ISLAMABAD: UNICEF warned today of the dangers posed by online violence, cyberbullying and digital harassment for a large number of young people aged between15 to 24 years who are online in Pakistan and called for concerted action to tackle and prevent violence against children and young people.
The call, made on Safer Internet Day, comes following a recent UNICEF poll of young people, which received more than 1 million responses over five weeks from more than 160 countries, and suggestions from a series of student-led #ENDviolence Youth Talks held around the world.
In it, young people provided thoughtful responses about what they and their parents, teachers and policymakers could do to keep them safe — and kindness stood out as one of the most powerful means to prevent bullying and cyberbullying.
“We’ve heard from children and young people from around the globe and taking their lead, UNICEF is inviting everyone to be kind online and calling for greater action to make the Internet a safer place for everyone,” said Aida Girma, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan.
According to data from UNESCO on the prevalence of cyberbullying in high-income countries, the proportion of children and adolescents who are affected by cyberbullying range from 5 to 21 per cent, with girls appearing to be more likely to experience cyberbullying than boys.
Cyberbullying can cause profound harm as it can quickly reach a wide audience, and can remain accessible online indefinitely, virtually ‘following’ its victims online for life. Bullying and cyberbullying feed into each other, forming a continuum of damagingbehaviour. Victims of cyberbullying are more likely to indulge in harmful practices and skip school than other students.
They also are more likely to receive poor grades and experience low self-esteem and health problems. In extreme situations, cyberbullying has led to suicide.
“Thirty years after the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the creation of the World Wide Web, it is time for governments, families, academia and, critically, the private sector to put children and young people at the centre of digital policies,” said Ms. Girma “By protecting them from the worst the Internet has to offer and expanding access to its best, we can each help tip the balance for good.”