Every third child is a victim of cyberbullying

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Survey: Every third child has been a victim of cyberbullying

According to a recent study by the Techniker Krankenkasse (TK), one in three young people has been the victim of cyberbullying. While children used to be teased on the playground or in the classroom, bullying attacks are increasingly taking place virtually online. Due to the prevailing anonymity of the Internet, the victims can hardly defend themselves. Parents are usually powerless against this phenomenon. The slander often has psychological and physical consequences for the children.

Katrin S. (14) suddenly finds private pictures of herself in the Facebook web interface. Serious insults and threats are written underneath. Many of their classmates press the "Like" button. The result: Katrin no longer wants to go to school, seems to have returned and feels seriously injured in her self-esteem. Such an incident is no longer an isolated case. According to a study by the Techniker Krankenkasse (TK), every third young person in Germany has been the victim of internet bullying. In many cases, classmates make threats, insults or slander on the Internet. A large majority of the class association sees this as "normal" or even actively supports cyberbullying. "What used to be considered a class beating comes in the 21st century as cyberbullying," said a spokesman for the fund at the presentation of the study on Tuesday in Hamburg. Virtually, the children and adolescents are “deliberately attacking each other” on the Internet, as the health insurance company warned. In the course of the study, experts commissioned the fund in one year.

According to the study, threats and insults to victims are made primarily when bullying on the Internet. 18 percent of the young people surveyed stated this. Another field is the "bad slander" in a good 13 percent of cases. Eight percent said that someone had used their identity before and three percent of the children said that emails or photos had been passed on to third parties in an unauthorized manner.

The acting students are mostly not aware of the scope of their deed. Many young people state that "it is just a joke," reports Gritli Bertram, a social worker from Hanover. Such an approach is relevant under criminal law. According to the study, every tenth survey respondent has already bullied on the web. One in five said he thought it possible to actively bully himself if he or she thought it necessary.

Insults and slander on the Internet can have serious consequences for those affected. One in five victims said they felt “desperate and helpless” after such a bullying attack. One in three said he felt emotionally hurt and one in two was "angry" with the perpetrators. The consequences are not only of a psychological nature but also show up physically. Six percent said they suffer from symptoms such as headache or abdominal pain due to the abuse. Since then, 18 percent have found it difficult to fall asleep or wake up again and again at night. "Children often suffer massively from the abuse, some of which continue in the real world," reports the social worker from practice. "The consequences can be depressive episodes or even suicide".

Due to the rapid spread of the Internet in German households, cyberbullying has also increased continuously. Almost 100 percent (99) said they use the Internet through an Internet connection from home. 90 percent reported that they regularly visit social networks such as "Facebook" or "Schüler VZ". 66 percent use such services almost every day. 59 percent of respondents also use the web for school and 54 percent surf with their friends or siblings. Almost two thirds of young people also use the Internet on their cell phones.

According to the study authors, the results of the survey show that "offenders can access the World Wide Web to the greatest possible extent." Because only 17 percent of children and adolescents are blocked by security for certain pages. In every second respondent, parents influence the time used (58 percent) or content, at least in conversations or upbringing. "If a child withdraws more or more or shuns school, parents should seek a conversation and talk about solution strategies together," advises the teacher. The survey was carried out by the opinion and research institute Forsa on behalf of the health insurance company. (sb)

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Image: Gerd Altmann, Pixelio.de

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