The Ombudsman for Children’s report on children’s bullying experiences ‘Bullying in loneliness’

Why bullied and where?

Most children are bullied because of their appearance, dress, or behavior. It is striking that almost 1/3 of children are bullied for reasons that are actually discrimination. For girls and children who define themselves as ‘different’, this is primarily due to their sexual orientation and / or gender identity. For boys, it is mainly due to a disability. It is also worrying that about 15% of bullied children give their lives an unsatisfactory level. It is primarily children who are being bullied in several places and who do not talk about it with anyone. Bullying happens not only in school, but also in the neighborhood, online, in the sports club and even at home.

Children’s Ombudsman Margrite Kalverboer: ‘I am worried about all the children who give their lives an unsatisfactory touch because they feel so lonely because they are being bullied. We can certainly do something about that. We need to talk more about bullying, take bullying seriously and give children more space and support to leave them as they are. ‘

Inadequate adult action and responsibility

Talking about bullying is important, because only then can help be offered. Parents and teachers are the most important people for children to turn to when they are being bullied. But they can not solve it alone. Children are also being bullied in the neighborhood and online. There is not always an adult that children can turn to if they are being bullied. In the perception of children, adults sometimes also participate in bullying. By making bullying less important or making fun of it.

Bullying requires a broad overall approach

Children’s ideas are in line with previous research into an effective approach to bullying: teachers who correct bullying behavior reduce bullying, and that children are more likely to tell the teacher about bullying when it occurs. In theory, empathy development and learning to deal with diversity are important elements that are still largely lacking in the various efforts against bullying. What is also needed is that bullying outside of school (in the neighborhood, online, in sports clubs, etc.) is recognized and that there is an approach that connects the different programs and approaches. In this way, the broad overall approach needed to combat bullying can be created.

The purpose of the study

The Children’s Ombudsman started the investigation in the Week Against Bullying in 2021. The opening of the investigation has provoked many reactions. Not only from children who filled out the questionnaire, but also from adults who are still suffering from their past bullying experiences. It is well known that the impact of bullying is significant. The Ombudsman for Children therefore wanted to give children a voice in relation to tackling bullying: How do they experience bullying and what solutions do they see? The reports to the Children’s Ombudsman also gave rise to consideration of the relationship between bullying and discrimination. In addition, the research extends to all children’s living environments.

Main recommendations

The Ombudsman for Children believes it is important that there is a broad overall approach to bullying, where bullying and discrimination are taken together, and which views more broadly than just tackling bullying in school. Because the topic touches on children’s different living environments, the report contains a lot of information and recommendations for different parties. For example, ministries, municipalities, science and knowledge centers within bullying are asked to commit to influencing the approach to bullying also outside school. There are also recommendations for professionals who work with children, such as teachers, sports coaches, youth workers, local police officers and the training courses for these types of professions / functions. It is sometimes difficult for them to recognize bullying and discrimination and make it a topic of discussion. They need tools for this, so that children also more easily dare to discuss bullying.

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