Cyberbullying: How to Deal With It?

In France, insults, mockery, racist, sexist, or homophobic hate messages have been or are a daily reality for four out of ten internet users. Among 18-25 year-olds, this number even reaches 60%. School bullying no longer stops at the school gates but invades the privacy of their own rooms. Finding a solution or imagining it coming to an end often seems impossible, to the extent that nearly half of the cyberbullying victims have considered ending their lives. However, many solutions exist, and here are some of them.

| A Comprehensive Plan Against Cyberbullying

The suicide of Nicolas, a 15-year-old victim of school bullying, and the “tsunami of testimonies” that followed have put the issue of cyberbullying in the spotlight for this back-to-school season. The government unveiled a plan last Wednesday to combat this scourge. The first and arguably most important measures include the automatic referral to the prosecutor in cases of reported harassment, thanks to a dedicated platform linking the National Education system and the Justice system.

Stricter sanctions are planned, including transferring the bullying student to another school, confiscating phones, excluding them from social media, and legal measures such as judicial control with a no-contact order with the victim. For “less severe cases,” a citizenship course with a module on bullying may be prescribed, and legal measures can promote a peaceful dialogue between the bully and the victim.

The government also proposes prevention and detection measures that were previously nonexistent. Starting from kindergarten, students will receive lessons on empathy, respect for others, and tolerance. In addition, self-assessment questionnaires will be implemented for all students from 3rd to 9th grade to identify cases of bullying and intervene promptly. A preliminary version will be offered to students on November 9th.

The government also promotes awareness and training for all educational stakeholders to inform them about the risks involved and help them better prevent bullying. This training also extends to adults working with minors in other contexts, such as sports or summer camps. Furthermore, a dedicated anti-bullying unit will be established in each regional education authority, and academic anti-bullying teams will be formed. The emergency helpline number, 3018, will become the sole reporting number and will be accompanied by an application to streamline the reporting and alert process.

In these situations, it is also possible (and recommended) to file a complaint against the harassers. If you wish to learn more, do not hesitate to consult this specialized website or one of the others mentioned below.

| What Tools Are Available to Combat Cyberbullying?

The CNIL (French Data Protection Authority) states that “when facing harassment on social media, two golden rules should be followed: first, do not seek revenge, and second, immediately block access to your social media accounts.” however, this often falls short of being sufficient.

Whether you are a victim or a witness of online harassment, tools exist to help or get you assistance. In addition to 3020, the toll-free helpline for those experiencing school bullying, the e-enfance association has developed the 3018 application in collaboration with the state. It is free and confidential, allowing users to communicate via chat or call with professionals and also serves as a digital safe to store evidence of harassment (screenshots, photos, or videos).

The Pharos platform, with which we collaborate for online content moderation, allows the reporting of illicit content on platforms to authorities. This means that cases of bullying can be reported, and messages indicating suicidal tendencies can be reported to the police, who will immediately contact the family.

Other applications and tools, such as the “point de contact” website for anonymously reporting disturbing content, the “Kolibri” app that facilitates connections and allows young people to share their emotions, or the Twitter account @stopfisha, which fights against revenge porn, exist and are competent in addressing these issues.

If you are a victim of bullying, these tools can help, but explaining the situation to a trusted person and seeking help, as difficult as it may seem, remains the best option. The feelings of loneliness, terror, and constant anxiety caused by cyberbullying should not be managed alone, especially at a young age.

As a parent, you also have an important role in raising awareness and providing support. People often assume that their child may be a victim of bullying without considering that they could be a perpetrator or a witness. However, offering digital tools enables such behaviors, making proper education essential. To learn how to respond better if your child is facing bullying, you can visit the e-enfance website.

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"Cyberbullying: How to Deal With It?"