UNICEF poll: More than a third of young people in 30 countries report being a victim of online bullying

U-Report highlights prevalence of cyberbullying and its impact on young people

06 September 2019
End Bullying
UNICEF Viet Nam\Truong Viet Hung

NEW YORK, HA NOI, 4 September 2019 – One in three young people in 30 countries said they have been a victim of online bullying, with one in five reporting having skipped school due to cyberbullying and violence, in a new poll released today by UNICEF and the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on Violence against Children. According to this report, 21 per cent of the respondents in Viet Nam said they have been a victim of online bullying and most (75 per cent) are not aware of a helpline or service that they can turn to if they are being a victim of cyberbullying or violence online.

Speaking out anonymously through the youth engagement tool U-Report, almost three-quarters of young people also said social networks, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter, are the most common place for online bullying.

“Connected classrooms mean school no longer ends once a student leaves class, and, unfortunately, neither does schoolyard bullying,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

“Improving young people’s education experience means accounting for the environment they encounter online as well as offline.”

Through the poll, young people were asked via SMS and instant messaging technology a series of questions relating to their experiences of online bullying and violence, where it most frequently happens, and who they think is responsible for ending it. Some 32 per cent of those polled believe governments should be responsible for ending cyberbullying, 31 per cent said young people and 29 per cent said internet companies. Regarding this issue, 44 percent of young people in Viet Nam think that it’s their responsibility to end cyberbullying while 30 per cent believe that it should be Government’s task.

“One of the key messages that we can clearly see from their opinions is the need for children and young people involvement and partnering: When asked who should be responsible for ending cyberbullying, the opinions were equally divided between governments, internet service providers (private sector) and young people themselves,” said Najat Maalla Mjid, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on Violence against Children. “We are in this together and we must share the responsibility in partnership.”

More than 170,000 U-Reporters aged 13-24 years old participated in the poll including young people from Albania, Bangladesh, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, France, Gambia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jamaica, Kosovo, Liberia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Moldova, Montenegro, Myanmar, Nigeria, Romania, Sierra Leone, Trinidad & Tobago, Ukraine, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

The poll results challenge the notion that cyberbullying among classmates is a uniquely high-income issue. For example, 34 per cent of respondents in sub-Saharan Africa said they had been a victim of online bullying. Some 39 per cent said they knew about private online groups inside the school community where children share information about peers for the purpose of bullying.

As part of UNICEF’s campaign to #ENDviolence in and around schools, children and young people from around the world drafted an #ENDviolence Youth Manifesto in 2018, calling on governments, teachers, parents and each other to help end violence and ensure students feel safe in and around school – including calling for protection online.

“All over the world, young people– in both high and low-income countries – are telling us that they are being bullied online, that it is affecting their education, and that they want it to stop,” said Fore. “As we mark the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we must ensure children’s rights are at the forefront of digital safety and protection policies.”

To end online bullying and violence in and around schools, UNICEF and partners are calling for urgent action from all sectors in the following areas:

  • Implementation of policies to protect children and young people from cyberbullying and bullying.
  • Establishment and equipment of national helplines to support children and young people.
  • Advancement of ethical standards and practices of social network providers specifically in regards to the collection, information and management of data. 
  • Collection of better, disaggregated evidence about children and young people’s online behaviour to inform policy and guidance.
  • Training for teachers and parents to prevent and respond to cyberbullying and bullying, particularly for vulnerable groups.
BTS 💜 show the power of love and kindness | UNICEF

🏫Trường học thường là nơi để chúng ta gặp được những người bạn tri kỉ. Mặc dù vậy, cứ 1 trong 3 học sinh trong độ tuổi từ 13-15 đã từng trải qua bắt nạt. Nhiều bạn có thể gặp khó khăn khi đến trường. 💜Đó là lí do BTS kêu gọi các bạn trẻ giúp một ngày mới tươi đẹp hơn bởi lòng nhân ái, như một phần trong Chiến dịch của UNICEF để #chấm_dứt_bạo_lực trong và ngoài nhà trường. ✊Hãy cùng tham gia với chúng tôi! Để lại một lời nhắn tốt đẹp cho ai đó, ở ngoài đời hay trên mạng, và hãy chia sẻ cho mọi người. 🏫School is often the place where many of us meet our best friends. Yet, with 1 in 3 students aged 13-15 experiencing bullying, for many young people school can be tough. 💜That’s why BTS are calling on young people to brighten someone’s day with kindness, as part of UNICEF’s campaign to #ENDviolence in and around schools. ✊Join us! Leave a kind note for someone, either in real life or on the internet, and share it for others to see.

Posted by UNICEF Viet Nam - Quỹ Nhi Đồng Liên Hợp Quốc on Monday, July 29, 2019

Click here to read UNICEF Poll's results around the world


Notes to Editors:

UNICEF works around the world to end violence in and around schools. These efforts include the organization’s #ENDviolence campaign and Safe to Learn -- a partnership between UNICEF, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), UNESCO, other members of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, and UNGEI.

This month, as many children head back to school, and in response to UNICEF’s #ENDviolence Youth Manifesto, UNICEF is calling on parents to help prevent and #ENDviolence. Learn more here.

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

For more information about UNICEF and its work, visit: www.unicef.org

Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook

About UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on Violence against Children

The SRSG on Violence against Children is a global independent advocate for the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against children and ensuring follow-up to the recommendations of the UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence against Children. The SRSG acts as a bridge builder and a catalyst of actions in all region, and across sectors and settings where violence against children may occur. The SRSG mobilizes action and political support to maintain momentum around this agenda, promote the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

About U-Report

U-Report is a free social messaging tool that allows anyone from anywhere in the world to speak out on the issues they care about. UNICEF and partners developed the platform to capture a range of voices on critical development issues. U-Report encourages citizen-led development, facilitates responses to humanitarian emergencies and magnifies local voices globally to create positive change.          

Adolescent and young people can join the platform by SMS or on social media (Facebook, Whatsapp or Viber) allowing them to respond to polls, report concerns, support child rights and work to improve their communities. Currently, there are more than 7 million U-Reporters are present in over 60 countries.     

This poll was made possible by the many thousands of children and young people around the world who actively engaged with UNICEF as U-Reporters and participated in the poll. The poll was conducted in June 2019 and answered by more than 170,000 respondents in 30 countries.

For more information visit www.ureport.in 

For more information, please contact:

  • Louis Vigneault-Dubois, UNICEF Việt Nam +84-4-38500241; +84-966539673; email: lvigneault@unicef.org
  • Nguyễn Thị Thanh Hương, UNICEF Việt Nam, 84-4-38500225; +84-904154678; email: ntthuong@unicef.org

Media contacts

Mr Louis Vigneault-Dubois
Chief of Communication and Advocacy
Tel: +84 (024) 3850 0100
Tel: +84 (0)96 6539 673
Ms Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong
Advocacy and Communications Specialist
Tel: +84 (024) 38500225
Tel: +84 (0)904154678


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 https://www.unicef.org/vietnam

Follow UNICEF on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter