School violence and bullying including cyberbullying is widespread and affects a significant number of children and adolescents.
UNESCO Member States declared the first Thursday of November, the International Day against Violence and Bullying at School Including Cyberbullying, recognizing that school-related violence in all its forms is an infringement of children and adolescents’ rights to education and to health and well-being. It calls upon Member States, UN partners, other relevant international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations, individuals and other stakeholders to help promote, celebrate and facilitate the international day.
CELEBRATIONS IN 2021
This year we will mark the International Day on Thursday 4 November 2021 under the theme “Tackling cyberbullying and other forms of online violence involving children and young people”.
As countries are responding to COVID-19 at varying stages, the lives and education of children and young people across the world have increasingly moved online. Compared to the prior year, children’s screen time had doubled by May 2020, and while online access presents opportunities for connection and learning, it is also increasingly putting children and young people at the risk of online violence.
Although global data is limited, evidence shows that cyberbullying has been on the rise in various regions during the pandemic. In Europe, 44% of children who were cyberbullied prior to COVID-19 reported that it had increased during lockdown. Data from several countries also reveals that children, in particular girls at the age of 11 to 13 years, are increasingly at risk of being targeted by criminal sex predators. In the USA, 98% of online predators have never met their targets in real life.
Although online violence is not limited to school premises, the education system has an important role to play in addressing online safety, digital citizenship and technology use. Formal education can and should play a key role in providing children and young people with the knowledge and skills to identify online violence and protect themselves from its different forms, whether perpetrated by peers or adults.
Online violence including cyber bullying has a negative effect on academic achievement, mental health, and quality of life of students. Children who are frequently bullied are nearly three times as likely to feel left out at school as those who are not. They are also twice as likely to miss out on school and have a higher tendency to leave formal education after finishing secondary school.
This Day calls on global awareness of the problem of online violence and cyberbullying, its consequences and the need to put an end to it. It calls on the attention of students, parents, members of the educational community, education authorities and a range of sectors and partners, including the tech industry, to encourage everyone to take a part in preventing online violence for the safety and wellbeing of children and youth.