For a number of years UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (IITE) experts monitor the development of relatively new phenomenon of cyberbullying. It is related to growing global use of mobile connectivity, e-mail, Internet, social networks, blogs and on-line chats to victimize people by spreading rumors about them, sending sensitive and obscene text messages, images and video content, disclosing personal information to humiliate and discredit an individual. Cyberbullying differs from other toxic behaviors by anonymity of an aggressor.
Tigran Yepoyan, UNESCO regional advisor on HIV and health education says:
“Digital bullying in the Internet is dangerous for its anonymity and involvement of big number of people either as victims or as witnesses. The perpetrator has much lower risk to be identified and punished, and therefore his or her behavior may become much more aggressive. Modern on-line resources enable victimizing and offensive content distribution to vast numbers of social networks followers. That is why cyberbullying can harm people, especially adolescents and young people, more severely. Research shows that globally 5% to 20% of children and adolescents become victims of cyberbullying; girls more often than boys. And many of them do not know who to ask for support.”
UNESCO IITE works closely with education sector in Eastern Europe and Central Asia to develop teachers’ capacities to address violence and bullying in schools and equips them with relevant resources – nationally adapted guides based on UNESCO’s global guidance on Addressing School-Related Gender-Based Violence. These guides help teachers in Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Moldova to prevent from and response to violence and bullying in school including cyberbullying.
«This is a highly sensitive topic but we do believe that only a well-informed and trained teacher may develop in-depth understanding of the nature and causes of bullying and be prepared to effectively respond to and act as a trusted adult for both victims and perpetrators. Adolescents and young people can learn more how to avoid and respond to violence and cyberbullying at teenslive.info – an on-line resource in Russian language that provides practical advice and relevant contacts” – says Tigran Yepoyan.
An important role in fighting back on cyberbullying plays mass media when it takes a balanced and well-informed approach feature this problem. One of many examples of such approach is a recent episode on internet trolling shown by the leading national TV channel in Russia, available in Russian language.
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