Bengaluru: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has placed India at the third spot in Asia in cyber bullying targeted at children. According to the survey, 53% of the total population of children between the ages of eight and 17 are victims of bullying on the internet, putting the country only behind China (70%) and Singapore (58%).
The survey, which covered children from 25 countries, stresses on awareness of parents to keep track of their wards’ internet usage. According to a child rights activist and director of Child Rights Trust (CRT), Nagasimha G. Rao, children getting exposed to social media without proper monitoring by elders has led to many such incidents in the city.
He said, “The CRT deals with at least three such cases a week, with parents seeking help rather than the students. The most recent victim, a seventh standard girl student from a city school, was forced to share her personal photos with a stranger she met on Facebook after he started sending vulgar messages to her. The parents noticed changes in her behaviour and approached CRT. Students should be aware of how to use social media and internet in a productive manner. Teaching them to avoid clicking on random pop-ups and training them to recognise genuine content and people online is essential.”
Surbhi S., a teacher, too blamed pop-ups, which redirect the gullible to porn sites, for the problem. She recalled an instance during her smart class session when a digital encyclopaedia page automatically redirected her to a porn site, embarrassing her in front of students. “That was an eye-opener, and my colleagues and I found that it should be blocked at the school network. How can this be done at home effectively is the sustaining concern,” she said.
Asked why the trend is on the rise, Rajesh Maurya, Regional Vice-President (India & SAARC), Fortinet, a cybersecurity company, said lack of parent awareness was the prime reason for the problem. “As the Internet, particularly mobile broadband, becomes more accessible and affordable, more children are going online for longer periods. Parents need to be more aware of the dangers lurking on the internet,” he said.