On the 22nd and 23rd of September, German and Polish Safer Internet Centers jointly held another edition of their major Safer Internet Conference in Warsaw, Poland. The conference revolved around several key topics such as privacy, sexuality, risky content, data ethics, cyberbullying and inappropriate online behaviours. Many key issues were touched upon such as:
-The growing use and exploitation of private data as a business model and the dawn of private data as a currency to pay for online content.
-The impact of sexting and exposure to sexually explicit content on children’s and young people’s sexuality, which borders on cyberbullying as well.
-How to secure your right to privacy online and some concrete tips to keep your data safe from unethical uses.
COFACE, represented by Martin Schmalzried, sat on a panel discussion dedicated to challenges and visions concerning child safety online in the present and in the future. The three main points addressed by COFACE were related to cyberbullying.
How to reach out to parents that are unaware of cyberbullying?
Some parents will always be left out and feel helpless when it comes to dealing with cyberbullying. Just like other topics such as sexuality, not all parents feel ready to discuss certain topics for a variety of reasons. Schools and teachers remain the best way to ensure a common knowledge and awareness about issues such as cyberbullying. That was why a universal schooling system was set up in the first place: to level the playing field and give each child the same chances in life through education. However, this is no reason to give up on parents and we should always try to reach out to them to make them feel more concerned and involved about issues such as cyberbullying. Examples include:
-Organising parents evenings in schools or through organisations such as family associations.
-Presenting them with easy tools and steps to protect their children online.
-Information campaigns via magazines and newsletters from family associations or the provision of easy tools and multimedia resources such as those delivered by the #DeleteCyberbullying project.
How do you explain the difference in awareness about cyberbullying between EU countries?
It all has to do with cultural differences and the environment. For instance, in some countries such as the Scandinavian countries, topics like sexuality, violence or gender roles are openly discussed by the wider public, while in other countries such as the southern Member States, these topics are much less “taboo”. Such cultural differences, among many other factors, may explain the differences in attitudes towards an issue like cyberbullying. For instance, in COFACE’s awareness raising video about cyberbullying, we have received many comments implying that cyberbullying is not such a tragic issue, after all, it’s “just” a few online words that you can easily ignore, especially if “you are a man”.
Parents often don’t come to parent evenings at school. How can they be more inclined to come?
There are many strategies for securing parents’ participation but we would like to put the focus on work-life balance. Parents and teachers are living busy lives. With both parents working, there is little time left for parenting, personal activities, social activities and household responsibilities. Securing a better work-life balance would enable parents to have more time to attend parent evenings and get more involved in their parenting, including digital parenting. COFACE has carried out a full campaign last year on work-life balance.
Today, children connect to the internet with mobile devices at an ever earlier age. Fast evolution in the field of ICT creates new challenges and opportunities.
While some years ago parents could still monitor their children’s use of the internet on the home computer, access to the internet has become ever more mobile. Children have, at their fingertips, access to an unprecedented wealth of information and a way to interact with the whole world. At the same time, a certain set of skills are needed to make the most out of the internet. Challenges such as cyberbullying, exposure to inappropriate or harmful content, exposure to advertising and excessive use/time spent on the internet are real and can have enduring negative effects on the development of children.
What can we do?
In essence, keeping children safe online is the responsibility of all actors. Parents, teachers, service providers, hardware manufacturers, policy makers…
At the same time, parents are the primary educators of children and in the case of young children, parents are virtually the sole reference for establishing healthy habits and adhering to core values such as respect, be it online or offline.
Children need to learn as early as possible about their rights and responsibilities and parents are among the first to initiate this learning process.
Knowledge these two dimensions can help children put into better perspective and react better to issues such as cyberbullying, by knowing what rights they have should they be a victim and by keeping in mind the consequences should they be a perpetrator.
But all parents are not IT-savy and do not feel comfortable or capable to discuss and exchange about the online world with their children. To that end, COFACE has set up a resources page on its website to help reference and share good practices and resources that can help parents in their essential parenting role.
For more information, please have a look at our resources page.
The rapid rise of bullying has been recognized as one of the most concerning phenomena of the last decade. In response to this, KMOP (Family and Childcare Centre) in Greece has developed and launched its new programme “Live Without Bullying”.
“Live Without Bullying” is a pioneering innovative programme for Greece. At its heart lies an electronic platform, where children and adolescents facing bullying problems may seek help and support from peers who get a special training so as to become online mentors. These peer mentors are constantly under the supervision of professional psychologists and chat administrators. Moreover, educators and parents have a separate forum in the platform for exchanging views and getting advice from psychologists. Rich informational and educational material on the issue of school- and cyber-bullying is always available for users in the form of multimedia content through an electronic library.
All the mentoring sessions for users which take place online are free and anonymous, encouraging thus children and adults to express their worries and seek support from the comfort of their own home.
The programme is being implemented in cooperation with the Adolescent Health Unit of the 2nd Paediatric Clinic of University of Athens, “P. & A. Kyriakou” Children’s Hospital, and the University of Peloponnese. The programme is already being rolled-out in a municipality of Attica with success and it is hoped that in following academic year it is going to expand to a large number of towns across Greece.
SAFER INTERNET DAY | 10 February 2015
Safer Internet Day (SID) is organised by Insafe in February of each year to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially among children and young people across the world. Safer Internet Day 2015 will be celebrated tomorrow, with the strapline of “Let’s create a better internet together” following the success of last year’s campaign.
We can all contribute to foster positive and eliminate negative content and behavior online in many ways, regardless of who we are.The Confederation of Family Organisations in the European Union (COFACE), and the partners of the #DeleteCyberbullying, project, funded by the European Programme Daphne III, aim at raising awareness about the issue of cyberbullying and what can be done to prevent and address it. To this end, a number of tools have been developed and are freely available online. An awareness raising video is available on YouTube in 12 different languages, a Teacher’s Manual and a free interactive app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store (*)
The #DeleteCyberbullying app aims at answering questions teens, parents and teachers may have about this phenomenon through an interactive quiz to test their knowledge. It also enables teenagers to take a self-diagnosis quiz, which redirects victims to the designated help phone-lines, where they can directly contact professionals for specific advice in their own country and language.
The app is available in Belgium, France, Netherlands, UK, Ireland, Croatia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Denmark, Finland, Germany and Sweden, in the native languages of these countries.
Install the #DeleteCyberbullying App
(*) The app is currently available for Android and will be available soon for iOS.
When Mike Misanelli, a Philadelphia radio host, Tweeted Sunday, “Hey Giants fans, Victor Cruz is over. Dance to that,” many Giants’ fans started calling for Misanelli’s job.
Heeeeelzfan Tweeted, “Hopefully, we’ll be hearing soon from management at 97.5, ‘Mike Misanelli is over.’”
Misanelli’s tweet, sent when Giants’ player Victor Cruz was injured, stirred a vigorous online debate that quickly turned into a discussion of cyber-bullying.
Misanelli’s tweet may not rise to the level of what is traditionally considered to be cyber-bullying, but it did create a conversation and an opportunity to look at the latest form of bullying made possible by technology.
Cyberbullying is making use of technology to harass, threaten or verbally abuse and/or humiliate another person. Often, it can rise to the scope of cyber-stalking, a crime.
Over 15 percent of high school students claim to have been cyberbullied and 6 percent of the students in middle school say they have been on the receiving end of cyber-bullying.
Some people find it humorous to post embarrassing images of a friend. The consequences are anything but laughable. From the victim’s perspective, it is impossible to remove the image and if the content goes viral, no one has any control of it. Victims of cyber-bullying may succumb to low self-esteem, isolation and school or job problems.
The perpetrator can suffer consequences as well. In this digital age, that posted image may just show up in a screening when they apply for college or a job. The bully may also be charged with a crime if sexual content was involved and the bully will have to register as a sex offender. Those are the kind of things that don’t disappear when the laughter stops.
Normally, bullies tend to pick on socially isolated people with few friends. Cyber-bullies tend to attack close friends or even people in a comparable social network. The result of the cyber-bulling can make a person feel isolated from their friends as well as make it difficult to enter a romantic relationship.
Law enforcement officials frequently have a difficult time in determining their role in dealing with bullying. Social networking and advances in communication tools complicate the issue. Historically, bullying happened inside, or close to, a school or neighborhood. Technology allows today’s bullies to extend their reach and their threat.
Law enforcement officers assigned to schools will almost certainly encounter some form of cyber-bullying. A survey of law enforcement leaders attending the FBI National Academy (FBINA) in Quantico, Virginia showed that 94 percent of SROs feel that cyber-bullying is a serious problem that calls for law enforcement’s intervention. Seventy-eight percent said they had conducted one or more investigations into cyber-bullying the previous school year.
A middle school boy, in 1998, created a website that threatened his algebra teacher and his school principal. According to a white-paper, published by Bucknell University, the school permanently expelled the student due to the threats and harassment.
Another case happened in 2003 when a 14 year old male received unwanted Internet attention. A video showing the boy dressed in a Jedi knight costume went viral. The boy was attacked by classmates who encouraged him to kill himself.
Suicide Resulting from Cyberbullying
In 2006, a girl named Megan Meier, committed suicide after a classmate, and the classmate’s mother, created a fake online persona and used the account to send hateful comments to Meier. Federal prosecutors took on the case and tried the mother-daughter team. A jury found the mom guilty of a single felony count of conspiracy and three misdemeanor counts of unauthorized computer use. On appeal, judges later acquitted the mother of the convictions.
Jessica Logan committed suicide in 2008 after nude images of her were circulated by students in Cincinnati. Logan’s family was awarded a settlement of over $150,000 in 2012. Ohio legislators later passed a law encouraging Ohio schools to increase teacher training in an effort to combat cyber-bullying. The law was called The Jessica Logan Act.
Prevention and Repercussions
Following the Columbine massacre in 1999, anti-bullying statues became widespread. States have continued to pass laws that require districts to establish, and follow, strict policies about cyber-bullying. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 34 states passed anti-bullying laws between 2005 and 2010. Now, when cyber-bullying includes a threat of violence, stalking, sexually-explicit photos or messages it rises to criminal behavior. Victims should file a report with local law enforcement.
About the author
Arkady Bukh is a nationally recognized attorney from New York who represents clients on high-profile cases, like Boston Marathon Bombings or famous cyber crime cases. Arkady is also a published author and contributor to NY/NJ Law Journal, LA Daily Journal, Law 360, Westlaw, Thomson Reuters, Nolo, and many other media. More
The International Network Against CyberHate (INACH) recently held its annual conference which brought together key players from civil society, law enforcement and the industry to discuss how Cyberhate could best be tackled through partnerships. The presentations brought to light several interesting points on how to tackle cyberhate.
From law enforcement, the presentations showed that the very process of fighting cyberhate is a very time consuming and lengthy one. Websites that spread hate can take several months to several years to be taken down, especially for international websites. Removing such content from the internet often requires the clearing of many legal hurdles such as a clear mandate from a court, an official request from one law enforcement agency to another in case of international websites etc. This basically means that for individuals seeking for redress or that have been directly targeted by a specific website, the process can be extremely long and complex.
From the industry represented by Facebook and Twitter, most of the solutions involve reporting followed up by moderation and take-down. More recently, many social networks including Facebook and Twitter have started partnering up with local civil society organisations and providing them privileged access to reporting tools and the moderation team to take down material faster. Another recent trend is the encouragement of counter-speech, namely individuals that retaliate against negative messages with a flood of positive ones.
Finally, the civil society organisations presented many activities and good practices from their respective networks, ranging from tools to be used in classrooms to coordination and cooperation work on an international level.
During the conference, we intervened to underline the specifics of cyberbullying. One of the most important problems in tackling cyberbullying online is the timing of an intervention. By the time a reporting has been filed and a moderation team has processed it, much of the damage and impact on the victim has already been done and new offensive or hurtful material has been published.
The industry should take moderation a step further and involve users as volunteer moderators directly in order to speed up the moderation and review process. Many online services have already adopted such models each tailored to the services’ needs: Wikipedia and its voluntary contributors/editors or the “tribunal” in the online game League of Legends.
For more information about IN@CH, visit their website
Are you a worried parent, fearing your child may be cyberbullyied or cyberbullying someone?
Or a teacher who wants to explore the topic of cyberbullying in class?
Are you a teenager who has received some nasty text messages or witnessed cyberbullying?
Download our free, interactive app, that contains:
– An interactive quiz for teenagers, parents and teachers that displays customized feedback based on the responses to the quiz and redirects the user to the most relevant information sources, material or help in case a user has experienced cyberbullying.
– A quiz to test your knowledge about cyberbullying and the internet in general, with the possibility to share your score on Facebook and get more information about cyberbullying.
– A “one touch” button for help in case the user is in need of direct assistance.
– An awareness raising video embedded in the app (english) or on Youtube (multiple languages available).
– A survey for teachers to help better understand their experience and expectations regarding cyberbullying.
– A section with more information about the project and the app.
Read more: goo.gl/9dLqhL
Happy Safer Internet Day 2014! #SID2014
This year’s Safer Internet Day theme looks at the responsibility that we must all take in making the internet a better place. Whether we are children and young people, parents and carers, educators or social care workers, or indeed industry, decision makers or politicians, we all have a role to play.
We can contribute to foster the positive and eliminate the negative online in many ways, regardless of who we are. For example:
Children and young people can help to foster the positive by being kind and respectful to others online, by protecting their online reputations, and by seeking out positive opportunities to create, engage and share online. They can help to eliminate the negative by being ‘helpful bystanders’: supporting peers if they encounter issues online, taking a stand against cyberbullying, and reporting any inappropriate or illegal content they find.
In this regard, COFACE is currently coordinating the European Awareness Raising Campaign on Cyberbullying: #DeleteCyberbullying. The project, through the cooperation of the international partners, contributes to developing a common approach to risk-prevention, information and guidelines to families, parents, children and other relevant stakeholders. We have created a short educational video Cyberbullying: there is a way out! available now in 9 languages.
Parents and carers can help to foster the positive by maintaining an open and honest dialogue with their children about their online lives, by supporting them with their personal development online and helping them to deal with any concerns or issues, seeking out positive opportunities to share with their children online, and helping their children to find and use good quality digital resources. They can help to eliminate the negative by monitoring and supporting their child’s online activity, by modelling positive online behaviours themselves, and by also reporting any inappropriate or illegal content they find.
Educators and social care workers can help to foster the positive by equipping children and young people with the digital literacy skills they require for today’s world, and giving them opportunities to use and create positive content online. They can help to eliminate the negative by supporting youngsters if they encounter problems online, and by giving them the confidence and skills to seek help from others.
Industry can help to foster the positive by creating and promoting positive content and services online, developing ethical and transparent policies, and protecting our data. They can help to eliminate the negative by making systems and services more secure by design, by being more responsive to user concerns, and by providing quick and easy access to support if things do go wrong.
Decision makers and politicians can help to foster the positive by ensuring that there are opportunities in the curriculum for children to learn and teachers to teach about online safety, ensuring that parents and carers have access to appropriate information and sources of support, and that industry are encouraged to self regulate their content and services. They must also take the lead in governance and legislation, and ultimately ensure the safety and wellbeing of children and young people through effective child protection strategies for the online world.
Safer Internet Day is organised by the joint Insafe/INHOPE network, with the support of the European Commission each 11 February to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile devices, especially among children and young people. On Safer Internet Day hundreds of events are organised to raise awareness of online safety issues.
COFACE’s profile on the SID website: www.saferinternetday.org/web/coface