Friends is an organization focused on sharing knowledge and has a interdisciplinary approach, as we are convinced that multiple disciplines can contribute to a better understanding of why bullying occurs.
Our approach and methods are founded on intervention research. By intervention research we mean research on effective measures for both prevention and intervention.
Friends doesn’t believe that one individual method suits every situation in every school, but rather that each school needs to develop its own practices and approach based on the specific needs and situation in that school. Friends’ role is to be a support in this process, helping to survey the current situation, develop a plan together with the teachers and pupils, and follow up and measure their effect.
In September 2014, Friends international Center against Bullying was inaugurated.In conjunction with this, Friends launched a five year research project together with the Department of Child and Youth Studies at Stockholm University that will be researching bullying amongst young people. In January 2015, Friends also embarked on a research project with the Department of Psychology at the University of Gothenburg, with the aim of developing effective ways of involving pupils in the work to combat bullying online. The results from the different collaborative research projects will provide an ongoing contribution to Friends’ method development. However, Friends’ methodology is based on much wider research than this.
For more research, detailed descriptions and references, as well as foundation in legislation and the curriculum, see Friends Foundation in Research and Governing Documents (in swedish).
Friends isn’t a specific model or method, but rather an educational organization that provides knowledge and support to schools, based on the conditions and situation in each specific school. Our way of working aims to support the school in creating a holistic approach where all school staff, parents and pupils are involved. This is often called a “whole school approach”, and entails using methodology and measures that are aimed at different levels and target groups at the school, in order to permeate every area of the school’s activities. By always beginning with a survey that analyzes the school’s needs, we let each school’s preconditions be the starting point and influence the focus of our work together.
The foundation of all Friends’ work is research, experience and the school’s governing documents, such as the curriculum and legislation. Through our various training courses we want to help schools to develop a systematic qualitative work based on the school’s basic principles, and include measures that deal with prevention, intervention and awareness, integrated into the everyday life of the school.
Pupil and Student Involvement
Research suggesting that pupils ought to be involved in the work to prevent and combat harassment and acts of intimidation is vast. First and foremost, it’s about ensuring that it’s the pupils themselves who are the starting point in the work to combat bullying. This means that the pupils should be involved in both the survey, the problem presentation, measures and the follow-up. At Friends, we know that many schools allow the pupils to be involved in coming up with suggestions on how the school can be made better, but at the same time feel that the adults have already decided what the problem is and that they seldom refer back to the pupils’ suggestions and input. The pupils need to be involved in the whole process, from preventative measures to awareness, and be encouraged to develop their ability to stand up against harassment and help one another.
All long-term collaboration begins with a survey of the situation in the school or sports club. This is because every environment is unique and preconditions for working with bullying differ. Conducting a survey is one of the most important steps in combating bullying, and both the Education Act and the Anti-Discrimination Act require that all preventative work should draw from a survey. A successful survey combines different methods such as questionnaires, interviews and observations, and allows the children and young people to expose, define and suggest solutions to the school’s challenges. The survey then provides a foundation for the ongoing work to prevent bullying, harassment and acts of intimidation in the school. Recurring surveys also function as an ongoing evaluation of the various efforts and measures that have been put in place, which is an important part of the systematic work.
There are some measures in the preventative work to combat bullying that have consistent support from all research on the subject. These are measures that Friends always wants to support schools in developing:
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