Cyber bullying: Nationwide Malaysian quest to design stronger strategies

AvantiKumar

Conundrum of cyberbullying vs resilience building

Photo: During launch of 2017 survey, a discussion on the conundrum of cyberbullying vs resilience building.

 

  A new effort to better understand cyber bullying has been launched in Malaysia in the form of a nationwide survey under Digi Telecommunications (Digi) DigiSAFE programme.

The aim is to uncover and better understand online bullying behaviour at secondary school level to help tighten resiliency strategies, said organisers from the DigiSAFE programme.

As cyber bullying behaviour can spread across generations and sectors including enterprise, this behaviour needs to be more rigorously addressed when it first emerges at school level.

The story of comprehensive mapping of online misbehaviour is one of the objectives of DigiSAFE's nationwide surveys, which started in 2010. During the inaugural national survey of almost 10,000 children from 460 schools, the need for more online safety guidance was emphasised

At the time, Digi's chief strategy and corporate affairs officer, Christian Thrane, said that based on the polls, 68 percent of school children have access to the internet at home. Of this, a significant number of them spend an average of eight hours a week on the internet and 68 percent used it primarily for social networking purpose.

"Beyond creating awareness, we've leveraged on our reach to students in 460 schools nationwide to better understand their usage and behavioural patterns, and knowledge of cyber safety," said Thrane.

When Malaysia's Education Blueprint set out to provide full internet access for 10,000 schools nationwide by the end of 2013, Digi, a part of the Telenor Group, repeated its call for the online safety of children.

Sizing the challenge

Speaking during Global Safer Internet Day in February 2014, Telenor Group's head of Asia operations and Digi chairman, Sigve Brekke said about 500 million children in emerging Asian markets will be accessing the internet via mobile in the next 10 years. "Within the next three years, this 'vulnerable demographic' will see 85 million children with online access, which includes Malaysian school children."

Released with digital security agency CyberSecurity Malaysia as one of the programme partners , DigiSAFE's 2014 edition of the national survey found that 83 percent of "Malaysian schoolchildren are vulnerable to online risks due to minimal protective actions."

That particular survey also cut through myths about the matter. Key findings included:

  • There is no indication that children from urban areas take a higher level of protective action as compared to those in rural areas.
  • It is revealed that the level of awareness does not necessarily translate to positive action. More than 40 percent of children who said that online safety is important continue to exercise low levels of online protection.
  • As many as 26 percent of all schoolchildren reported that they had been bullied online, with children aged 13 to 15 being bullied the most.
  • The level of online harassment is reportedly high at above 70 percent, especially for calling other children mean names, posting improper messages and inappropriate photos.
  • A worrying average 64 percent of children feel that sending improper SMSes, posting inappropriate photos, and pretending to be someone else is NOT cyber-bullying.

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