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THE CROWN PRINCESS OF DENMARK AND MIKKEL HANSEN TEAM UP AGAINST BULLYING

HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and handball player Mikkel Hansen today launched a new tool designed to strengthen the camaraderie and prevent bullying among junior handball players.

“Your name is Albert, your name is Matilde, your name is Mary, your name is Christian, and my name is Mikkel.”

The better you know your team-mates, the easier it is to fit in – which is why a name game is a good way to kick off a training session when there are new players on the handball team. 

At today’s training session at the Vestergadehallen sports centre in Silkeborg in East Jutland, the Crown Princess and Mikkel Hansen were the new faces on the court. Joined by coaches and nearly 60 U8–U10 players from Silkeborg IF Handball, the pair were on court to talk about and demonstrate training exercises from their new joint initiative against bullying in junior handball, called Antibulli. 

Antibulli consists of a mobile-friendly website with information, training exercises and activities that make it easy for junior team coaches to coach children in developing teamwork and community spirit alongside handball skills – and thereby help prevent bullying among 6 to 12-year-old players. 

The underlying philosophy is that a strong team spirit and positive relationships among children prevent exclusion and bullying – and the aim is to create a highly tolerant culture in which everyone respects, speaks nicely to and helps each other, so that the club feels like a pleasant place to be, regardless of how well you play handball.

The Crown Princess and Mikkel Hansen participated in three training exercises with the children and explained why it is important to also focus on bullying and well-being during sport and leisure activities:

We know from research that a significant percentage of children do not enjoy participating in sport and leisure activities. It’s unfortunate because all children benefit from leisure activities – socially, mentally and physically. If a child is being bullied or feels excluded from the team, he or she loses interest in actively taking part in the club and loses out on the rewarding social life that comes with it,” said the Crown Princess. 

Handball is about having fun and being part of a team, and bullying should never be allowed to stifle that. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand how important it is to get on well with your team-mates – both for the individual’s well-being and for the success of the team. A positive and inclusive team spirit makes playing handball fun – and it’s easier to get good if you enjoy it,” explained Mikkel Hansen. 

The Mary Foundation and MH24 – Foreningen Mikkel Mod Mobning  (Mikkel Against Bullying)  organised the event, which was followed from the sidelines by about 300 U8–U12 players from Silkeborg IF and their parents. Silkeborg IF Handball is one of the five sports clubs involved in the pilot programme that informed the development of the Antibulli initiative.

The website, which in practice functions as an app, is supplemented with a Facebook page designed to make parents in particular aware of their role in helping their child thrive in their leisure activities and how they can support a healthy and inclusive children’s community in their child’s handball club.

All the materials are free and can be adapted to the needs and resources of each club. Antibulli has been developed in collaboration with the Danish TrygFonden foundation and Save the Children Denmark. 

 

FACTS ABOUT ANTIBULLI

Antibulli combines experiences garnered from anti-bullying and well-being initiatives with experiences from the world of handball. The programme provides practical advice and includes exercises that can be incorporated into training activities for 6 to 12-year-olds.

The material comes at no cost and is easily accessible to everyone on antibulli.dk, where coaches can choose training exercises and activities that are appropriate for their particular team.

Antibulli recommends that the exercises and activities be incorporated into the existing training programme, so that the work on developing teamwork and camaraderie become a natural part of being a member of the handball club.

Via Facebook, Antibulli also addresses parents, who play an important role in helping to build a positive culture and strong team spirit.

The goals are:

  • Increase coaches’ awareness and knowledge of how to prevent bullying and inspire them to integrate activities and training exercises focusing on team spirit into their training.
  • Increase parents’ awareness of their role in making sure their child enjoys and benefits from leisure activities.
  • Engender a community ethos and pride in belonging to a club where “the team spirit always wins”. 

Evaluation suggests a high level of satisfaction 

This past autumn, Antibulli has been tested by U8-U12 teams and coaches in five pilot programmes in various parts of Denmark. 

The research institute Oxford Research has since conducted a satisfaction assessment, in December 2016, based on feedback from the pilot clubs’ coaches, parents and players.

The assessment indicates, among other things, that:

  • Antibulli.dk is a relevant and useful tool for coaches – both new and experienced. 
  • The coach needs to take the lead role when it comes to preventing bullying in the team/club – although players and parents are also important.
  • The format – a mobile-friendly website/app – works well, because it provides an overview and makes it easy to select and deselect training exercises.

Perspective on bullying

Antibulli is based on a perspective on bullying that defines it as a group phenomenon that involves and severely negatively affects not only the child or children being bullied but also the group of children as a whole. 

As such, preventing and finding solutions to bullying must involve working with the entire group of children – as opposed to only the bullies and victims.

Bullying struggles to take root in teams where positive values and a positive culture flourish. Antibulli is based on the values: tolerance, respect, care and courage. 

For more information, visit antibulli.dk (available in Danish only).

Facts about bullying and well-being in leisure activities

Although most children enjoy their leisure activities, not all of them automatically thrive when they are together in their spare time – and an unacceptably large proportion of them quit leisure activities altogether because they feel excluded.

Studies indicate that:

  • Two out of every ten children who participate in a sport or other leisure activity have experienced becoming upset due to teasing.
  • Three out of every ten children have experienced feeling excluded from their physical education classes.
  • One out of every eight children in grades 3–5 has stopped participating in any leisure activity due to bullying or a lack of enjoyment.

Children who do not enjoy sport and leisure activities can easily become and remain overlooked due to the voluntary nature of participating in these activities and the ease with which a child can decide to stop if he or she feels excluded.

Sources:

  • De bedste redskaber er mennesker, der er til stede (The best tools are people who are present), produced by the Danish Center for Ungdomsstudier (Centre for Youth Studies) in 2015 on behalf of The Mary Foundation, Save the Children Denmark, the Danish Football Association (DBU) and TrygFonden.
  • Study conducted by the Danish Center for Ungdomsstudier (Centre for Youth Studies) on behalf of The Mary Foundation and Save the Children Denmark, published in Børneliv, version 2.0 (The Life of A Child, Version 2.0), Ungdomsanalyse.nu, 2013.