KiVa Koulu ("KiVa") anti-bullying program

As in many other societies, bullying has been a big concern in Finland for several decades. For many years there was a persistent belief that the problem can be tackled by legislative changes (i.e., putting schools under the obligation of developing their own action plans against bullying), or by a commitment of school personnel to intervene immediately whenever they see bullying taking place (‘zero tolerance’). Based on what is known today, reducing bullying requires systematic, ongoing efforts at the level of individual children, classrooms, and the whole school. Moreover, school personnel need concrete tools for bullying prevention work with children and youth, just as they need clear guidelines to intervene when bullying is detected.

KiVa antibullying ("KiVa") -program is a multifaceted, research-based program that provides schools with concrete, easily adoptable tools to reduce bullying. The student lessons form the basis of the universal actions in KiVa. The lessons form a continuum lasting for the whole comprehensive education, with key issues taken up repeatedly in Grades 1, 4 and 7 in age-appropriate ways. The lessons also cover topics related to group interaction and respectful communication more widely. A special emphasis, however, is on how the students witnessing bullying can use their potential to reduce it. Indicated actions, on the other hand, refer to tackling the acute cases of bullying by the schools' KiVa teams, consisting of three adults working in the school.

KiVa-program has been evaluated first with a randomized controlled trial (2007-2009) and then during nationwide diffusion across schools (since 2009). KiVa-program has proven to be effective in reducing bullying and victimization and consequently, in internalizing problems. It also led to increases in well-being and school liking among a much wider group of children than just previous victims and bullies. The indicated actions, i.e. discussions between schools’ KiVa team members and children involved in bullying has proven to be highly effective.

The uptake of the program by Finnish schools has been remarkable, as 90% of all Finnish schools have implemented KiVa between 2009-2013. According to research at least 1900 schools are using KiVa actively (Sainio 2014). In order to prevent a decrease in implementation over time we have taken some new actions to support schools in their efforts. Such actions include newsletters sent to schools, online training about the KiVa program and its implementation, biannual KiVa conference days, quality recommendations provided to schools, regular monitoring of implementation. Besides this, the KiVa School of the Year is awarded every year.

Funding from the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture has enabled our group at the University of Turku to develop a comprehensive, research-based anti-bullying program which has already helped thousands of children and adolescents in our country. The strong theoretical and empirical base of KiVa led us to believe that it will work in other contexts outside of Finland as well. At the moment KiVa program has also been implemented in numerous countries in Europe and outside of Europe.


The project started in 2006 and is still running.
Last review: October 2017.


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