…Nigeria among top 30 countries most hit

By Juliet Umeh

As internet connectivity deepens across the world, its side effect has continued to manifest in the form of cyber bullying and other social vices against children.

File: Children 

The recent report from the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, said Nigeria is one of the 30 countries of the world where cyber bulling is rife.

The report said one in three young people in these 30 countries admitted having been a victim of online bullying with one in five reporting having skipped school due to cyber bullying and other cyber violence.

Cyber bullying or cyber harassment is a form of bullying or harassment using electronic means. It is when someone, typically teens, bully or harass others on the internet, particularly on social media sites.

Harmful bullying behaviour can include posting rumours, threats, sexual remarks, a victims’ personal information, or pejorative labels -hate speech. Bullying or harassment can be identified by repeated behaviour and intent to harm. Victims may experience lower self-esteem, increased suicidal ideation, and a variety of negative emotional responses, including being scared, frustrated, angry, and depressed.

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Also, almost three-quarters of young people also said social networks, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter, are the most common place for online bullying.

According to the report, more than 170,000 U-Reporters aged 13-24 years old participated in the poll including young people from Nigeria, 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, Romania, Sierra Leone, Trinidad & Tobago, Ukraine, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, said the major reason for the overwhelming result is because connected classrooms mean school no longer ends once a student leaves class, and, unfortunately, neither does schoolyard bullying.

She said 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.

The report has it that 32 percent of those polled believe governments should be responsible for ending cyber bullying, 31 percent said young people and 29 percent said internet companies.

Thirty four percent of respondents in sub-Saharan Africa said they had been a victim of online bullying

The poll results challenge the notion that cyber bullying among classmates is a uniquely high-income issue.  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.

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UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General, SRSG, on Violence against Children Najat Maalla Mjid, said: “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 cyber bullying, the opinions were equally divided between governments, internet service providers and young people themselves. We are in this together and we must share the responsibility in partnership.


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