Movement Against Bullying: From negative classroom atmosphere to joyful fellowships in public schools

In Danish

Hanna Christensen, Sidse Nikoline Stavad & Helle Winther
Institut for Idræt og Ernæring, Københavns Universitet


The individual is a social being, and has a need to participate in communities that inspire confidence and recognition. Anxiety about being excluded from a school class may result in inappropriate actions. Social survival in a classroom with an especially high level of social exclusion anxiety may play out in many different ways, for example as bullying.

Bullying is a serious problem which may have physical, psychological and social consequences for school children. During the last decade there has been increased focus on combating bullying in public schools, but many anti-bullying strategies use primarily verbal means. Alternatives for using movement as an anti-bullying strategy are also quietly gaining ground. In practice this is still a new and relatively little-known area, even though research indicates that movement, play and dance may both strengthen feelings of fellowship among children and youth, and benefit their personal development.

The basis for this article is a small study done in a 6th grade class in a public school in Copenhagen. The article focuses on the potential that play, dance, and movement have in relation to preventing bullying in a public school class. There is specific focus on fellowship, presence, bodily contact and trust. In spite of the article being based on a small study, it shows that shared moments of movement may open up for trust, common rhythms and new relationships. It also shows that movement which is based on a wholeness-oriented view of the body may have the potential for change, and an including effect on a negative class atmosphere characterized by restlessness, mistrust and anxiety about social exclusion. Thus the article opens up for a new direction and an area in which relatively little research has been done, calling for more development and research, as well as for a more direct effort in the public schools.


Get the full-text article in Danish


HANNA CHRISTENSEN and SIDSE NIKOLINE STAVAD hold a Master’s degree in Humanities and Social Sport Science from University of Copenhagen. They both are employed as project managers in the sports organisation DGI with different projects in the area of sports communities and improvement of physical, mental and social health among the population. Hanna and Sidse share an interest for how exercise, movement and games aid in fostering relations, social wellbeing and stronger sports communities.

HELLE WINTHER is Associate Professor, Ph.D. in dance and movement psychology at the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, University of Copenhagen. She is also a trained body and dance psychotherapist. Helle is the coordinator for the research strategy “Embodiment, Learning and Social Change”. She is furthermore leader of the studies of dance, movement teaching and movement psychology. She works with the existential and inclusive elements in dance, play, and bodywork for many groups. Her research and teaching is focused on dance and movement pedagogy, dance therapy, movement psychology, and the language of the body in professional practice. Helle has published six books and numerous research articles about her work. Her work is portrayed in Danish TV (DR1, DR2, TV2) and in radio portraits. She has received three teaching prizes at the University of Copenhagen.


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