Image of child and computer by Moondance from Pixabay

Cyberbullying in and around school: Stop Hesitating, Take Action!

Korean teenager, Yeon-seo, considers how to tackle one of the most pernicious threats to students.

24 May, 2023

"Cyberbullying" is not only a serious social issue in South Korea, but also globally recognised. With the increasing prevalence of smartphones among children and adolescents, their online activities have exploded, allowing them to exchange information and interact in virtual spaces even with people they do not know.  

Cyberbullying can occur regardless of time and place and can escalate into various forms of violence, due to the anonymity provided by the virtual environment.  

Various forms of cyberbullying occur in the context of school, such as a group of students inviting a few individuals to a chat room and subjecting them to severe verbal abuse, or maliciously editing and distributing someone's photo in a way that induces sexual humiliation.  

Other forms include cyberstalking and the dissemination of personal information. These are just a few examples of the diverse manifestations of cyberbullying in school that are occurring in reality. 

Victims of cyberbullying experience three main types of suffering: 

  1. They endure psychological pain, which can lead to depression and suicidal thoughts due to the harassment, humiliation, and threats they face in the cyber realm  
  2. It affects their social relationships, as victims feel isolated and distant from their peers, experiencing difficulties in their interactions 
  3. It can impact their academic performance, causing decreased concentration and overall satisfaction with school life 

Therefore, prevention and response to cyberbullying are urgent tasks, as it negatively impacts the growth and development of children.  

I was confused when I first witnessed various forms of cyberbullying happening to my friends around me, and I hesitated on how to console my friend who was affected by cyberbullying.  

However, I gathered the courage to approach my friend and offer sincere words of comfort. Even though my way of consoling might have been clumsy, I hoped that my genuine concern for my friend would come across. Hearing my consoling words, my friend burst into tears and said something that deeply moved me: 

"It felt like everything was my fault, and I was abandoned in this world all alone. But thanks to your words, I don't feel I'm alone anymore." 

To help friends who were going through similar difficulties, I initiated a cyberbullying prevention campaign within the school. Together with like-minded friends, we brainstormed ways to prevent and respond to cyberbullying, and we created a board game with the theme of "Cyberbullying Prevention" for the entire student body to play and learn from.  

Additionally, we designed posters to raise awareness about available resources for assistance with cyberbullying, such as school teachers, police officers, and specialized counseling organizations. We posted them in the hallways and bulletin boards. Through these efforts, we raised awareness among school friends about the seriousness of cyberbullying and provided emotional support and practical solutions to victims. 

Offering sincere comfort to friends who are victims of cyberbullying is the priority. Support from adults in the vicinity is also necessary. Furthermore, it is important to gather strength with friends and find solutions to address and prevent cyberbullying as a social issue.  

However, there needs to be a change in school-level prevention education regarding cyberbullying. Despite cyberbullying becoming increasingly serious over time, prevention education fails to serve as an effective solution.  

The Ministry of Education states that school bullying prevention training should be conduct once or twice a year in their policy, but sometimes it is not implemented as planned. Moreover, the content is based on outdated cases, giving a sense of irrelevance and boredom, which fails to elicit empathy from students. I desire prevention education involving student participation, providing opportunities to raise awareness about cyberbullying and explore ways to actively prevent and respond to it.  

Through this opportunity, I hope that the voices of all children, including myself, will reach the world, enabling us to present comprehensive solutions that enhance school prevention education and address the various aspects of cyberbullying. 

 When you witness cyberbullying or see a friend who is a victim, do not hesitate to offer help and confront the situation head-on.  Taking the first step is always difficult, but gather the courage to reach out to the victim, seek assistance from those around you, and speak up with a sincere voice. In doing so, I believe I believe you will eventually be one step closer to achieving the desired outcome.  

Hear from Yeon-seo

#Changemakers like Yeon-seo, 15, are making a real difference in their communities, countries and around the world advocating for change. Find out more, and join the movement: