BAKU, 5 February 2019 – On Safer Internet Day UNICEF is urging more efforts to enable children and young people in Azerbaijan to explore the exciting and informative digital world in safety and security, as new data indicates that for the 97.5 per cent of young people aged 15 to 24 years old who are online in Azerbaijan, online violence, cyberbullying and digital harassment are potential risks.
The call comes following a recent UNICEF global poll of young people, which received more than 1 million responses over five weeks, and suggestions from a series of student-led #ENDviolence Youth Talks held around the world. Through these initiatives, young people provided thoughtful responses about what they and their parents, teachers and policymakers could do to keep them safe, especially against bullying and cyber bullying.
“The internet provides enormous opportunities for children and young people to learn, to explore other cultures, meet new people, express their creativity and vision – but we also know there are risks in that exciting digital world – including bullying, discrimination, hate speech, exploitation and abuse,” said UNICEF Representative to Azerbaijan Edward Carwardine. “That’s why this Safer Internet Day, UNICEF is urging all those who care about our children’s safety online to play their part in making the digital world a safer, more inclusive world for every child.”
According to 2017 data from UNESCO on the prevalence of cyber bullying in high-income countries, the proportion of children and adolescents who are affected by cyber bullying ranges from 5 to 21 per cent, with girls appearing to be more likely to experience cyber bullying than boys.
Cyber bullying can cause profound harm as it can quickly reach a wide audience, and can remain accessible online indefinitely, virtually ‘following’ its victims online for life. Bullying and cyber bullying feed into each other, forming a continuum of damaging behaviour. Victims of cyber bullying are more likely to use alcohol and drugs and skip school than other students. They also are more likely to receive poor grades and experience low self-esteem and health problems. In extreme situations, cyber bullying has led to suicide.
In Azerbaijan, 98.3 per cent of girls aged between 15 and 24 years old are online, compared to 96.8 per cent of boys of the same age. The total percentage of young people online in Azerbaijan exceeds the global average of 70.6 per cent.
The online population in Azerbaijan is also getting younger, with 91.9 per cent of children under 15 years old online. While adolescents may be more exposed to cyber bullying than younger age groups, children are not immune from harmful content, sexual exploitation and abuse, and cyber bullying.
UNICEF Azerbaijan is highlighting simple ways to start keeping children and young people safe while in the digital world.
- Parents should be aware of where their children are surfing, who they are talking to online and what type of content they are accessing. It’s also important to talk openly to their children about some of the risks they may encounter in the digital world and let them know that if they experience bad behaviours online, they can tell their parents without fear of punishment.
- Teachers should encourage children to see the internet as a valuable tool for knowledge and communication, for creative expression and developing talents, while also enabling children who do encounter bad experiences online to come forward and seek help from adults. Online abusers take advantage of children's fear of speaking up about inappropriate behaviour to further exploit their victims.
- More investment by government in educating children – formally and non-formally – on how to keep themselves informed, engaged and safe online, including teaching children how to recognize and protect themselves from online dangers and misinformation; and making digital citizenship a core component of digital education.
But the first steps are the simplest, said Edward Carwardine. "Whether a parent, or relative, or teacher or youth worker, get to know the online habits of the children and young people in your life, stay alert to any sudden changes in their mood and let children and young people know they can talk to you about anything at any time.”
About ITU ICT Facts and Figures
Data about Internet penetration among children and young people come from the ITU ICT Facts and Figures 2017, which features end-2017 estimates for key telecommunication/ICT indicators.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.