Internet bullying on the rise

Cyber bullying (bullying on the Internet) is becoming more common among children and teenagers. Some comments or photos are humiliating and offensive and have severe consequences.

According to surveys, every fifth student between the age of 14 and 19 has been a victim of cyber bullying. However, the estimated number of unknown cases is even bigger, experts think.

A case of cyber bullying has recently led to a fight in a Secondary School in Styria, in which a knife was used. A boy had insulted a girl on Facebook, whereupon she stabbed him during a school break.

Cyber bullying includes insults, rumours and slander, which are spread on the Internet. It also includes pictures and videos with an offensive content, stated Waltraud Schennach-Margreiter, expert for violence prevention.

As social networks like Facebook and the Internet on the phone have become very popular among the youth, more and more children and teenagers are facing mental violence.

“Cyber bullying has increased among teenagers and in primary schools as two thirds of all pupils have access to the Internet on their phones”, Ms Schennach-Margreiter said.

Even though bullying in schools has always existed, it has reached a new dimension with new communication methods. As the Internet is accessible everywhere for 24 hours, there is no room for privacy.

“Cyber bullying is often hidden. We know that smaller children talk to their parents about it. However, teenagers only talk to their friends and take a long time before they ask their parents for help”, the expert explained.

Apparently, staying silent makes the issue worse. Ms Schennach-Margreiter recommends prevention and defence.