What we do
Groruddalen School in Oslo decided to fight bullying with a week of friendship.
Groruddalen School is located in an area of Oslo which has inhabitants with backgrounds from around 170 different countries. As one of the first five pioneer schools it took part in DEMBRA; a three year project by the EWC in cooperation with the The Center for Studies of the Holocaust and Religious Minorities and The University of Oslo. The project is based on the vision that to prepare and enable young people to live as democratic citizens in diverse societies is also to prevent racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination.
Few friends - greater risk
At the start of the project a survey was carried out among the students.
“The survey showed that the risk of being bullied was greater for those who had few friends or belonged to a class for kids with special needs. Belonging to an ethnic or religious minority, however, was not perceived as a reason for bullying. In fact, none of the students had negative views of other groups with the possible exception of beggars, Roma and Jews. But even here, the school had a better score than other schools”, Lise Fliflet-Jacobsen, deputy headmaster at Groruddalen said.
"We wanted to evolve simple concepts which could be applied continuously”
“On the basis of the Survey results, we decided to address the problems of prejudices and the use of language. Since we had planned a week of friendship in December we decided to incorporate these two topics throughout the week. At the same time we wanted to avoid making our participation in DEMBRA into a mere happening. We wanted to evolve simple concepts which could be applied continuously”.
What if it was me?
One of the exercises the students did was to make a thought map about themselves and then replacing some of the descriptions with the terms of abuse the survey had shown to be common at the school. The students then reflected on whether words really were harmless and what effect it has to use terms of abuse about each other. The students then went on to discuss what kind of school they wanted Groruddalen to be.
The students divided into groups where they carried out different projects. 25 students made short movies about prejudices and exclusion. The movies use images rather than language to get the message across. All the projects where presented at an open evening with students and their parents.
The DEMBRA project is aimed at school heads and teachers in lower secondary schools in Norway. DEMBRA is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. The program involves 5 schools each semester, 30 schools in total.