Latest helpline trends reveal drop in cyberbullying

The Insafe network of helplines collects data about the types of calls that they receive and this is analysed every three months to look at trends and new and emerging issues. The latest helpline trends reveal a drop in cyberbullying.

The most recent data collection covered the period from July – September 2015 inclusive and saw 9,567 contacts which all related to online issues. The helplines do amazing work in a constantly changing field. Keeping up to date with some of the latest apps, platforms and challenges faced by young people when they go online is a constant battle. However, in order to maintain the trust and credibility that they need to have with young people, staff embrace the challenge and regularly share experiences in order to provide the best possible service that they can.

  • The number of calls concerning cyberbullying has reduced again during this reporting period and is now at the lowest level for the past three years. Reasons for the apparent decline are being discussed at present, but one thought is that helplines are better at identifying the specific issue which a caller is getting in touch about. Cyberbullying could be part of several of the categories which are identified in the graph above including abuse of privacy, sexting, online reputation, racist, and so on.
  • Despite this reduction, cyberbullying is still the most common reason that helplines were contacted. Love/relationships/sexuality (online) remains the second most common reason for contacting a helpline and this shows a rise of almost two percentage points on the previous quarter. This also represents a steady rise over the previous four reporting periods. It is important to note that research is suggesting that young people (and particularly young girls) feel under real pressure to look or behave in a certain way as this infographic from Common Sense Media illustrates.
  • Sextortion has remained a concern with helplines reporting significant numbers of contacts about this. For example, one helpline noted that 30 per cent of their calls were related to sextortion. It was also noted that many of these reports are made using the helpline's Facebook site which is perhaps seen as a ‘low-threshold' way to communicate this type of issue. The helpline noted that it may be worth considering this approach in more detail with regards to the future.
The obvious next steps are to begin a debate about the effectiveness of awareness raising around some of these key issues which can help to address problems before they get out of hand. There is a wealth of excellent resources created by the European network of Safer Internet Centres which can be accessed via the resource gallery on the new Better Internet for Kids portal
 
Additionally, find out more, including contact details for national helplines, at http://helplines.betterinternetforkids.eu/.

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