August 22, 2016

Cyberbullying: How ITU is countering the global trend

By Lucy Spencer-

Cyberbullying is a growing global trend. Most recently, Australian police have begun investigating reports that thousands non-consensual explicit images of underage schoolgirls have been uploaded to a website by their male peers.

Widespread cyberbullying on Twitter also led to unfounded rumors that the platform would shut down in 2017. (Several international figures, including international celebrities and Olympians, have been victims of online harassment on Twitter.) Other social platforms are working to curb this growing trend.

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying can take many forms, including: abuse of a child’s personal information, photos and videos; harassment; cyber-stalking; and, unwanted ‘sexting’.

A Cyberbullying Research Center study shows that one out of four teenagers has experienced cyberbullying at some point in their lifetimes, and roughly one in six teenagers has done it to others. In a new report by Kaspersky Lab and iconkids & youth, six in ten of the children surveyed said they worry about cyber-bullying, and 16% said that cyberbullying was a bigger concern than real-life bullying.

“Cyberbullying is one of the most dangerous things that can confront a child on the internet because it can have a negative impact on their psyche and cause problems for the rest of their lives,” Andrei Mochola, head of Consumer Business at Kaspersky Lab, told Gulf News.

As a result of cyberbullying, children can suffer from a lower self-esteem, their performance in school deteriorates, and it can cause depression. Victims of bullying are also twice as likely to commit suicide as non-bullied peers, and 1 in 10 cyber-bullied teenagers attempt it.

Global response

ITU has partnered with several organizations to help prevent cyberbullying.

Operation Uncool, a joint initiative by ITU and RErights, is an online consultation with young people that aims to channel their opinions and concerns to relevant stakeholders so they can reflect young people’s needs in policymaking.

In May 2016, ITU and Child Helpline International launched a joint campaign, Partnering to Protect Children and Youth, to showcase how ITU’s membership and other key stakeholders can help strengthen the work of child helplines.

Guided by ITU, Kenya’s Communication Authority recently launched a child online protection (COP) campaign dubbed Be The COP which aims to inform the general public about safe internet use “in order to minimize exposure to risks and vulnerabilities that the children face in cyberspace,” Ngene Gituku, Communication Authority Board Chairman, said.

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ITU is the United Nations' specialized agency for information and communication technology. Any opinions expressed and statistics presented by third parties do not necessarily reflect the views of ITU.

Cyberbullying: How ITU is countering the global trend

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