Multidisciplinary network cooperation and bullying – case study of an anti-bullying project run by the Children of the Station
School is one of the most central social operational environments for children and young people. A great deal of interaction which has a positive impact on young people’s development takes place at school, but there are also cases of bullying and even violence. In 2017, the youth organisation the Children of the Station launched the K-0 project, which aims to tackle bullying in schools. The project has been dealing with cases of long-term bullying in comprehensive schools in the Helsinki area, which have been reported to the police or where the assistance of the police has been requested.
In the project, the Children of the Station have made use of methods which have previously been successful when intervening in criminal or violent behaviour among young people, as well as experiences from previous cooperation with the police and the mediation office. Other partners of the project include the Education Division, youth services, and the social and health care authorities of the City of Helsinki. The aim has been to support the safety and well-being of the entire school community, as well as offering tailored support to all parties involved. Another aim of the project has been to develop tools for professionals and the activities of the networks in order to reduce bullying.
This book is a report on the study carried out on the K-0 project, with the aim of highlighting cases of bullying, their backgrounds and different perspectives on how the cases should be resolved and how the work to prevent bullying should be improved. The study has been carried out using action research and case study methods. As part of the study, two of the K-0 project’s bullying cases have been chosen for closer observation. The source material consists of interview and observation data collected in the field. As part of the study, interviews were carried out with four representatives of the school, three youth workers, two police officers, two project workers, two parents and one young person. In addition to the interviews, the researcher also took part in the project’s interest group meetings and negotiations relating to the bullying cases. The researcher also had access to the reports relating to the bullying cases in 2017 written by the project workers of the K-0 project.
A closer scrutiny of the cases reveals the parties relating to the bullying cases and helps the reader to understand how the situations were able to escalate. The cases are used to illustrate the school’s regular practices, the different parties’ stories of what took place, and the participation and methods of the K-0 project. The research material opens up a new perspective into the complex reality of bullying and the contradictory experiences and interpretations. The views that different parties have of the nature and background of the situation can be very different, which also makes it impossible to agree on a solution. Resolving the cases is also made more difficult by a lack of trust between the home and the school.
The study shows that multidisciplinary cooperation and support from outside the school is required when dealing with cases of long-term bullying. The authorities do not have a consistent way of dealing with serious cases of bullying or any guidelines on who is responsible for resolving cases of school violence, particularly when it involves children under the age of 15. By developing the cooperation between the school welfare group, teachers, the police, child protection services, youth work and the families, the challenges highlighted by the study can be faced and serious cases of bullying can be resolved in a more constructive manner.
Keywords: bullying, violence, networks, children, young people, youth research, case study