x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

UAE-wide campaign to protect children from cyberbullying

More needs to be done to protect young people being tormented through the internet or on mobile phones, according to ICDL GCC Foundation, an organisation that promotes digital skills and cyber safety across the Gulf.

ABU DHABI // Pupils, parents and teachers are to be taught how to avoid torment caused by cyber bullies.

ICDL GCC Foundation, an organisation that promotes cyber safety across the Arabian Gulf, is linking up with government agencies for the campaign.

Statistics show cyber-bullying affects one in five children in the UK. In the US, the National Crime Prevention Council estimates almost 50 per cent of teenagers have been harassed online.

“While the [Arabian] Gulf lacks official statistics to evaluate the prevalence or extent of online abuses, the fact that the region has one of the world’s highest internet and mobile penetration levels raises its potential risk,” said Jamil Ezzo, director general of the foundation.

“Cyber-bullying is a very serious concern that could cause irreparable psychological damage, especially to young people in their formative years.

“In the GCC, the new generation are readily exposed to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, and social networking has become an extension of their ‘offline’ lives, which make them prone to online threats.”

The foundation is encouraging children to report incidents to parents or teachers.

Schools are also being urged to help stop cyber attacks by adopting an internet safety policy.

Police around the country have set up phone lines to report cyber-bullying.

In Abu Dhabi, residents can phone 02 512 7777; in Dubai, the number is 04 609 6944; and in Sharjah, 06 800 151.

jbell@thenational.ae