Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A new report by the UN Agency for children, UNICEF has shown that one in three young people in 30 countries have been a victim of online bullying, with one in five reporting having skipped school due to cyber bullying and violence.
The findings are indicated in a new poll released on Thursday by UNICEF and the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on violence against Children.
Speaking out anonymously through the youth engagement tool UN report, almost three-quarters of young people also said social networks, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter, are the most common places for online bullying.
“Connected classrooms mean school no longer ends once a student leaves class, and, unfortunately, neither does schoolyard bullying,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “Improving young people’s education experience means accounting for the environment they encounter online as well as offline.”
Through the poll, young people were asked via SMS and instant messaging technology a series of questions relating to their experiences of online bullying and violence, where it most frequently happens, and who they think is responsible for ending it.
Some 32 per cent of those polled believe governments should be responsible for ending cyber- bullying, 31 per cent said young people and 29 per cent said internet companies.
“One of the key messages that we can clearly see from their opinions is the need for children and young people involvement and partnering: When asked who should be responsible for ending cyberbullying, the opinions were equally divided between governments, internet service providers (private sector) and young people themselves,” said Najat Maalla Mjid, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on Violence against Children.
More than 170,000 U-Reporters aged 13-24 years old participated in the poll including young people from Albania, Bangladesh, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, France, Gambia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jamaica, Kosovo, Liberia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Moldova, Montenegro, Myanmar, Nigeria, Romania, Sierra Leone, Trinidad & Tobago, Ukraine, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.
The poll results challenge the notion that cyber bullying among classmates is a uniquely high-income issue.
For example, 34 per cent of respondents in sub-Saharan Africa said they had been a victim of online bullying. 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.
In Uganda, a separate poll was conducted on August 30, 2019, among 4,057 U-Reporters aged 15-24 years old across the country, and 40 per cent said they have been victims of online violence/cyber bullying. 61 per cent also said that online abuse between young people happens mostly on social networks, especially through Facebook.
The Ugandan U-Reporters noted that if they become victims of cyber bullying, they would report to Police, Child Helpline Call Centre – Sauti 116, U-Report 8500, Uganda Communications Commission, political leaders, Uganda Human Rights Commission, counsellors, elders, UNICEF, Courts of Law, parents, teachers, headteachers, class teacher, school disciplinary committee among others.