Bullying between Adolescents Reduced after Kiva Antibullying Program: Netiquette and Mental Health Support Needed in Interventions


Bullying experienced by 13–16-year-old pupils reduced clearly when schools invested in antibullying interventions. Researchers suggest that rooting out cyberbullying has to be more effective and new methods for supporting and strengthening the mental well-being of bullied adolescents have to be introduced. The study published by the Research Centre for Child Psychiatry of the University of Turku was based on reports from Finnish adolescents in 2008 and 2014.

Bullying has reduced among both girls and especially boys when compared with the situation in the last decade. In the first survey conducted in 2008, 30.5 percent of the adolescents said they had been bullied, when in 2014 only 20.6 percent of the respondents had experienced bullying.

Interventions into bullying by teachers and fellow students increased between 2008 and 2014.

– The schools that participated in the study implemented the Kiva Antibullying Program in the period between the surveys. On the basis of the results, it seems that the Program has significantly reduced bullying, says main author, Researcher Elina Tiiri from the Research Centre for Child Psychiatry of the University of Turku.

– Furthermore, the decrease in bullying might also have been affected by the increased awareness of its harmfulness, estimates Tiiri.
On the basis of the results, there was no change in the amount of cyberbullying. According to Tiiri, it is important to enhance prevention and intervention in cyberbullying.

Bullying Can Cause Mental Health Problems

The researchers discovered that the adolescents who were bullied had more symptoms of mental health problems than their peers. Most symptoms were reported by adolescents who are bullied both at school and online.

– As bullying is a significant risk factor for mental health, the interventions should also include actions that support mental health, emphasises Tiiri.

The primary investigator, Professor of Child Psychiatry Andre Sourander says the results are significant.

– Adolescents with mental health issues are more easily bullied and bullying also predisposes to mental health problems. This is important information to consider when developing well-being at schools and interventions against bullying.

According to Professor Sourander, schools should prevent bullying with methods proven effective by research. The latest results support the earlier research on the effectiveness of the Kiva Antibullying Program.  

Approximately 2,000 adolescents between the ages of 13 and 16 from the lower secondary schools of two very typical Finnish cities participated in the study on both years.
The study was funded by the Academy of Finland and it is part of the Inequalities, Interventions, and New Welfare State (INVEST) consortium.

The article was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. The publication is available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2019.03.023

More information:

Researcher Elina Tiiri, Turun yliopisto, elina.tiiri@utu.fi 

Professor Andre Sourander, Turun yliopisto, andsou@utu.fi

Created 20.08.2019 | Updated 20.08.2019