Cyberbullying has become increasingly common, especially among teenagers.

Sadly, we live in a world of terrors. All the groundbreaking advancements that have helped the humanity progress over the last centuries have, undeniably, also left us vulnerable to violence and threats.

Historically, kids and teenagers have been susceptible to harassment, yet nowadays, bullies and mean girls are no longer found only in prestigious schools and their offensive behaviour has expanded beyond “calling names”. Technology and social media have set a new playground for those who’ve decided to spend their lives being the nightmare of others. Now, bullying can occur immediately and to a much larger audience. In addition, those who choose to bully others can get more immediate gratification from likes, shares, re-tweets, and the fast spreading of this, which usually occurs when others start to add to an already negative situation.

While you’re reading this article, 1 in 3 children somewhere around the globe is being bullied online. According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, in 2016, more than 7% of middle school and high school students had a mean or hurtful web page created about them. Furthermore, mobile operator Telenor reveals that 79% of parents and adults across Asia reported that either their child or a child they know had been threatened with physical harm while playing online games.

In Romania, 80% of teenagers under 18 were harassed online, as shown in a study made by Tribal Worldwide Romania for Bitdefender. Results also indicate that the main weapons for online attacks are related to people’s looks and way of dressing (67%), hobbies and daily preoccupations (30%), the financial situation of their families (13%), school results (12%) and sexual orientation (8%).

According to the study, 65% admit they were directly affected by cyberbullying and also noticed involuntary changes in their behaviour following the aggression. Most say the incidents decreased their self-trust and made them isolate, around 20% ended up depressed and 5% compensated the lack of online friends with drugs and alcohol.

The most disturbing fact of the survey is that two thirds of those attacked online didn’t mention it to anyone, because they were afraid or did not believe anything will ever change. Worldwide statistics about cyberbullying are absolutely overwhelming, yet, in reality, the situation is much more dramatic. For each child or young adult that confesses being the victim of cyberbullying there are other 10 or even more that continue to live in this darkness by themselves.

We need to fight more to make the world, be it online or offline, a better and safer place for our children, our neighbors’ children, for each and every person that exists.

With this purpose in mind, Bitdefender has launched in November 2017 the ‘#logoutofhate’ campaign (ro. #nutastaura), aimed to increase awareness over cyberbullying in Romania and all over the world and its negative effects on young people. The campaign aims to gather 50.000 signatures on an online petition in order to launch a Facebook reactions button against cyberbullying.

The negative effects of cyberbullying are not to be ignored. Alongside the increasing number of suicides directly linked to cyberbullying, a 2016 study discovered that bullying victims are more likely to engage in substance abuse and nonviolent delinquency.

What are we doing to stop cyberbullying?