Speaking out anonymously through UNICEF’S youth engagement tool U-Report, almost three-quarters of young people said they had been victims of cyberbullying. The respondents listed Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter, as the most common places for online bullying.
20 percent of the respondents said the bullying was so severe that it forced them to skip school.
More than 170-thousand people aged between 13 and 24 took part in the survey. The poll gathered data from more than 30 countries, including several sub-Saharan nations.
34 percent of respondents in sub-Saharan Africa said they had been a victim of online bullying. And some 39 percent said they knew about private online groups inside the school community, where children share information about peers for the purpose of bullying.
Researchers say the results challenge the notion that cyberbullying among classmates is something unique to wealthy nations.
“All over the world, young people in both high and low-income countries are telling us that they are being bullied online, that it is affecting their education, and that they want it to stop,” said UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore. “As we mark the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we must ensure children’s rights are at the forefront of digital safety and protection policies.”
However young people appear to be split on how to best deal with cyberbullying. According to the UNICEF poll, only 32 percent want some form of government action. 29 percent believe that internet companies and social media platforms should take more responsibility for policing the online world. The remaining respondents say it is up to young people themselves to stop online harassment of each other.
UNICEF and its global partners have outlined five major initiatives authorities should take in efforts to end cyberbullying and violence in and around schools. They include:
Implementing bullying and cyberbullying policies.
Establishing national helplines for children and young people.
Asking social media platforms to advance ethical standards and practices
Collecting better, disaggregated evidence about children and young people’s online behavior to inform policy and guidance.
Improving teacher and parent training to address cyberbullying and bullying, particularly for vulnerable groups.