Childhood in danger: almost half of children have become victims of cyberbullying

New risks emerge by spreading the use of social media supported by the ICT devices and the Internet of things (IoT). The increasing number of young people have become subject to various forms of cyberbullying in a digital space such us threats, mockery, disagreeable comments, slander, and so on [1]. More generally, the EU Commission defined cyberbullying as “a modern manifestation of bullying whereby children experience repeated verbal or psychological harassment through the internet or other digital technologies”[2]. It has become one of the most severe behaviours that causes the young generation’s psychological health problems[3]. 

The UN defined cyberbullying as “a serious manifestation of online violence” with the characteristics of power imbalance, use of electronic or digital means, anonymity, and capacity for mass communication[4]. The distinction between cyberbullying and other behaviours like cyberstalking or cybercrime was made after that point, underlining that yet a single online act can be a form of cyberbullying without the need for the act to be repeated over time[5]. 

The growing number of cases of this cybercrime to which young users of social media are exposed did not go unnoticed by the United Nations [6]. During the panel discussion on protecting children and teenagers from bullying, organized by the United Nation, it was concluded that preventing and addressing bullying is urgent to contribute to the promotion of the safe and non-violent learning environments and to the elimination of violence that the fourth goal of The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) seek to guarantee[7]. This fourth goal of The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is a part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted in September 2015 by all UN Member States, calls to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”[8]

Although the cyber bulling has no commonly agreed definition at the EU level, the 8th European Forum on the Rights of the Child of 2013, concluded based on study of available data, that two typical characteristics of cyberbullying can be commonly observed: (i) one person or a group of people use the ICT devices to conduct a form of psychological and verbal violence over (ii) a victim that cannot defend themselves[9]. 

In summer 2020, the European Commission led joint research titled “Kids’ Digital lives during COVID-19 times” that collected surveys from over 6,000 children aged 10 to 18 and their parts [10]. The research asked whether children experienced one or more of the following cyberbullying situations: (1) “Nasty or hurtful messages were sent to me”, (2) “Nasty or hurtful messages about me were passed around or posted where others could see”, (3) “I was left out or excluded from a group or activity on the internet” and (4) “I was threatened on the internet” [11]. Figure 1 below shows the percentage of the children that have experienced none of the above-mentioned forms of cyberbullying, the children that have encountered some forms of cyberbullying, and those who encountered all four [12].

Although 51% of the children did not suffer cyberbullying, nor did they get involved in cyberbullying situations mentioned above, it is noteworthy that almost half of the children participating in the survey have become victims of cyberbullying [13]. A quarter of children reported that they faced all four forms of cyberbullying, and another quarter expressed that they encountered at least one situation [14].

In several countries, cyberbullying is recognized as an illegal activity in their legal systems, such as: Australia, where cyberbullying laws vary from region to region; Canada, where according to the Education Act, the person who participates in cyberbullying can be suspended from school; Philippines, where, according to the Republic Act 10627, the school has the responsibility to implement the rules and regulations to prevent the cyberbullying and stop the phenomenon; United Kingdom, where through the Malicious Communications Act, cyberbullying is condemned with six months or more prison time and huge compensations; United States, where respective although different regulations have been implemented by all states [15]. 

As Cyber Rights Organization, we condemn cyberbullying and any other forms of cyber rights violations. We focus our effort on protection of digital privacy by assisting victims of cyberbullying in line with the 2030 UN Agenda. We respond promptly to cyberbullying cases through investigation, research, monitoring, and case-by-case assessments. We believe that Cyber Rights Organization response to cyberbullying helps create a safer online world for young generation. Contact us to know more.

Written by Xinyu Chen.

[1] EU Parliament (2016). ‘Cyberbullying among young people’. Available at:
[2] Ibidem.
[3] Ibidem.
[4] Office of the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children (2016). ‘Annual report’, Office of the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, ‘Thematic Report: Releasing children’s potential and minimizing risks: information and communication technologies, the internet and violence against children’, (2014)
[5] EU Parliament (2016). ‘Cyberbullying among young people’. Available at:
[6] Ibidem.
[7] UN News Centre (2015) “UN envoy calls for concerted efforts to eliminate bullying in all regions”. Available at:
[8] Ibidem.
[9] EU Parliament (2016). ‘Cyberbullying among young people’. Available at:
[10] European Commission, Joint Research Centre (2021). How children (10-18) experienced online risks during the COVID-19 lockdown. Spring 2020: key findings from surveying families in 11 European countries, Publications Office of the European Union, available at:
[11] Ibidem.
[12] Ibidem.
[13] Ibidem.
[14] Ibidem.
[15] Council of Europe (2021). “Cyber-bullying: trends, prevention strategies and the role of law enforcement”. Available at:

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