State officials have been battling bullying for decades, but now it’s once again on the rise. A new survey of students at all levels of Norwegian public schools shows an increase in the numbers of those subjected to bullying during the past three years.
“It’s scary,” high school student Sandra Lorenze Vestnes told state broadcaster NRK, which reported the results of the most recent survey conducted by the state education department (Utdanningsdirektoratet). “I thought those growing up now would be better off (than in earlier years, before bullying became a political issue). Maybe it’s just easier now.”
Vestnes, who lives in the northern city of Bodø, has experienced bullying (called mobbing in Norwegian) herself on social media and claims it’s even worse than the harassment that can occur in a school yard or on the way home. “More people can see it, and you can feel even more alone,” said Vestnes, who thinks some bullies/mobbers lost contact with social norms while isolated during the pandemic and last year’s lengthy teachers’ strike. “When you’re sitting at home alone, going through TikTok or communicating with people you don’t know, it can be easier to say or write ugly things.”
The annual survey had showed declines in bullying from 2016 to 2019 in the 7th and 10th grades, for example, but it rose from 2020 in both, and in responses from first-year high school (videregående) students. That’s also when teaching and socializing was forced online by the pandemic.