May 16, 2013


The KiVa anti-bullying program is a school-based curriculum designed to reduce bullying, victimization, and aiding bullying among 7 – 15 year old students.  The program includes 10 lessons administered by a classroom teacher throughout the school year accompanied by computer games and a virtual environment for learning.  An experimental evaluation of the program for grades 4 – 6 within 39 elementary schools in Finland demonstrated that the program was effective in reducing victimization and decreased assisting and reinforcing bullying.  The evaluation did not find significant impacts for defending the victim, anti-bullying attitudes, or empathy toward victims.


Target Population: Youth in the Finnish school system, Grades 1 – 9 (ages of 7 – 15)

KiVa is a whole-school anti-bullying program aimed at stopping on-going bullying, preventing new bully-victim relationships, and reducing the negative consequences of victimization.  The KiVa program includes a series of lessons delivered by classroom teachers 1st grade, again during grade 4, and for a third time during grade 7.  For grades 4 – 6, students receive 20 hours of instruction in 10 sessions over the course of a school year.  The lessons include discussion, group work, short films, and role-playing exercises.  Lessons are accompanied by anti-bullying computer games for grades 1 and 4 and an online environment for grade 7.  Within each school three teachers form the “KiVa team” and are tasked with addressing, along with classroom teachers, individual cases of bullying.  Teachers who are monitoring recess wear highly visible vests, and posters are hung around the school to promote the lessons taught in the KiVA curriculum.  Parents are given an information leaflet, shown a presentation on back-to-school nights, and directed to a website about bullying and the role of parents.  Before the program begins at a school, all staff members receive two days of face-to-face training or an online training packet about the program.  Newsletters are sent to KiVa schools four times per year and schools are provided with guidelines to monitor implementation.


Karna, A., Voeten, M., Little, T.D. Alanen, E., Poskiparta, E., & Salmivalli, C. (2011). A large-scale evaluation of the KiVa antibullying program: Grades 4-6. Child Development, 82(1), 311-330.

Evaluated population: This evaluation included students in 78 schools representing all five provinces of mainland Finland.  Special-education-only schools were excluded from the evaluation.  The target sample included 429 classrooms with a total of 8,237 students in Grades 3 – 5 (ages 9 – 11 years).  The intervention was received by 4,207 students in 39 different schools.  Ninety-eight percent of the respondents were white, with 2 percent described as “immigrant”/not Finnish; 50 percent of respondents were girls and 50 percent were boys.

Approach: Participating schools were recruited by letters sent in the fall of 2006 describing the KiVA project.  Letters were sent to all 3,418 schools in mainland Finland providing basic education.  The 275 schools that responded, volunteering to adopt the program, were stratified by province and language (Finnish-language or Swedish-language schools), and 78 of these schools were randomly assigned to intervention or control condition.  Special-education-only schools were excluded from the evaluation.  Thirty-nine schools (4,207 students) were assigned to the intervention with 39 schools (4,030 students) assigned to control conditions.  Within each school, parents were sent an information letter including a consent form; 92 percent of the target sample received active consent to participate.

Data were collected through Internet-based questionnaires in the schools’ computer labs during regular school hours three times throughout the school year: in May 2007 (Wave 1), December 2007 or January 2008 (Wave 2), and May 2008 (Wave 3).  The questionnaires collected demographic information as well as self-reported bullying and victimization, peer-reported roles in bullying situations (assessing specific classmates), anti-bullying attitudes, empathy towards victims, self-efficacy for defending behavior, and well-being at school.

Results: The intervention was effective in reducing victimization according to both self- and peer-reports, but the effect size was almost twice as large for peer-reports (0.33) compared with self-reports (0.17).  The intervention decreased assisting the bully (effect size=0.14) and reinforcing the bully (effect size=0.17).  For defending the victim, anti-bullying attitudes, and empathy towards victims, the significant impacts seen in Wave 2 decreased by Wave 3, becoming nonsignificant.  The KiVa program was therefore shown to significantly reduce victimization and aiding bullying among students in grades 4 – 6.  The researchers found that by Wave 3, the odds of being a victim of bullying for a control group student were 1.5-1.8 times higher than for a KiVa school student.  Similarly, the odds of being a bully at a control group school 1.2-1.3 times higher than at a KiVa school.

Sources for more information:


Karna, A., Voeten, M. Little, T.D., Alanen, E., Poskiparta, E., & Salmivallli, C. (2011b). Going to scale: A nonrandomized nationwide trial of the KiVa antibullying program for Grades 1-9. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 79, 796-805.



Children (3-11); Elementary; Males and Females (Co-ed); School-based; Parent/Family Component; Computer-based; Helping Behavior/Social Responsibility;Social skills/Life skills; Self-esteem/Self-concept; Bullying

Program information last updated on 5/16/13