Good morning and welcome to the first international ‘Free of Bullying’ seminar.
We are gathered here today, many nationalities, because we have a common commitment – to prevent bullying. We at the Mary Foundation and Save the Children Denmark are so pleased, that it has been possible to bring so many together, from; Greenland, Estonia, Iceland, Lithuania and the Faroe Islands. The next couple of days are all about exchanging knowledge and experience, sharing insights and learnings so, we can develop an even more effective version of ‘Free of Bullying’.
Later today you will have the opportunity to see Free of Bullying in action in a pre-school here in Copenhagen. Free of Bullying is a flexible program that allows us to adapt it to our local language, culture, day-care and school systems, teaching methods and so on. We all have different ways of working with the material and I’m sure that you will be inspired by hearing about these different methods. I certainly was when I saw the program in action in Greenland and Estonia.
Bullying is a universal challenge and as we all know, can have severe consequences for a child and their future, whether he or she grows up in Tallinn, Torshavn or Copenhagen. Systematic exclusion is a serious problem, and serious problems require well thought out solutions and serious action.
Free of Bullying is a well thought out initiative that can form part of a holistic solution. Free of Bullying is about prevention, based on the view that bullying involves the whole group. Interventions are made early in a childs’ development and schooling and aim to create strong, harmonious classes and groups that are more resilient to bullying. Children that are part of the Free of Bullying program learn the basic fundamental values of tolerance, respect, care and courage. They learn what it means to be a good friend. They are given the courage to react if the feel that they or others are being badly treated. In other words; in a strong value-based group the children’s community spirit is strengthened and there exists no tolerance for bullying.
You are all at different stages in your work with Free of Bullying – some of you have several years of experience, and others are just starting out. Regardless of how far you are in the process, we at Save the Children Denmark and the Mary Foundation are here to support you in your work. In order to do that more effectively we have established an International ‘Free of Bullying’ Competence Centre. You can use this centre to access knowledge about best practices and international research and to be inspired by others’ work with Free of Bullying. And that is exactly what we plan to do during the next couple of days.
All people need to feel like they belong and our social relationships have a strong impact on our well-being. Children need a safe and secure environment where they can thrive, where they can concentrate on learning and where they can feel like an accepted and valuable part of a group.
Thank you again for being here today. And please use this opportunity to ask as many questions as possible and to get to know each other. I would also like to thank our Free of Bullying instructors and leading experts in the field of bullying, who are with us this morning for being here.
I hope that you will find this seminar interesting and inspiring and that it can further your work in the prevention of bullying. An environment that is open and accepting gives place for the individual to thrive – such an environment allows children to be who they are meant to be – themselves.