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Chancellor of Justice invites schools to fight bullying

The Office of the Chancellor of Justice and the Estonian Union for Child Welfare are organising the conference entitled “Bullying-free Education” that will be held on 2 April and opened by Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, who will be visiting Estonia at the time.

Studies indicate that 22% of Estonian pupils have repeatedly experienced bullying at school. These indicators are considerably smaller in the Nordic countries, largely due to systematic information work and effective anti-bullying campaigns that preschools and schools in the region have been using for many years. People in Estonia have started giving more attention to the prevention of bullying and resolution of cases of bullying, and several preschools and schools have joined anti-bullying programmes. One of these is the “Bullying-free Preschool and School” programme, which started in the Kingdom of Denmark, has Crown Princess Mary as its patron and is managed by the Union for Child Welfare in Estonia. The Kiusamise Vastu foundation has brought the Finnish evidence-based and internationally successful programme “Bullying-free School” or KiVa to Estonia. Twenty Estonian schools will take part in the pilot project during this study year.

Chancellor of Justice Indrek Teder says that anti-bullying programmes and prevention have started well in Estonian preschools, but dealing with this topic systematically is not as common in schools. In order to introduce the existing anti-bullying programmes and materials for the creation of a bullying-free study environment to Estonian school principals and to help them meet with practitioners, the Office of the Chancellor of Justice and the Union for Child Welfare are organising the “Bullying-free Education” conference.

Kristi Paron, Adviser with the Children’s Rights Department of the Office of the Chancellor of Justice and the leader of the conference, said that recognised international and Estonian experts have been invited to speak at the event. “The main speaker will be Christina Salmivalli, Professor of Psychology at the University of Turku, who devised the KiVa anti-bullying programme, which started in Finland in 2006 and is now used in many European countries,” she explained. Lars Stilling Netteberg, an expert from Save Children Denmark, will speak about the methodology of the Danish project “Free from Bullying”. Professor Margit Sutrop from the Centre for Ethics of the University of Tartu, Sirje Piht from Tallinn University and Kristiina Treial from the University of Tartu will also speak at the conference. The heads of the schools and preschools that took part in the programmes will speak about their experience at the end of the conference.

The Ombudsman for Children protects the rights of children and young people in communication with people and authorities that perform public duties. Estonia acquired an Ombudsman for Children on 19 March 2011 when the tasks of protecting and promoting the rights of children were assigned to the Chancellor of Justice.

The Estonian Union for Child Welfare is an association that helps guarantee the rights of children and create a child-friendly society.