The youth organisation Pro Juventute has found that that one in five teens has been bullied online and most don’t know where to turn to for help. Bullying-related calls to its hotline have also jumped, prompting a national awareness campaign.
Pro Juventute’s emergency “147” telephone hotline, designed to serve young people in need, has reported a significant increase in calls from troubled teens who have become the targets of name-calling, teasing and verbal abuse via the internet.
Cyber-bullying is particularly threatening to teens because it continues away from school, is not monitored by adults and can often be conducted anonymously.
In some cases, such bullying has led to teen insomnia, depression and even suicide. Pro Juventute notes that the worldwide teen suicide rate among those who regularly use online platforms is twice as high as among those who do not.
According to Stephan Oetiker, director of Pro Juventute, teachers in Swiss schools have cited an urgent need for in-class cyber-bullying awareness and prevention campaigns for teens.
“Our campaign shows that cyber-bullying is a serious problem,” he said. “Every day, Pro Juventute experts are confronted with the fact that young people, parents and teachers are overwhelmed by the subject and want urgent assistance.”
In response, the nationwide “Stop Cyber-Mobbing” campaign will be conducted via billboards, television adverts, a Facebook page and information sessions that will be conducted in all Swiss schools.
According to Pro Juventute, half of all Swiss people surveyed don’t know what cyber-bullying is. In French-speaking Switzerland, only a quarter have heard of it.
According to a 2011 World Health Organization study on internet safety, 13.6 per cent of teens worldwide have experienced cyber-bullying. It concluded that bullying via the internet posed a clear health threat to teens worldwide, alongside predatory online actions by adults and teens’ poor judgment regarding what information to put on the Web.
“At the least, member states should consider fostering awareness of the risks of sending personal information and photos online through school curricula and/or meetings between parents and teachers,” the study noted.