Latvian survey on parents' attitudes towards cyberbullying

  • Awareness
  • 25/11/2019
  • Latvian Safer Internet Centre

In Latvia, the "Bite Your Finger" campaign is organised by the Latvian Safer Internet Centre (SIC), mobile operator BITE, the Latvian Child Helpline 116111, the State Inspectorate for Protection of Children's Rights and the state police. As part of this campaign, a survey was conducted in the country about parents' perceptions of cyberbullying and its consequences on the children victims of it.

30 per cent of the calls received by the Latvian Child Helpline 116111 are about cases of cyberbullying involving children and teenagers. However, this figure is online the emerged part of the iceberg, as most cases of cyberbullying go unreported. Indeed, many parents still underestimate the negative impact cyberbullying can have on their children.

This is also evidenced by the data collected in the survey: 26 per cent of parents believe that, when a child is subject to cyberbullying, they will be depressed for some time, but once the situation is solved, everything returns to normal. Meanwhile, 23 per cent of parents are convinced that their child does not want to go to school due to escape their cyberbullying problem. Another 4 per cent said children easily forget about such incidents, which have no consequences on their development.

The survey results also show that more than half (57 per cent) of parents in Latvia would not help a child that is not theirs (such as their child's schoolmate or a neighbour's child) if they found out that this child was suffering from cyberbullying. 30 per cent said that they would not help because they lack the knowledge required, and 27 per cent of respondents said they do not want to take on the responsibilities of other parents. Although 43 per cent of parents said they would help another child in a cyberbullying situation, they would only engage in the situation if it became critical.

Amanda Vēja, representative of the Latvian Child Helpline 116111, said that if children have low self-esteem, additional emotional humiliation on the internet may affect them much stronger and make it more difficult for them to seek help on their own. She emphasised that children often do not make a clear distinction between what is happening in the real world and in the virtual world. For example, they do not believe the problems they face in the real world are also relevant in the digital environment. Amanda Vēja said: "So far, our experience has shown that parents engage in cyberbullying situations which involve other children only when their own child is involved in it. It is important not to underestimate such cases, even though these problems do not affect your own children". She added that after noticing emotional humiliation affecting another child on the internet, parents and other adults should take at least minimal steps, for example, inform the child's parents.

The head of the Latvian SIC, Maija Katkovska, emphasises that it is important to be aware of the fact that just one little step made at the right time may turn the situation in a completely different direction. She explained: "It is also understandable that an adult sometimes does not know how to act, yet instead of hoping that somebody else will take action for you, it is important to make the first step and consult with  organisations that specialise in such matters – like the Latvian SIC, for example". She added that a domino effect is typical in the internet environment; therefore, if we want to enhance responsible online habits, we should not look at the problem with blinders on, ignoring what is going on around the corner.

Find out more information about the work of the Latvian Safer Internet Centre (SIC) generally, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal, or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.

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