ENABLE final event on bullying in the context of child’s play
On the 21st and 22nd of September, the ENABLE (European Network Against Bullying in Learning and Leisure Environments) partnership held the final event of the European Project. COFACE Families Europe has been involved since the beginning of the project as a member of the Think Tank, bringing some of the expertise gathered from the #DeleteCyberbullying project and promoting the ENABLE deliverables via its website.
ENABLE aims to tackle bullying in a holistic way, helping young people exercise their fundamental rights in the home, school, class and community (i.e. peer group). The project aims to develop social and emotional learning (SEL) skills as a means of building resilience in young people so that they can better understand and become more responsible and effective for their on- and offline social interactions. ENABLE has been implemented in half a dozen countries across Europe, providing teachers with detailed lesson plans on SEL in a number of languages including Croatian. COFACE’s Croatian member, Korak po Korak, which is also highly active in prevention of cyberbullying, was present at the event.
The two day final event offered a mix of plenary sessions and workshops, including a brainstorming session during which participants were invited to develop a “roadmap” on key themes such as privacy and security, e-presence and communications, empathy and ethics, hate speech and extremism. Some noteworthy presentations from the conference included:
– The intervention of American expert Anne Collier who stressed the importance of a whole school approach to tackle cyberbullying and the failure of “zero tolerance” policies assorted to punitive measures such as suspension from school.
– Innovative examples of interactive games carried out by Urko Fernández from Pantallas Amigas (Spain), which consisted in a sorting exercise of social networking comments/messages drafted by psychologists. Children were encouraged to discuss whether the messages were safe or insulting and the video game setting sparked the debate and exchange in a natural way.
– A demonstration of security risks linked to the Whatsapp application which was presented by Mohamed Mustafa Saidalavi, allowing a person to send/receive messages from another person’s Whatsapp account by borrowing that person’s phone for a short moment and linking his/her account via a QR code on their own device.
COFACE, represented by Martin Schmalzried, spoke in a workshop on bullying in the context of child’s play – toys, games, social media and gaming environments.
Playing is important. Children develop a great number of social and technical skills via play. Recently, national education systems have taken an interest in new methods of learning, including the “gamification” of learning or the integration of new technologies in their teaching methods. While there are benefits to these innovative methods, one must be careful since the field of education is a lucrative market. For example, the UK based company Pearson, specialized in education, has a turnover of over £4 billion. The more “gamification” and new technologies are integrated into schools, the more money some of these companies can make. To guard against such vested interests, integrating innovative teaching methods in school should require careful consideration and be based on clear and proven added values. Besides, many of the video games cited as an example for their educational potential have been developed outside the video game industry (Minecraft, Portal…).
As regards bullying in video games, it takes many different forms such as flaming, trolling, griefing, identify theft, all of which may or may not fit the definition of bullying. Some examples include: Hacking into someone’s account and destroying their creations or stealing their virtual objects, and, in-game sabotage, such as ruining a player’s quest or “unreasonable and repeated killing” of a player, which is often referred to as “griefing”.
Bullying in video games is especially targeted towards specific groups, especially women, but also towards the LGBT and people with disabilities. New technologies such as Virtual and Augmented Reality have the potential to exacerbate some of these issues:
– Identify theft with technologies enabling realistic modelling of a person.
– Physical pain, as companies develop tools to increase the realism of VR.
– Increased trauma in case of in game extreme violence or harassment.
– Desensitisation which may contribute to lowering empathy.
Yet researchers have also found a number of benefits to VR which may, in certain simulated settings, increase empathy or help get past trauma. Monitoring developments in this field is therefore key in order to reap the benefits and minimize the risks.
For more information about the ENABLE project, visit the official website
EU Survey on ‘Cyberbullying among young people’
The European Parliament has commissioned the law and policy consultancy Milieu Ltd to deliver the ‘Research Paper on cyberbullying among young people’. The aim of this paper is to provide information on the scale/nature of cyberbullying among young people in the EU and on Member States’ legislation and policies aimed at preventing and tackling this phenomenon as well as on good practices in this area.
In the framework of this research, Milieu Ltd has contacted us to help them spread the word and disseminate the EU Survey on ‘Cyberbullying among young people’. The purpose of the survey is to collect the views of young people (between 12 and 21 years old) of cyberbullying and to test the good practices and recommendations identified through research at national level.
If you have between 12 and 21 years old, we invite you to fill in the survey (available in 10 languages):
Greek : http://goo.gl/forms/7heEEFYzhD
Thanks a lot for your cooperation!
ENABLE Hackathon and ambassador training
On the 12th, 13th and 14th of October, the ENABLE project (European Network Against Bullying in Learning and Leisure Environments) held a Hackathon price ceremony and an ambassador training in London.
Launched in June 2015, the ENABLE Hackathon called on young people to propose initiatives and ideas on how to facilitate conversations about cyberbullying and bullying between young people, help them understand the phenomenon and find creative solutions to deal with this problem.
The Hackathon ceremony brought together 6 winning teams from all over the world to present their initiatives and ideas such as mobile applications, peer support programmes, awareness raising campaigns and many more.
The ENABLE Ambassador Training took place on the 13th and 14th of October, following the ENABLE Hackathon, and was attended by teachers from Greece, the United Kingdom, Croatia and Denmark. During the two day training, teachers were guided through the ENABLE project’s key deliverables and how they can be used directly in schools to help students develop key social and emotional skills such as empathy, increased self-awareness, communication skills, active listening and a sense of responsibility.
The Social and Emotional Learning lesson plans include 10 lessons aimed at combatting bullying in a school environment by increasing the emotional intelligence in young people aged 11-14. They cover fundamental questions such as the construction of an individual’s identity, understanding bullying, enhancing peer support and peer mentoring.
Martin Schmalzried from COFACE attended the training as a member of the ENABLE Think Tank, building on the lessons learned from the #DeleteCyberbullying project to provide advice on the resources developed within the ENABLE project.
For more information about the ENABLE project, visit the ENABLE website here
Live Without Bullying – An initiative by KMOP, Greece
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.
For more information about KMOP, please visit the website
For more information about the programme “Live Without Bullying” please visit the website (in Greek)
Preventing bullying and cyberbullying through social and emotional learning
On the 11th and 12th of March, European Schoolnet organized the launch of the ENABLE project in Athens and brought together more than 50 policy makers, teachers, academics and health professionals from around the globe, the aim being to introduce the project, provide a forum of discussion for the Think Tank members and create solidarity as the project continues.
ENABLE (European Network Against Bullying in Learning and Leisure Environments) is an EU-funded that aims to tackle bullying in a holistic way, helping young people exercise their fundamental rights in the home, school, class and community.
The two-year project is built around three axes:
1. Fostering socio-emotional development of young people, by increasing their empathy and self-esteem through social and emotional learning modules that can be integrated into the curriculum. Teachers and parents will be trained through online courses and in national and European communities of practice.
2. Enhancing young people’s self-awareness, and their ability to objectively reflect on their behaviour and how their actions impact on others using self-monitoring techniques, such as daily logs and peer reviewing of their own photo/video productions.
3. Providing better routes to help for young people through a training module for professionals working with children/young people, policy-making support for schools in dealing with issues that often occur or are initiated outside the school context, and innovative digital tools to reduce the impact of bullying incidents. Training and peer support for parents will ensure a 360 degree approach.
COFACE, as a Think Tank member of the ENABLE project, was present at the public launch and will bring in its experience from the #DeleteCyberbullying project to contribute to the project’s success.
For more information about the project and how you can get involved, visit the ENABLE website
A Lawyer’s View of Cyberbullying
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
Can I Tell You Something?
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children called in a Childline survey for the voices of vulnerable children to be heard to tackle new emerging problems.
ChildLine’s ‘Can I Tell You Something?’ report shows a new and worrying trend of teenagers contacting the service about issues such as self-harm, suicide and online bullying.
This report clearly shows the deep unhappiness of thousands of young people. The biggest single problem is depression and unhappiness affecting nearly 36,000 children. 4,500 children between the ages of 12 and 15 rang because they needed to talk about suicide, and that is an increase of 43 per cent over the previous year.
ChildLine reports 87 per cent increase in contacts regarding cyber-bullying, whilst bullying contacts overall increased by just 8 per cent. Young people tell ChildLine that the 24 hour nature of online bullying means there’s no escape and it can lead to very serious feelings of isolation, low self-esteem and in a few desperate cases, suicide.
This Report is a real wake-up call. ChildLine is one of the most important sources of information about vulnerable children in the UK and these regular snap shots will help us keep one step ahead and focused on the areas that are really concerning them right now.
Interview with Agnes Uhereczky, COFACE Director, on cyberbullying in Europe. We deeply apologize for the bad quality of the video but at least the sound is good.
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