In real life, bullying behaviour stops at some point and the humiliating or aggressive situation ends. However, online harassment can be endless – reaching us in our own room, on our personal tablet, on the laptop in the living room, or on the phone while having a drink in the kitchen.
According to studies conducted by Save the Children Romania, 7 out of 10 children have witnessed some form of online aggression, and 1 in 2 children were themselves victims. According to emotional health experts, children directly involved in episodes of cyberbullying (as victims, abusers or witnesses) show more anger, fear and frustration, to the point of diminishing cognitive resources for learning, and even turning violent behaviour into the most frequently used problem-solving strategy.
It is important for adults to find time to understand how to recognise this form of bullying and how to react appropriately based on the situation and age of the child involved. Therefore, Save the Children Romania, through the Internet Class programme, invited teachers and parents to an interactive and constructive online debate titled How can we recognise, prevent and combat cyberbullying?.
Taking into account the experiences of Save the Children, through conducting research and anti-bullying programmes in dozens of schools and high schools, the Ministry of Education recruited specialists from the organisation to a working group. In this group, they contributed significantly to the development of methodological rules for law enforcement that prevents and combats bullying in spaces intended for education. On 11 June 2020, the Methodological norms for the application of the law against psychological violence-bullying were published in the Official Gazette.
The panellists in the online debate concerning cyberbullying were Dana Rogoz (mother, influencer and actress), Răzvan Deaconescu (teacher at the Faculty of Automation and Computers, UPB) and Mihaela Dinu (Clinical Psychologist at Save the Children). The discussion covered the following topics:
- Who are the children most likely to become victims of cyberbullying, and how can this be prevented or reduced?
- What new forms of cyberbullying have emerged in recent years and which ones are illegal?
- What are the consequences of cyberbullying on a child's psychological development and how do we encourage them to seek the help of trusted adults?
- What are the steps a teacher or parent should take to help victims, witnesses, and abusers in a cyberbullying situation?
The debate was moderated by Gabriela Alexandrescu, Executive President, Save the Children Romania, who also commented:
We all agree that school should be a place where every child and every teacher feels safe. In order for this goal to become a daily reality in the lives of students, and taking into account the concrete experience of Save the Children, by conducting research and anti-bullying and cyberbullying programmes in dozens of schools and high schools in Bucharest, the Ministry of Education and Research adopted a vital normative act that will allow schools to create flexible and active mechanisms to prevent and combat various forms of violence between students, directly or online. It is worth mentioning that future action groups will benefit from the participation of teachers, children and their parents, which will allow everyone to contribute to a positive school climate.
Find out more about the work of the Romanian Safer Internet Centre, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services – or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.