Safer Internet Day: UNICEF calls for concerted action to prevent bullying and harassment for the 99.8 per cent of young people online in the United Kingdom

Home > Media Contacts and Press Releases > Safer Internet Day: Unicef calls for concerted action to prevent bullying and harassment for the 99.8 per cent of young people online in the United Kingdom

5 February 2019- UNICEF warned today of the dangers posed by online violence, cyberbullying and digital harassment for the 99.8 per cent of young people aged 15 to 24 years old who are online in the United Kingdom, and called for concerted action to tackle and prevent violence against children and young people online.

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 what they are saying is clear: The Internet has become a kindness desert,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “That’s why this Safer Internet Day, UNICEF is inviting everyone, young and old, to be kind online, and calling for greater action to make the Internet a safer place for everyone.”

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.

In the United Kingdom, 100 per cent of girls aged between 15 and 24 years old are online, compared to 99.7 per cent of boys of the same age. Globally, 70.6 per cent of the world’s young people between 15 and 24 are online.

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 damaging behaviour. Victims of cyberbullying are more likely to use alcohol and drugs 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 the private sector to put children and young people at the centre of digital policies,” said Fore. “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.”

###

Notes to Editors:

Learn more about online safety here.

Learn more about UNICEF’s #ENDviolence global campaign here.

About ITU ICT Facts and Figures

Data about Internet penetration among children and young people come from the ITU ICT Facts and Figures 2017, which features end-2017 estimates for key telecommunication/ICT indicators.

For more information, please contact:

Unicef UK Media Team, 0207 375 6030, media@unicef.org.uk

Emily Craigie, 0207 375 6058, ecraigie@unicef.org.uk

About Unicef

Unicef is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

Unicef UK raises funds to protect children in danger, transform their lives and build a safer world for tomorrow’s children. As a registered charity we raise funds through donations from individuals, organisations and companies and we lobby and campaign to keep children safe. Unicef UK also runs programmes in schools, hospitals and with local authorities in the UK.

For more information please visit unicef.org.uk

Follow UNICEF UK on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.