Researchers from Bangor University have seen a 40% reduction in school bullying after introducing a programme from Finland called KiVa.
One in 10 secondary school pupils in Wales are bullied weekly and 35% have been targeted in the last two months, according to figures from the Schools Health Research Network.
Bullying is a threat to the positive development of children and causes anxiety, depression and social exclusion. Bullying also has a negative effect on schooling, including motivation and academic acheivemnet.
Kiva is an evidence based programme to prevent and tackle bullying, developed at the University of Turku, Finland.
After introducing the programme to 14 schools in Wales, researchers reported a 40% reduction in bullying, and 123 more schools registering on the scheme.
The scheme includes a child survey, school activities, lessons, online games, a website and a parents’ evening – and focuses on changing bullies and bystanders, rather than changing victims’ behaviour.
Allyson Whitticase, head teacher at Rhiw Bechan in Newtown, Powys, would like to see the programme rolled out across Wales.
“I feel passionately about mental health in children, we have an awful lot of children who are anxious these days,” she said.
“Later in life they will be able to recognise bullying, whether in workplace or in further education, they will have the strategies to know how to deal with that and hopefully that will protect their mental health and wellbeing.”
Prof Judy Hutchings, from Bangor University, said current anti-bullying policies did not change behaviour “because it was a piece of paper in somebody’s office” and may not have been developed based on evidence of what works.