International Day against Violence and Bullying at School, Including Cyberbullying, and VK’s Project against Cyberbullying

International Day against Violence and Bullying and Regional Initiatives

In 2019, 193 UNESCO Member States supported the establishment of an International Day against Violence and Bullying at School, Including Cyberbullying, on the first Thursday of November to raise awareness and put an end to the spread of violence and bullying as gross violations of the rights of children and young people to education, health and wellbeing.

In 2021, the International Day is marked under the theme “Tackling cyberbullying and other forms of online violence involving children and young people.” Addressing the cyberbullying problem requires close cooperation of parents, teachers, school administrators, and the providers of digital platforms used by children to communicate and interact online.

In this context, relevant steps initiated by technology and media corporations themselves are of particular importance. In 2019, VK* announced November 11 as the Day against Cyberbullying. The portal launched with VK’s support educates the Russian-speaking web’s multimillion audiences about cyberbullying, why it must not be tolerated, its consequences, and where to find help.

*VK is a Russian technology corporation (formerly, the Group)

Cyberbullying Worldwide: Facts and Figures

In its new document Tackling cyberbullying and other forms of online violence involving children and young people: fact sheet, UNESCO presents statistics on the scope of the problem worldwide.

Globally cyberbullying is widespread

— 1 in 2 children aged 11-18 surveyed in 11 European countries, 6 in 10 children aged 13-17 in the USA and 1 in 3 primary and secondary school students surveyed in South Africa reported they experienced cyberbullying.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in the scale of cyberbullying and online child sexual exploitation by adults, by providing new opportunities for abusers

— 44% of the children surveyed in 11 European countries who had been cyberbullied before lockdown said it happened even more during lockdowns in 2020.

— Specialist cybersecurity company Web-IQ reported that between February and March 2020, there was an increase of over 200% in posts on known child sexual abuse exploitation forums that provide access to images and videos.

Online sexual violence particularly affects girls and young women

— In Europe, 11% of women aged 18-29 years said they experienced cyber-harassment since the age of 15, including offensive and unwanted messages or advances.

— The examination of a random selection of videos and images in the Interpol’s International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database during 2016 and 2018 showed that 65% of unidentified victims were girls, however, the most severe abuse images were likely to feature boys.

— INHOPE, an international network of hotlines tracking online child sexual abuse materials from over 60 countries, found that 93% of victims in 2020 were girls.

Sexting – sending sexual content – is becoming a common practice among children

— A study conducted in Australia, Canada, Europe, South Africa, Republic of Korea and the USA reveals that among children of 11 to 17 years of age, almost 28% said that they received sexts, almost 15% sent sexts, and 12% forwarded a sext they had received without consent.

The document discusses what makes children and young people vulnerable to cyberbullying and offers tips on what teachers and parents can do to help children and young people interact safely online, prevent bullying, and find help if needed.

UNESCO Resources on Violence, Bullying and Cyberbullying

To learn more about UNESCO’s activities and resources on countering violence, bullying and cyberbullying, see School violence and bullying and UNESCO IITE’s dedicated page Addressing school violence, bullying and cyberbullying.

Bullying is a central theme of “II” (“Two”), a teen drama produced with support from UNESCO IITE in 2019 as part of a regional campaign to prevent stigma and discrimination against young people living with HIV. The film received wide critical acclaim, featured at a number of high-profile international film festivals, and is now available for viewing online. Viewers can also access the film’s interactive website to immerse themselves in the characters’ stories and dramas and also to find links to more than 100 resources, such as psychological support and counseling services, mobile applications, educational websites, etc., for teens and young people, including those affected by bullying.

Another standout media project to address peer bullying is School Elections, a new interactive television series produced in Kyrgyzstan with support from UNESCO IITE in 2020. It is available in Kyrgyz with Russian subtitles on the EtnoMedia YouTube channel. Learn more about the history of the series here.

Read more here about the International Day against Violence and Bullying at School, Including Cyberbullying.