You can’t, as some traditional anti-bullying programmes claim, vaccinate against school bullying”.
Gävle has a unique understanding of the victimisation of children
Gävle Municipality has a unique understanding of children’s situation in school, as children’s victimisation is measured twice a year on classroom level.
“We have a response rate of 80 percent from all pupils in the comprehensive school years 4-9, twice a year for five years. So we know what the situation is like.”
By using exactly the same mapping method used for a national survey in which 10 000 pupils in Sweden participated, statistics from Gävle can be compared to the rest of Sweden.
“In Gävle Municipality, the percentage of pupils who were bullied was lower, and the difference is substantial: the prevalence of school bullying is 40 percent lower than in the rest of Sweden.”
The bully changes victims
One of the most important findings in the national survey, which had access to individual pupils’ personal identity number, was that six months later, the bullying looked more or less the same, around 8 – 9 percent among 10 000 pupils.
“However, 75-80 percent of those who responded that they were bullied in October were not bullied in April. This discovery is unique in the world,” Peter Gill continues. “This means that in a school system, many children are bullied, but they tend to be replaced with new children. Schools do take measures and the teachers are doing everything they can, so that 75-80 percent of the bullied pupils are not bullied a year later, but replaced with other children.”
“The bully doesn’t dare to go after victims who have been discovered, so then the bully chooses someone else. It is that simple. There are also misconceptions about bullies that they only do it because they are mean. The truth is that bullying can give the bully higher status in a group of friends.”