“The reason we launched this centre is because bullying isn’t just a Swedish problem, but a global problem. That being said, we can all learn a lot from each other,” Lars Arrhenius, secretary general of anti-bullying group Friends, told The Local.
The centre, launched in collaboration with Stockholm University, will host international conferences for the training of teachers and other stakeholders on ways to prevent bullying. In addition, the centre will offer advice to preschools, schools and sports clubs throughout Sweden on bullying and safety issues.
“We wanted to create a meeting place where foreign researchers and workers can come together and share research from different countries,” Arrhenius said.
“If you compare Sweden internationally, we are rather good at stopping bullying. We have also started listening and cooperating together with Norway, the US, Namibia, and Botswana – a variety of countries. This centre will have the best knowledge and advice on how to prevent bullying.”
The launch of the centre is timely in Sweden after the country has been hit by several high profile cyber bullying cases, including Gothenburg teens who “slut shamed” fellow students on an Instagram account, and a 13-year-old girl who committed suicide after she was harassed and coerced by a 45-year-old man online.
The new centre will include a focus on cyber bullying, with Arrhenius explaining that lawmakers and police are constantly trying to keep up with evolving technology as bullies find new ways to torment their victims.
“An important aspect on combating cyber bullying is to engage not just those who work in schools but parents, as bullying is something that follows kids from school to home,” he told The Local.
Wednesday’s opening at Friends Arena, the new national sports arena which is named after the Swedish anti-bullying organization, was attended by Sweden’s Minister for Children and the Elderly Maria Larsson as well as Swedbank CEO Mikael Wolf.