UNICEF celebrates 70th Anniversary through a Youth Forum on cyberbullying
End Violence Online
PODGORICA, 16 December 2016 – On UNICEF’s 70th anniversary, in an amphitheatre filled with representatives of the government, international community, media, civil and private sector, young people of Montenegro discussed about a topic which they say affects them the most when they are online – cyberbullying.
In order to build a society fit to children, one of the things we need to do is to listen to girls and boys and to develop and implement adequate policies based on what they tell us. For this reason, we decided to let Montenegro’s youth take over the celebration of UNICEF’s 70th birthday.
At the beginning of the young people’s debate, Lana shared her primary school experience when a fake social media profile was set up under her name.
"I never found out who did it. For five years I kept reporting this profile to Facebook when they finally closed it down. I did not report it to authorities, but I spoke to people close to me whom I trust. This was a negative experience, but its consequences were not as hard as the ones of some of the other experiences we heard about. Misuse of private photos on social media profiles is also a common experience and for this reason, it is crucial not to give private data online to anyone“, Lana emphasized.
Roma high school student Erika warned about the online discrimination of minorities.
My friend has some very bad experiences, as he was insulted online only because he is Roma. We just want to be your friends.
The Global Kids Online research, which was conducted in Montenegro this year, shows that one in three children had an upsetting experience online during the last year. These experiences are more common among boys than girls and their number significantly increases with age.
Children aged 9-17 identified violence and fights as the key contents which disturb them online. One in five children watched online a fight of peers which was filmed and posted by a friend; one in six commented this video offline and 7 per cent published their comments online. During the debate, young people talked a lot about such experiences of scheduling fights through the internet, their video-recording and publishing online.
In today’s digital world, online and offline violence are often intertwined in a vicious circle.
Therefore, high school students concluded that it is necessary to build a culture of non-violent conflict resolution and to work, at the same time, on increasing the digital literacy of citizens starting from the early years.
Members of the audiences joined the debate with many interesting remarks.
It is well-known that the user is the first line of defence and I advise you to be careful online. If bad things happen, talk to your parents and teachers and, together with them, come to the nearest police station.
Nataša, mother of two children, pointed out to the need to improve digital literacy of parents and teachers.
"Parents are often unaware of the dangers and risks of the internet and they don’t want to learn and educate themselves about what happens online. I believe education is the best way to keep these things under control. Of course, schools need to be part of it, as power lies in the knowledge“, Nataša said.
Lana agreed with her: “It is crucial to connect children, parents and teachers, so that they are clear whom they can ask for help“.
This was the first youth forum organized within the #EndViolenceOnline campaign in cooperation with the NGO Centre for Child Rights. The debate was based on the participatory research conducted by young people in high schools in Podgorica, Cetinje, Berane and Bar in cooperation with the University of Sheffield, UK, University of Montenegro and Ipsos research agency.
Montenegro’s Government and UNICEF launched the #EndViolenceOnline campaign in July 2016 to promote digital safety and digital literacy in Montenegro.