Don’t be Mean Behind the Screen

Cyberbullying- a form of harassment that in recent years has become increasingly common thanks to the advancements in technology and expansion of the digital sphere. This was the topic of the „Don’t be mean behind the screen” project which took place in Graz, Austria from September 11th to 18th.  The goal of this youth exchange was to help spread awareness about the dangers and negative effects of hate speech online and also analyse cyberbullying in order to combat it and help future victims in our local communities. 

Cyberbullying can affect a victims reputation for years to come. Harassment is a broad category under which many types of cyberbullying fall into, but it generally refers to a sustained and constant pattern of hurtful. Cyberbullies infiltrate their victims’ lives as often as they want will usually resort to spreading false or hurtful information, private messages and other online communications. Students are usually the main victims of online harassment. They may be bullied on their phones, computers and other devices through messages, comments, forum posts and pictures that may cause them emotional harm. Few parents and educators see cyberbullying in action due to the anonymity of the bullies who follow their target wherever they go, making  it difficult for victims to escape from their attacker. 

Cyberbullying sometimes causes kids to be excluded and ostracized at school. Consequently, they often feel alone and isolated. Like all forms of bullying, cyberbullying causes psychological, emotional and physical stress. The effects of cyberbullying also include mental health issues, increased stress and anxiety, depression, acting out violently, and low self-esteem. 

Cyberstalking is a particularly serious form of cyberbullying that can extend to threats of physical harm to the child being targeted. Trickery is similar to outing, with an added element of deception. In these situations, the bully will befriend their target and lull them into a false sense of security. 

Though many states don’t have specific laws that apply to cyberbullying, it’s a growing problem that has gained researcher’s attention. Thanks to that, we now have access to data on the true dangers of cyberbullying. The country with the highest rate of cyber bullying awareness was Sweden, with 91 percent of respondents reporting that they knew about cyber bullying. According to Ipsos, 75 percent of global respondents were aware of cyber bullying. The highest rate of cyber victimization was found in Romania (37.3%) and the lowest in Spain (13.3%). The top 3 countries where cyberbullying is the most prevalent are India, Brazil, and the United States, but it is a common occurrence everywhere.

Even though prevention of online harassment cannot be 100% effective, parents and educators should be cautious about young peoples access to phones, computers and social media access and educate them on the importance of online security. Remind teenagers to be cautious about their personal data and encourage them to stand up to victims affected by harassment by reporting any bully they may witness. While it’s important to respect children’s privacy, it’s just as important to make sure that young people are not being victimized online.

If one is a subject of cyberbullying, the victim should delete certain apps or get off social media in order to give themselves time to recover. To anyone who has ever been bullied, remember that you are not alone. Cyberbullying is a newer and much more dangerous form of harassment than normal bullying, so it is more difficult to combat. However, social media platforms provide different kinds of tools that allow you to block or restrict anyone’s access to your account information. Many countries have a special helpline you can call for free anonymously. 

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