FI: University of Turku


Turun Yliopisto, or the University of Turku (UTU) is an internationally acknowledged, multidisciplinary scientific university located on the Southwest coast of Finland, in the city of Turku. With over 21,000 students and 3,500 employees, it is one of the major universities in Finland. The Faculty of Social Sciences hosts three departments: The Department of Behavioural Sciences and Philosophy, the Department of Political Science and Contemporary History*, and the Department of Social Research. *The Peer Relations Research Group is in the Department of Behavioural Sciences and Philosophy. The group is led by professor Christina Salmivalli and it focuses on the peer relations of children and youth, especially aggressive behavior and peer-to-peer bullying in the school context. Research themes include the mechanisms of aggressive behaviors and exchanges at the individual, dyadic, classroom, and school levels. A major accomplishment during the past six years has been the development and evaluation of a national bullying prevention program, KiVa, which is currently being implemented in 90% of Finnish comprehensive schools. The most recent line of research consists of studies investigating the effects of the KiVa anti-bullying program, along with the mediators and moderators of these effects, utilizing Finnish samples collected during a large randomized controlled trial and during nationwide dissemination of the KiVa program. Further, evaluations of the KiVa program outside of Finland have recently begun (Delaware, Netherlands, Wales).

Christina Salmivalli, PhD, is a Professor of psychology at the University of Turku, Finland. She and her team have done school based research on bullying and its prevention for over 20 years. Prof Salmivalli is the principal investigator of the evaluation of KiVa antibullying program. The program received first prize in the European Crime Prevention Awards (2009) for increasing student safety and wellbeing and reducing the risk of being bullied, and several national awards in Finland (the Humanist Act of the Year, 2008; The Child Act of the Year, 2010, Campus Award, 2012). The latest evaluation study of KiVa received the 2012 Social Policy Award for best article in the SRA (Society for Research on Adolescence) conference in Vancouver this year. Salmivalli has published numerous widely cited research articles, reviews, book chapters and books on the topic of school bullying. Salmivalli has been leading several large-scale projects funded by the Academy of Finland and other funding organizations in Finland and at the European level. Recent relevant publications include:

  • Kärnä, A., Voeten, M., Little, T., Poskiparta, E., Kaljonen, A., & Salmivalli, C. ( 2011). A large-scale evaluation of the KiVa anti-bullying program: Grades 4-6. Child Development, 82, 311-330.
  • Salmivalli, C., Kärnä, A., & Poskiparta, E. (2011) Counteracting bullying in Finland: The KiVa program and its effects on different forms of being bullied. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 35, 405-411.
  • Kärnä, A., Voeten, M., Little, T., Alanen, E., Poskiparta, E., & Salmivalli, C. (2011). Going to Scale: A nonrandomized nationwide trial of the KiVa antibullying program for comprehensive schools. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 79, 796-805.
  • Smith, P.K., Salmivalli, C., & Cowie, H. (2012). Effectiveness of school-based programs to reduce bullying: A response. Journal of Experimental Criminology.

Silja Saarento, MA (Psych), currently works as a doctoral student in the Peer Relations Research Group in the Department of Behavioural Sciences and Philosophy, University of Turku. Her research focuses on the individual-, classroom-, and school-level risk factors for bullying and victimization as well as on the working mechanisms of the KiVa antibullying program at the multiple levels. In addition to research activities, Saarento’s work includes collaborating with and training teachers implementing the KiVa program. Publications include: 

  • Saarento, S., Kärnä, A., Hodges, E., & Salmivalli, C. (second revision submitted, August 2012). Student-, classroom-, and school-level risk factors for victimization. Journal of School Psychology.
  • Saarento, S., Boulton, A., & Salmivalli, C. (in preparation). Reducing bullying and victimization: Student- and classroom-level mechanisms of change.

Primary role in the project

UTU’s role in the project will be to be involved on the Steering Group in WP8, focussing on the creation of a Virtual Learning Environment. In addition, UTU will sit on the Advisory Board of the project, under WP1, and to maintain an overview of WP2 (dissemination), WP3 (Education and Training Research), WP6 (Quality Planning) and WP7 (Networking). In order to ensure this project is managed appropriately, UTU will support the Project Co-ordinator in their overall implementation, provide guidance on the virtual aspects of the project and ensure the partnership is performing as effectively as it could.


Matej Košir
Project Manager- SPAN
Science for Prevention Academic Network
Oxford Brookes University
Marston Campus
Oxford OX3 0FL
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Twitter: @span_eu