On the 10th of October, celebrating the World Mental Health Day, Mental Health Europe held a conference on the issue of mental health in the digital age. Experts from the industry and representatives from civil society including Youth Mental Health Ambassador Nikki Mattocks, gathered to share expertise and experience on how to prevent, protect and improve youth mental health online.
COFACE-Families Europe was represented on the panel by Martin Schmalzried, who presented the #DeleteCyberbullying project and lessons learned.
The #DeleteCyberbullying project ended in 2014 with key deliverables such as an Android app, an awareness-raising video, an online virtual march and the outcomes of a global European conference on the topic of cyberbullying. Besides the expertise gathered on how to best tackle cyberbullying, one very interesting lesson learned was the comments left by users on its awareness raising video, which reflected the many “myths” surrounding cyberbullying in the minds of regular users/individuals, showing that we are still a long way from ensuring that end users understand the phenomenon and are equipped to adequately respond.
Some of the most important “myths” surrounding cyberbullying include:
- The belief that you can simply turn off the technology on which you experience cyberbullying or disconnect/close your online accounts. In that event, not only does the cyberbullying continue, but it is even worse as you have no idea how many hateful messages or humiliating pictures about you are being circulated behind your back. Even a child who is not using technology at all can be a victim of cyberbullying, for example if a bully decides to open a “fake” account using some humiliating photos of that child.
- Over-simplifying the solution to an action like blocking the bully. While blocking is indeed part of the response to cyberbullying, it is by no means an all-encompassing solution. As explained above, cyberbullying can also happen behind a person’s back.
- “Everyone gets cyberbullied, don’t be such a pussy and toughen up”. The idea that cyberbullying or bullying for that matter are simply part of “life” and one has to toughen up. While it is true that the line between “teasing” and “cyberbullying” are subjective, this belief virtually legitimizes any forms of bullying/cyberbullying, especially the most serious, even criminal forms (like sharing sexual material of underage children to humiliate them). A healthy society shouldn’t be built on the predicament that everyone will get bullied, but rather to strengthen social skills, including social and emotional learning, developing empathy, to prevent such actions in the first place. Finally, it is always easy and convenient for the wolf to recommend sheep to “grow some teeth”.
- “Asking the bully to stop will only make things worse”. This may very well be the case, unfortunately, if the bullying/cyberbullying is unbearable and the victim seeks external help/assistance from a higher authority like a teacher or the police, the very first thing they will be asked is whether they “have told the perpetrators that their actions are hurtful and that they should stop”. This step is therefore a precondition for seeking further help rather than an end in itself.
Finally, Martin Schmalzried underlined that as cyberbullying is getting worse, looking at the statistics from the latest LSE study, policy makers need to envisage broader measures than education. The online environment also plays a role in the uptake of cyberbullying. Online service providers treat their users like subjects rather than citizens with no right to agency over the services they are using. Moderation is taken out of users’ hands and managed by an obscure cloud of professional moderators which cannot possibly respond to every cyberbullying situation in a timely fashion, busy as they are taking down the content which might get them in legal trouble (copyrighted material, child abuse/exploitation/pornography…).
COFACE-Families Europe has been calling for community based moderation, where users themselves have a right to act and shape the services they are using. And this might not only help curb cyberbullying, or hate speech, but is a fundamental necessity for cultivating values of democracy, deliberation, participation and compromise as it requires a community to debate and agree on the rules by which they are governed. Successful examples of community based moderation include Wikipedia, which has been built and populated by users themselves. As a final point, it is to be stressed that community based moderation cannot, by any means, equate to counter speech, which is simply “support” messages to a victim without any right to agency/participation in governing their online services.
More information about the event here.
You can’t always see the pain caused by bullying, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.
Please take a moment to watch and share our brand new Big March campaign video. Please share the video with your friends and family on Facebook, Twitter and any other social networks and help us spread the word!
Almost 95,000 people from across Europe are supporting BeatBullying and #DeleteCyberbullying’s Big March campaign which will take place on 11 June. We are marching online for every child that has hidden their tears, bruises, and scars.
Find out more about what we’re fighting for and sign up today at bigmarch.beatbullying.org
BeatBullying and #DeleteCyberbullying
The event will be held on 4th June, 15:00-18:00 CET, followed by a light drinks reception at the Northern Ireland Executive Brussels Office. [Live streaming available].
The programme and more information here
One and a half years after the launch of the #DeleteCyberBullying Project, it is time to take stock of the milestones and achievements of the campaign and look at the challenges that still lie ahead.
The work achieved by the project is the successful cooperation of eight organisations from seven different countries, Belgium, Hungary, Spain, the UK, Bulgaria, Greece and Finland. The partners brought different perspectives and experience to the project, but all agreed, that effective prevention and early detection of cyberbullying is key, and can be best achieved by informing parents, teachers and teens about the different forms it can take, and how to react.
The project was a very ambitious undertaking, and among others delivered a successful European conference in Madrid in May 2013, a very popular short educational animation (with over 50.000 views on YouTube), as well as the app for phones and tablets, for the time being in Android version, with the iOS version expected by September. The project also calls upon the expression of solidarity and civic courage through the virtual, online Big March to be held on the 11 June 2014.
Through the tools developed by the partnership, key messages are to speak up, and tell a trusted adult about cyberbullying.
The Europe-wide cyberbullying conference, organised by COFACE
on May 28 in Madrid, gathered over 80 experts in the field from all over Europe.
The Final Report of the conference is available for download here:
The speakers’ presentations, videos and pictures are available on the conference’s page.
We have drawn many conclusions and learnt a lot, which will feed the #DeleteCyberbullying project work for the months to come. The next step of the project, building on the successes of this conference, will be to launch in November 2013 a European awareness raising digital campaign The Big March 2014.
We are also happy to inform you that we are currently working on the development of an smartphone application for teenagers, parents and teachers in the form of an interactive quiz. The app will be available next year. We are also creating an awareness-raising short video on cyberbullying.
For any questions, follow-up or interest in taking part in our awareness raising effort, you can always get in touch!
Please do not hesitate to share the report and the blog of the project http://deletecyberbullying.eu/ with other interested partners.
One last thing, as you know, #DeleteCyberbullying is an European Awareness Raising Campaign so we would be very happy to publish a guest blog from you on our blog.
Stay tuned, more up-dates about the project and other exciting milestones will come shortly your way!
We would like to say a big thank you to all participants for taking part in the European Conference on Cyberbullying in Madrid and also via streaming all around the world (ok, in 14 countries…). From the overwhelming positive feedback we received during and after the conference, we concluded that we achieved our main objective, namely to open a discussion and facilitate the sharing of experience and best practice in Europe between a great variety of actors involved in the fight against cyberbullying, such as families, young people, NGOs, schools, law enforcement and the industry.
We have drawn many conclusions and learnt a lot, which will feed the #DeleteCyberbullying project work for the months to come. The next step of the project, building on the successes of this conference, will be to launch in November 2013 a European awareness raising digital campaign “The Big March”. We will keep you informed!
Please find below some Multimedia materials:
We are looking forward to working with you in the future.
The #DeleteCyberbullying Team
“I actually forgot what it felt like to be happy” were the very touching words of 17 year old Nathalie, a former victim of bullying and cyberbullying, who shared her very personal story with the participants of the European #DeleteCyberbullying conference.
The Europe-wide cyberbullying conference, organised by COFACE on 28th May, gathered over 80 participants in Madrid, all experts in the field from all over Europe.
As part of the #DeleteCyberbullying project, the conference took on ambitious goals to bring together a great variety of actors involved in the fight against cyberbullying, such as families, young people, NGOs, schools, law enforcement and the industry.
Over the course of the day, in different plenary and interactive sessions the participants shared their experience, learned from each other and showed great interest in cooperating further to address the challenges of cyberbullying together.
Peer mentoring emerged as one of the most successful approaches in preventing and addressing cyberbullying, notably by empowering young people to talk about their bad experiences, and to seek help from young people of the same age group.
The highlights of the day were the honest testimonies of the 4 teenagers who shared their personal stories and experiences with the conference participants, which really brought home the core of the issue.
A consensus emerged around the idea, that cyberbullying is not only about technology but also about behaviour. Strengthening young people’s empathy and their sense of responsibility are key in fostering a bullying free environment.
“To empower kids, their whole environment needs to be empowered!”
So many actors in different fields have already acknowledged the importance and urgency to act; yet without a coordinated approach we will not be able to make a real difference.
The next step of the #DeleteCyberbullying project, building on the successes of this conference, will be to launch in November 2013 a European awareness raising digital campaign “The Big March”.
As the conference has been web-streamed, all the videos, presentations and pictures will be available here.
Cyberbullying is not only about technology but about behaviour (pdf)
European Conference on Cyberbullying, 28 May, Madrid
Follow our #DeleteCyberbullying conference in Madrid via web-streaming:
9.30 – 9.45: Welcome address
9.45 – 10.15: Opening Key note speeches
10.15 – 10.45: Figures, statistics and law: a quick overview of the latest findings and state of play
10.45 – 11.30: Panel 1: The youth perspective
11.30 – 11.45: Coffee Break
11.45 – 12.30: Panel 2: Industry and Law enforcement
12.30 – 13.15: Panel 3: Awareness raising and empowerment of Parents, Children and Schools
13.15 – 14.45: Lunch break
15.00 – 17.30: Open Space: An exchange of existing projects, tools, websites, training and other material, followed by a discussion
17.30 – 18.00: Conclusions and the way forward.