The annually published Global Advisor Cyberbullying Study by marketing company Ipsos has revealed some troubling statistics around cyberbullying, painting an especially worrying picture for South African parents.
For the purposes of the survey, cyberbullying is defined as when "a child or group of children (under the age of 18) intentionally intimidate, offend, threaten, or embarrass another child or group of children, specifically through the use of information technology, such as a website or chat room on the Internet, a cellular telephone, or another mobile device."
Also see: Parent's guide: How to identify and combat cyberbullying
Cyberbullying in the community
Interviewing 20,793 people from 28 countries, the 2018 study found that South Africa had the overall highest incidence of cyberbullying.
According to their data, more than half (54%) of South African parents know of a child in their community experiencing cyberbullying, a substantially larger percentage than the overall average of 33%.
Here's a look at the data for each country that participated:
Personal experience of cyberbullying
When it came to their own children, 25% of South African parents reported that their child had been a victim of cyberbullying. But in this case, South Africa is placed fifth. At 37%, India had the highest percentage of parents saying their child had been bullied online.
Globally this figure stands at 17%, which translates to 1 in 6 parents worldwide.
See the full list below:
Also see: Cyberbullying: 4 steps to protect your kids
Where it occurs
Answering the survey question "How do kids who have experienced cyberbullying experience the harassing behaviour?", 65% of parents said it was via social media.
In South Africa, 66% of parents said social media was a cyberbully's favourite platform, with mobile phones coming second at 47%.
Other means of communication listed included online messaging, online chat rooms, and email.
Who's doing it?
Shockingly, the study showed that in the majority of cases (51%), cyberbullying was carried out by a child's classmate.
For South African parents, this percentage was 67%. Other perpetrators included other youths who were strangers to the victims (29%), familiar adults (15%) and unknown adults (14%).
What you can do about it
In SA, the Protection from Harassment Act is used to deal with digital and physical harassment, however, there are no specific laws that address cyberbullying.
Under the Protection from Harassment Act, victims will be able to obtain an interim protection order from the courts, meaning that further harassment could lead to an arrest.
In the cases where the harassers are unknown to the victims, the Act also forces digital service providers to hand over the personal information of the perpetrators in order for authorities to find and charge them.
There are no fail-safe measures to ensure your child does not experience cyberbullying ,these tips, provided by Bitdefender, may prove helpful in keeping danger at bay:
- Never share personal information online, regardless of whether it's with friends or strangers.
- Never arrange face-to-face meetings with online 'friends'.
- Nurture a policy of honesty with your child so that they feel comfortable talking to you about people or situations they are unsure of.
Has your child ever experienced cyberbullying? Tell us your story by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org and we could publish your letter. If you'd like to stay anonymous let us know.
Share your story with us, and we could publish your mail. Anonymous contributions are welcome.