Cyberbullying: How ITU is countering the global trend

cyberbullying

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.

 ITU News / Lucy Spencer

3 comments

  1. The Internet has opened doorsfor many positive things such as education and global communication, but sadly, it’s also created another means for cruel individuals to bully and exploit others. The fact that the ITU is treating this as a serious issue only shows how epidemic cyberbullying has become. From what’s I’ve read in this article though, it seems the ITU only sees this as an issue with children and teenagers when this is an issue that affects adults as well, especially women. I think they need to address the affects of cyberbullying on adults and how this can affect careers and lives.

  2. Janna Jenkins · · Reply

    In the digital age we live in cyber bulling in an unfortunate reality for many online users. It is true that no one is safe from online bulling and it has become a major problem throughout the world. I wish I could say that I was shocked to hear about the incident that happened in Australia, but I am not. In the American college scene there is a Twitter account named “Old Row” that does the exact same thing. Though these girls were not underage, they were still unaware the explicit photos were even taken of them until they ended up on this Twitter account. I believe many of the girls reported the images as inappropriate to Twitter and filed lawsuits against the account. Though this account no longer post explicit pictures of unaware victims they are still an active twitter account that is popular among college students.

  3. Ciera Jenkins · · Reply

    Cyberbullying is very relevant in our day and age, “Cyberbullying can take many forms, including: abuse of a child’s personal information, photos and videos; harassment; cyber-stalking; and, unwanted ‘sexting’” Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles. It’s not really any proven ways that has been proven to stop cyberbullying because its still going on but it is certain steps us as adults can take to try to get to a solution, such as: tell your kids that as a responsible parent you may review their online communications if you think there is reason for concern. Installing parental control filtering software or monitoring programs are one option for monitoring your child’s online behavior, and also getting some reliable adult friends to keep an “extra eye” on your child’s social media.

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