Anti-bullying app “Patyčių dėžutė“ and e-learning platform REAGUOK.LT
Bullying is one of the main social challenges in Lithuania with about 30% of children becoming victims of bullying few times a week. Most of them don’t report the incidents while school officials often can’t recognize and effectively provide help for both victims and bullies. “Patyčių dėžutė” is a mobile app which allows children to anonymously report bullying accidents, while REAGUOK.LT is a e-learning platform for teachers with all the relevant information about how to respond to bullying.
One of the main and most pressing issues in the modern society is bullying at schools. According to research done by the World Health Organization in 2016, children in Lithuania's schools experience 2-3 instances of bullying every month. Widely considered one of today's biggest problems, bullying has been proven to cause significant harm to developing minds.
Recording bullying incidents accurately and efficiently in most of the schools is still a huge problem in Lithuania. Students are often afraid to be labelled a ‘snitch’ or don’t want their parents to know about school problems. There are teachers who do not handle their responsibilities well and never record bullying incidents or just don’t know how to intervene the bullied person. Therefore many Lithuanian schools do not record any cases of bullying per year.
“Patyčių dėžutė“ is a platform, designed to allow students, their parents and teachers to safely and anonymously report acts of bullying. The platform is made up of easy to use website and a mobile app, as well as a management system, which can be downloaded and installed free of charge by all motivated schools across the country. The platform gives a chance to report about student himself/herself or about classmate, friend, teacher or any other member of his/her school community who suffers from bullying or is a bully. It is also possible to attach a screenshot of the cyberbullying to the report.
Following the successful completion of the pilot project, it was decided to expand the idea of developing effective anti-bullying practice and to create free online anti-bullying training „REAGUOK.LT“ for teachers and other professionals that work with children and young people. All school staff should be aware of how to respond to reports of bullying and, where needed, support and appropriate intervention should be available.
Currently, only schools that participate in bullying prevention programs (Olweus program - 470 schools, Friends program - 20 schools) have been trained to provide support and help to stop bullying, so more than half of Lithuanian teachers are untrained and lack of important knowledge. Furthermore, this type of training is very expensive and requires commitment to a time and place.
The online training “REAGUOK.LT” has been developed as part of “Patyčių dėžutė” platform, which aims to empower teachers to get more in-depth knowledge and to influence change around the issue of bullying. Online training modules include: What is bullying; Bullying and the Law; Cyberbullying; Recording and reporting incidents; Homophobic bullying; Responding to bullying and etc. It also includes Q&A section, video lessons, further reading, contacts map, 30 – 60 minute lesson plans, advice and information to enable participants to fully understand the issue and deal with bullying. Once all the modules and the main general test have been completed, participants will be presented with a Certificate of Achievement. This training course is approved by Vilnius University, and each module counts towards participants continuing professional development.
“Patyčių dėžutė“ platform together with “REAGUOK.LT“ online learning course created a more convenient way to report and respond to bullying and invited all motivated Lithuanian schools to join the initiative.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
The innovation underpinning “Patyčių dėžutė” and REAGUOK.LT is that it provides digital solution and cultural change at Lithuanian schools. It allows students, parents and teachers to safely and anonymously report acts of bullying using easy to use website and a mobile app, as well as provides a management system for schools, which can be downloaded and installed free of charge. Moreover, e-learning platform empowers teachers to get more in-depth knowledge around the issue of bullying and does not require commitment to a time or place and is also free of charge.
Previous solutions have focused mainly on increasing access to bullying prevention programs and these efforts have been not always successful due to insufficient funds, consistency or intensity.
“Patyčių dėžutė“ together with REAGUOK.LT e-learning course created a more convenient way to report bullying cases and increase the likelihood of receiving help, especially for those students, who are marginalized and vulnerable.
What is the current status of your innovation?
After successful completion of both projects pilot, Ministry of Education, Science and Sport is expanding the project and inviting all motivated Lithuanian schools to join the initiative. Ministry aims to have half of schools participating in the program by the end of the year, and encourages all the education communities to attend related presentations, group discussions and Q&A sessions.
Internally, the team is currently working with local IT company, upgrading manual guide for users, planning video and social media campaign. To date, more than 100 Lithuanian schools have joined the “Patyčių dėžutė” initiative and more than 400 teachers joined e-learning platform.
Collaborations & Partnerships
Ministry of Education, Science and Sport – securing implementation process and developing a plan to identify the priorities and responsible people to continue the initiatives.
NGO “Child Line” – research and methodological support.
Schools administrators, teachers, school psychologists, parents and other members of the community – reflecting on the quality of the projects in order to identify school’s needs.
And most importantly, students – key players behind both projects.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
The development of both projects involved extensive consultations with more than 15 stakeholders, including public and private sector organizations, NGOs, teachers, pupils and local authorities. They were asked to give the feedback on the content and the form of the online platform and were offered to collaborate and bring new ideas.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
To measure impact more systematically public consultations were carried out, including 5 focus groups with teachers, 15 interviews with anti-bullying experts, 2 student surveys.
During the pilot study more than 1000 students tested “Patyčių dėžutė” platform for 3 months and schools received 89 bullying reports.
To date, more than 100 Lithuanian schools have joined the “Patyčių dėžutė” initiative and more than 400 teachers joined e-learning platform.
The online platform “Patyčių dėžutė“ as well as training “REAGUOK.LT” were evaluated both by experts and teachers and students. They were asked to give the feedback on the content and the form – groups evaluated the platforms very well, saying they were useful and easy to navigate. Many of the conclusions and recommendations of the education communities have been incorporated into the both projects and it is still very important to consider each of their needs when gathering support for the projects.
Challenges and Failures
First of all, the main challenge was to meet the expectations of all groups and decide on the scope what is both possible to achieve and met the needs of all stakeholders. It was quite challenging to exhibit the “big picture” of the projects and to prove positive outcomes, knowing that everything needs to be done throughout one year. Plans and visions of most of the groups were different and sometimes even impossible to achieve during the project implementation period.
Secondly, some stakeholders have been quite skeptical of “Patyčių dėžutė“ at first, but several discussions and successful three-month pilot study, when as many as 90 reports of bullying and other misconduct were received, made it more convincing.
Thirdly, one of the key challenges was finding a sustainable funding source for the project, as some of the key stakeholders have met the initiative with resistance.
Conditions for Success
1. Leadership and guidance from senior levels, including support from the highest levels of office in the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport and the goodwill of experts across Lithuania.
2. Personal values and motivation, because we were always committed to finishing both of the projects and to give students and teachers a chance to increase the effectiveness of interventions taken to stop future cases of bullying. All the tasks to reach every milestone were documented, including the deadline and the person in charge for every single task. The milestones with the deadlines were published on the public project website, and the tasks with all the information were documented and controlled using work management tool. Moreover, we were able to find various partnerships with parties that did not work according to traditional framework, but were very significant to our projects.
The low cost and relatively simple technology of “Patyčių dėžutė” can be implemented by schools of any size. It can be also used within different youth gathering organisations, promoting young people's participation in reducing bullying. This tool can be completely replicable in similar institutions, such as universities, professional schools, public or private sector bodies. Despite this, candidate organisation needs to have specially designated people responsible for solving bullying or mobbing cases, making sure, that all responses to reports, regardless of their nature, are responsible and quick.
E-learning platform "REAGUOK.LT" can be used across different sectors for various types of projects or organisations, for example, youth workers, pre-school teachers, social pedagogues or NGO professionals.
In the longer term, all the organizations having issues and dealing with bullying can benefit from those initiatives and should consider having them without doubting.
1. Public sector is often perceived as resisting change. Changing culture and behaviours in the public sector takes time and it might be a very long process. It is crucial to work trying to change this attitude by showing alternative approaches within the public sector.
2. Planning is the most important thing – detailed, suitable for all stakeholders, team-involved, and opportunity to change the plan or to reflect the possible changes. It is important to keep attention on project deadlines, especially when creating online solutions, such as virtual learning course and depending on other players, such as cameraman, animator or cheap IT company.
3. It is highly important to keep the constant communication with different stakeholders. This allows to create a useful community of institutions interested in implementation of similar initiatives in the future.
4. With the right help and support change can be possible in any sector. It is important to establish a shared vision about a problem within the community, its impact, and how to stop it, also identifying right people to target and raise awareness.