Bullying on the agenda
On 19 March 2014, thirteen-year-old Odin committed suicide. Odin had been bullied at two different schools. When VG told his story, Norway was shocked, upset and engaged. The story put bullying on the agenda as a phenomenon and led to debates and investigations of the schools.
The day Odin died he came home from school at the usual time. He told his mother he was going to have a shower and ran upstairs to the bathroom. An hour later, when his mother was going to take the dog for a walk the silence puzzled her. She found the bathroom door locked and knew something was terribly wrong.
”I felt it, the paramedics have a machine that searches for heart activity, it makes this sound, and they had to turn it off. Then I knew.”
VG tells Odin’s story by talking to his family, documentation from the two schools, and through many emails that were sent between the schools and the family.
They tell a story that Odin knew well.
He often said: ”There’s no point speaking out because they do nothing about it anyway.”
Odin’s family even moved from Oslo to the little town Aurskog to get a change. But when the bullying started again, the second school also failed to put a stop to it.
”The school system doesn’t work when it comes to bullying. The fact that everyone has the right to a good school environment, both physical and mental, isn’t feasible the way it is to day”, says Odin’s mother.
When VG published the story, seven months after Odin’s death, Norway immediately responded. Even though the story is the longest ever to be published on vg.no, more than 100 000 people shared it and it was immensely commented and debated in social media.
One week later, thousands of Norwegians took to the streets in torchlight processions in several cities to speak out against children and young people being bullied. Both the Norwegian King and the Prime Minister also brought up bullying as a theme in their New Year speeches.
Odin’s story made the Norwegian nation – politicians, institutions and the public – ask themselves what went wrong, and how they could prevent it from happening again.
Actions were also taken; the schools where Odin attended are both under investigation.
But the main aim for VG to publish the story was not to look for guilt. It was to speak of children getting hurt in school. Odin’s story needed to be told. And Norway listened.