Final conference of the SAFER project Organized by the European Antibullying Network (EAN)



Athens, 4 April 2024


Final conference of the SAFER project

organized by the European Antibullying Network (EAN)


Whole School and Community Approach In Preventing Bullying and Cyberbullying



The final conference of the SociAl competences and FundamEntal Rights for preventing bullying-SAFER project, organized by the European Antibullying Network (EAN), took place on 13 March 2024 in Brussels on the topic of "Whole School and Community Approach In Preventing Bullying and Cyberbullying".


The one-day conference brought together over 60 teachers, students, representatives of institutions and organizations from 9 countries across Europe (Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Portugal and The Netherlands), marking the conclusion of the 3-year SAFER project (Erasmus+ Programme) and showcasing the important results that emanated from the project.


The conference began with welcoming addresses, through video, from two Members of the European Parliament, Mr. Massimiliano Smeriglio (Italy) and Mr. Stelios Kympouropoulos (Greece), respectively, who honored the event with their interventions. MEP M. Smeriglio stated “I believe we need to address the problem of bullying and cyberbullying within the education systems as education is the driving force behind the creation of public awareness, civic and ethical values. That is why we have been discussing within the CULT Committee a proposal for a report that we hope will come to light soon. It should stress the importance of early, formal, informal an non-formal education in the awareness of the phenomenon; it should harmonise academic curricula through the EU; propose actions that incorporate children and young people actively into the fight and have gender mainstream approach, as gender-based cyberbullying is a frequent form of violence; and it shall give clear recommendation to Member States ”. In turn, Mr. Stelios Kympouropoulos, who warmly thanked EAN for the invitation, noted that “The Whole School and Community Approach, in your project, frames the problem of bullying correctly. School is just an important node of a wider and complex network where the personality and behavior of a student is evolved. Family is another important node, while this network is completed by smaller nodes, such as the neighborhood, the church, and all the institutions that offer leisure, cultural or sport activities to children. I would like to congratulate you for that approach. All these nodes should cooperate and share a common responsibility for the prevention of bullying”.


EAN President, and President of EAN’s member in Greece ‘The Smile of the Child’, Mr. Costas Yannopoulos, then gave a short welcome address, during which he briefly presented the history, goals and actions of the European Antibullying Network (EAN), as well as its specific proposals for preventing and tackling this phenomenon. Mr. Yannopoulos emphasized the worrisome proportions of bullying, reflecting the steady increase rather than decrease of the phenomenon over the past decade, and the urgent need to bring everyone together, from all sectors and disciplines, across Europe in order to have a united, common approach. He noted that in Greece alone in 2022 as well as in 2023, 1 out of 3 children stated that they have suffered some form bullying. Mr. Yannopoulos made special reference to the European Anti-Bullying Certification (EANCERT), which is the result of the collective effort of social scientists from many European countries, members of EAn and EUROCERT, and which is an international innovation to tackle this complex phenomenon.


Prof. Sara Pabian from Tilburg University in The Netherlands, was the conference’s keynote speaker, and spoke about the long-term impact of being cyberbullied, as reflected in the findings of her research, a large study in Flanders engaging 1.000 young adults aged 18-25 who were invited to talk about their experiences with bullying between the age of 10 and 18. Prof. Pabian emphasized both the perceived impact on social interacting today, as well as the perceived impact on personal characteristics, noting among others avoiding past triggers/reasons for bullying, avoiding sharing personal information or avoiding coping with conflicts, aggression, and bullying, as well as the impact on friendships, self esteem, levels of anxiety, empathy and resilience


Following the addresses, the conference featured a series of presentations from the SAFER project partner organizations. EAN Vice President and SAFER Coordinator, Ms. Maria Rita Bracchini and the Director of the Foundation Hallgarten Franchetti, Centro Studi Villa Montesca, Italy, Mr. Fabrizio Boldrini provided an analysis of the SAFER project and its focus on the whole school and community approach to bullying and cyberbullying prevention. They explained that the purpose of the SAFER project was to develop and implement an innovative method for preventing school violence and bullying, aimed at fostering inclusive education and based on the enhancement of the acquisition of social and civic competences and on the knowledge, promotion and ownership of common positive values and fundamental rights, not only at the level of students and schools but also at the level of community.


Professor Stefano Taddei from Giunti Psychometrics, Italy presented on the risk factors and preventing bullying, resulting from a questionnaire, comprising 52 questions, 5 pictures and 2 cards that they developed for the SAFER project in order to understand the different situations and identify, on a scientific basis, possible educational paths to be taken. The questionnaire was delivered by the project partners in all project countries through an online platform, and it will continue to be used for at least 2 years following the end of the project in order to give continuity to the effects of SAFE and, on a local basis, to be able to carry out further surveys and compare data at a later date. The identified risk factors include peer group dynamics, group norms, online behavior, subjective perception of bullying and maladaptive behavior.


Ms. Mariachiara Gentile, member of EAN, spoke about the method of peer mediation as a measure to prevent bullying, emphasizing that dialogue between students can lead to a change in the school climate. Ms. Gentle presented the Invece di giudicare® educational and dissemination project on the culture of conflict mediation, implemented by Risorsa Cittadino soc. Coop, Italy, which consists of a set of procedures, approaches, techniques and tools for communities and schools, aiming to spread the culture of peaceful conflict management and raise awareness on peaceful approaches in solving conflicts among young people, with the participation of all the components of the school community.


Mr. Emmanouil Kartsonakis, Regional Director, and Ms. Areti Vouraki , Coordinator of European Programmes from the Regional Directorate of Primary and Secondary Education of Crete, Greece, presented their experience from the effective implementation of the Whole School and Community approach for the prevention of bullying and cyberbullying in schools in Greece, which brought practical results, and empathized the holistic perspective with the involvement of students, teachers and parents, as the most valuable element.


Ms. Antoaneta Vassileva, from the Parents Association- Association Roditelli, Bulgaria, also highlighted the crucial role of parents in the fight against bullying, while Mr. Nami Isaki from the Centre for Intercultural Dialogue, North Macedonia, spoke about the training materials developed in the course of the project and their importance in promoting interculturality.


In turn, Ms. Yiota Panagiotou and Ms. Christiana Stavrou from the Cyprus Observatory on School Violence (C.O.S.V.) of the Cyprus Pedagogical Institute (C.P.I.) presented on how the SAFER project and its deliverables can contribute catalytically to strengthening anti-bullying policy and eventually significantly reducing the phenomenon, while Prof. Luís Sérgio Vieira and Prof. Joana Vieira dos Santos from the University of Algarve, Portugal spoke about the project impact in socio-cognitive measures, based on the evaluation of the SAFER project model carried out, which demonstrated the effectiveness of the intervention in addressing bullying and promoting positive socioemotional outcomes, as well as the need for comprehensive strategies that consider multiple factors influencing student well-being and school climate.


Finally, EAN Ambassador Marc Van den Reeck made some concluding remarks on how important it is that in the framework of the SAFER project, the political world, academia, civil society and youth came together in recognizing the ever growing severity of the bullying phenomenon in our society, and in searching for ways and means to tackle this plague with urgency and in a dynamic and effective way, involving the entire, broader community. He also expressed the conviction that the SAFER project and its outcome constitute a stepping stone and a source of inspiration for policy making in the near future, both at European and at national level. In this perspective, the SAFER project also shows the way towards the conception of working methods and focused strategies with a direct and active role for the younger generation, primarily exposed to bullying as victims, perpetrators and by-standers.


Last but not least, following the presentations of the project partners, the concluding session of the conference was dedicated to presentations of students and teachers coming from the schools involved in SAFER project, who shared their personal experiences and testimonies on bullying incidents, as well as their actions and materials produced to speak up about the phenomenon, raise awareness and encourage others to speak up. These lively and creative testimonies from children coming from elementary through high school, as well as their teachers, conveyed a very realistic picture of the state of bullying in society and in the lives of children.


Following the testimonies, the Director of lead partner organization Centro Studi Villa Montesca, Italy, Mr. Boldrini announced the Students’ Voice Platform, a free space where students can share freely their own stories without being stigmatized. The aim is to render this platform an open space where all European students can write us about their experiences and cases in order to speak up about bullying.


The purpose of SAFER project -SociAl competences and FundamEntal Rights for preventing bullying- is to develop and implement an innovative method for preventing school violence and bullying, aimed at fostering inclusive education and based on the enhancement of the acquisition of social and civic competences and on the knowledge, promotion and ownership of common positive values and fundamental rights, not only at the level of students and schools but also at the level of community. More information here:

On the initiative of "The Smile of the Child", EAN was founded in 2014 and currently has 22 member organizations from 14 EU countries and is presided and coordinated by "The Smile of the Child". More about the European Antibullying Network - EAN:

More information:

European Antibullying Network/ EAN Press Office,


Photo Material here