Nearly one in six children harassed online

Nearly one in six children harassed online

Around 16% of children aged 11 to 15 said they had been harassed online in 2022, a figure increasing over four years, according to a study published Wednesday by the World Health Organization (WHO).

This report is a wake-up call for us all to take action against harassment and violence, wherever and whenever they occur.“, alerted the WHO director for Europe, Hans Kluge, quoted in a press release.

The previous HBSC study (‘Health Behavior in School-aged Children’), based on data from 2018, reported 13% of cyberbullying in this age group.

Physical harassment has remained stable: 11% say they were harassed at school last year compared to 10% of children surveyed four years ago, according to the report published Wednesday.

The pandemic has changed the way adolescents interact, noted the UN body.

Virtual forms of peer violence have become particularly prevalent since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, when young people’s worlds became increasingly virtual during periods of confinement.“, it is noted.

According to the new study, 15% of boys and 16% of girls said they had been harassed online in the past few months at least once.

6 hours behind the screens

The highest levels were recorded among boys in Bulgaria, Lithuania, Poland and Moldova and the lowest by boys in Spain, the WHO said, without giving details.

With young people spending up to six hours a day online, even small changes in rates of bullying and violence can have profound impacts on the health and well-being of thousands of people“, a dit M. Kluge.

One in eight adolescents admitted to having harassed a peer or peers online, a figure up three points since 2018, according to the report.

For fights, the data is stable over four years, with 10% of adolescents having been involved in an altercation.

The report covers 279,000 children and adolescents from 44 countries and regions across Europe and Central Asia as well as Canada.

In most territories, cyberbullying peaks at age 11 for boys and 13 for girls.

In addition, there is mostly no or little difference depending on the socio-professional categories of the parents.

Thus, in France, there was only a one point difference between the groups.

Canada, however, reported a significant gap whereby the least advantaged were the most harassed.

Thus, 27% of girls belonging to the least wealthy 20% of households reported having been victims of bullying at school compared to only 21% of girls belonging to the richest 20%.

The problem is general and it is important that awareness be too, according to the report’s analysis.

More investment is needed in monitoring different forms of peer violence“, it is written.

It is also urgent to educate young people, families and schools about forms of cyberbullying and their implications, while regulating social networks in order to limit exposure to cyberbullying“, the report concludes.