One child in six is cyberbullied; pandemic made it worse, Latest World News - The New Paper

One child in six is cyberbullied; pandemic made it worse

COPEHNAGEN – Some 16 per cent of children aged between 11 and 15 were cyber bullied in 2022, up from 13 per cent four years ago, a World Health Organisation (WHO) Europe report covering 44 countries said on March 27.

“This report is a wake-up call for all of us to address bullying and violence, whenever and wherever it happens,” Dr Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, said in a statement.

Some 15 per cent of boys and 16 per cent of girls reported being cyber bullied at least once in recent months, according to the study, entitled Health Behaviour In School-Aged Children.

The WHO noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way adolescents behave towards each other.

“Virtual forms of peer violence have become particularly relevant since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, when young people’s worlds became increasingly virtual during times of lockdown,” the report said.

Other bullying has remained largely stable, with just a slight increase.

A total of 11 per cent of boys and girls reported being bullied at school at least two or three times a month in the past couple of months, compared with 10 per cent four years ago.

Six hours of screen time

The highest levels of cyber bullying were experienced by boys in Bulgaria, Lithuania, Moldova and Poland, while the lowest levels were reported in Spain, the WHO said without providing detailed data.

Dr Kluge said: “With young people spending up to six hours online every single day, even small changes in the rates of bullying and violence can have profound implications for the health and well-being of thousands.”

One adolescent in eight admitted cyber bullying others, an increase of 3 percentage points from 2018, the report said.

The number of adolescents who engaged in physical fighting, meanwhile, remained stable over the four-year period at 10 per cent – 14 per cent for boys and 6 per cent for girls.

The study was based on data from 279,000 children and adolescents from 44 countries across Europe, Central Asia and Canada.

In most places, cyber bullying peaked when children were 11 years old for boys and 13 for girls.

Parents’ socio-economic status made little difference in children’s behaviour, the report found.

But Canada was an exception, where less advantaged youths were more likely to experience bullying.

There, 27 per cent of girls belonging to the 20 per cent least affluent families said they had been subjected to bullying at school, compared with 21 per cent of girls among the 20 per cent most affluent families.

Noting that the problem was widespread, the report called for greater efforts to improve awareness.

“More investment in the monitoring of different forms of peer violence is needed,” it said.

“There is also an urgent need to educate young people, families and schools of the forms of cyber bullying and its implications, while regulating social media platforms to limit exposures to cyber bullying,” it concluded. – AFP