International cyberviolence survey shows interesting results

As part of the Erasmus+ international project CyberSafe MOOC “Building teachers’ competence about cyber violence against girls”, the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Ljubljana conducted a survey among headteachers in four European regions: Slovenia, Estonia, Northern Ireland and Crete (Greece). The online questionnaire researched the incidence of cyberviolence among 13 to 15-year-old pupils as recognised by headteachers.

Date 2021-11-12 Author Slovenian Safer Internet Centre Section awareness Topic cyberbullying, media literacy/education Audience children and young people, parents and carers, teachers, educators and professionals
School boy being bullied

The survey investigated which forms of cyberviolence are more easily perceived by headteachers, how they respond to cyberviolence, which actions are usually taken in schools, what strategies such schools have to prevent and address cyberviolence, and what are the headteachers’ attitudes towards cyberviolence. 

Can headteachers detect cyberviolence in their schools?

With the exception of Northern Ireland, headteachers in the other three surveyed areas tend to detect traditional violence in their schools more easily than cyberviolence.

In Northern Ireland, cyberviolence is instead frequently detected by headteachers, as the majority of them (35 per cent) reported noticing cyberviolence more than once a month, and a further 30 per cent mentioned acknowledging cyberviolence episodes more than once a week. In Crete (Greece), the situation is the opposite, with the majority of headteachers (38 per cent) detecting cyberviolence instances in their schools more than once a year, and the same percentage disclosed detecting cyberviolence only once a year or less. Similarly, headteachers in Slovenia and Estonia acknowledge cyberviolence less often as, for both countries, more than half of them observe cyberviolence in their schools only more than once a year.

Headteachers were additionally asked how often they observed certain kinds of cyberviolence in their schools. The situation appeared to be very similar in all four participating countries. Namely, out of the three most frequently observed types of cyberviolence, there were at least two in all four countries, as these seem to be the most common among students: online threats of violence, spreading of rumours, online exclusion.

The table below summarises the key results from the online survey conducted on headteachers and highlights the most frequently observed types of cyberviolence:

Table collecting data from the survey among headteachers. Credits: Slovenian Safer Internet Centre

Credits: Slovenian Safer Internet Centre

How do headteachers react to cyberviolence incidents?

The vast majority of the surveyed headteachers take action when they perceive cyberviolence incidents happening in their school. However, the actions taken vary substantially among countries.

In Slovenia, the most common course of action is to work with the students themselves. For example, one teacher might dedicate certain lessons – in which the whole class of pupils has to participate – to preventing and tackling cyberviolence, or the school counsellor is invited to talk to the students and raise awareness about cyberviolence.

Differently, parents and carers do get involved in Crete and Estonia: the most common course of action is to inform and/or invite the parents or carers of the affected students to a meeting with the class teacher or the headteacher. In Estonia, the school also takes measures to ensure that any inappropriate content is removed from the internet.

In Northern Ireland, however, the approach is quite different: the most common course of action is to support the victim after the incident of cyberviolence.

Find out more about the work of the Slovenian Safer Internet Centre, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services, or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.

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