With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for victims of cyberbullying.
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Cyberbullying is verbal or psychological harassment carried out via electronic means of communication, usually repetitively and mostly via social media. It can take various forms such as insults, threats and intimidation, gossip, exclusion, stalking or identity theft. The internet offers anonymity and a sense of impunity to perpetrators, and aggravates the victimisation, as the harmful content is spread instantly to a far wider audience. While cyberbullying also affects adults, it occurs at an alarming rate among children and young people.
One problem with cyberbullying is that information remains online for a long time and can be difficult to remove. New EU data protection rules introduced a ‘right to be forgotten’ that allows victims to request the erasure of their personal data. There is no specific EU law on cyberbullying but some aspects are covered, for instance expressions of racism or xenophobia or sexual harassment of a victim under 18. Europe is also funding action on the ground to prevent violence against women, children and young people (including online). To protect children and teenagers and arm them with the skills and tools they need to use the internet safely and responsibly, the EU has adopted a Better Internet for Kids strategy and co-funds Safer Internet Centres in all EU countries (forming a pan-European network – Insafe). Each national centre operates a helpline, providing advice and assistance for children and teenagers confronted with harmful online content or conduct (cyberbullying is the main reason for contacting helplines).
- Network of Safer Internet Centres, links to services in your country,https://www.betterinternetforkids.eu/web/portal/policy/insafe-inhope
- Better Internet for Kids, ‘Cyberbullying revisited’, 2017, https://www.betterinternetforkids.eu/web/portal/practice/awareness/detail?articleId=1733931
- European Parliament, study ‘Cyberbullying among young people’, 2016, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2016/571367/IPOL_STU(2016)571367_EN.pdf