Finnish anti-bullying programme in Dutch schools hugely successful

Since the introduction of the Finnish anti-bullying programme KiVa in Dutch primary schools, complaints of bullying have dropped by over 50 per cent.

This comes from an evaluation conducted by the University of Groningen of 10.000 pupils at 99 schools across the country.

KiVa programme

The main thrust of the Finnish programme is to heighten awareness among the whole class, not just the bully and the victim.

Real-life assignments targeted specifically made students think about what is bullying and what it means to be bullied.


The experiment with KiVa started with 66 special "KiVa schools" and a further 33 schools in a control group.

In the KiVa schools, the percentage of children who said they were being bullied every month or more often dropped from 29 per cent in spring 2012 to 13,5 per cent a year later.

The numbers also dropped in the control schools, but by much less.

The drop seen in the KiVA schools is the most dramatic among the worst cases of bullying: a 65 per cent decrease in the group of children that were bullied daily.

At the KiVa schools, students were also asked to mark their teachers for attention paid to bullying. Over the course of the year, that mark increased from 5,6 to 7,2 out of 10.

Children were also more positive about the attitude and efficacy of their teachers.


Researchers concluded from these results that KiVa is working in the Netherlands. "The reduction in bullying in the control group may have been due to the amount of attention paid to bullying by society in general over the last year," said sociologist René Veenstra, who conducted the research.

Despite the success, Veenstra thinks more work is needed. "If 13,5 per cent of these children still say they are bullied every month or more, you can’t just rest on your laurels."

Veenstra plans to use the data gathered in this evaluation to investigate when KiVa works best, so that the programme can become even more effective.


These results are important for the new anti-bullying policy drawn up by the government in conjunction with the Children’s Ombudsman.

Source: University of Groningen

Alexandra Gowling


Alexandra Gowling

Alexandra is an Australian citizen and an experienced expat, having spent (quite a bit of) time in Asia before coming to the Netherlands a year ago. She enjoys writing, reading...

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