MIL-OSI Europe: Briefing – Cyberbullying among young people: Laws and policies in selected Member States – 13-06-2024

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Source: European Parliament

Cyberbullying is a growing phenomenon and a significant issue for young people across Europe and indeed the world. Unlike ‘real-world’ bullying which ends when the victim’s situation changes, such as when school ends, cyberbullying can continue for its victims at any time. Cyberbullying can reach victims through social media, text messages, false information or images spread through various methods, and can be relentless. The ubiquity of electronic devices means children and young people are more digitally connected than ever before. The scope for children to become victims of online aggression and indeed to engage in bullying behaviour is wide. In addition, an even more worrying aspect is the exposure of children and young people to harmful material or their coercion into providing sexual images of themselves. The increase in young people’s connectivity corresponds with the rise in volume of online child sexual abuse material (CSAM) and the growth in the number of cases of minors approached online in what is known as ‘sextortion’. Victims often feel powerless, worthless and isolated and seldom report the abuse to parents or teachers. In some cases, it can lead the victim to substance abuse, self-harm and even suicide. Legislators are trying to keep pace with the ever-changing environment. While policies at European Union (EU) and international level are aimed at preventing cyberbullying, there have been calls for stronger EU action to prevent this form of online abuse. There are EU initiatives that address elements of the issue, but there is currently no EU-wide anti-online bullying law.

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