Microsoft joins NoBully, UNESCO in upcoming global campaign to stop online bullying

Microsoft has joined NoBully and UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in their bid to create a global campaign to stop online bullying and to inspire young people to stand up for one another in the digital space.

NoBully, UNESCO, educators and representatives from companies and non-profits from nine countries met in London last month to begin brainstorming the framework for a worldwide campaign. After the two-day workshop, the organizers agreed to synthesize the wealth of ideas and strategies discussed and to determine next steps.

Photo of four representatives attending London meeting about bullying online
Among those in London at the recent gathering of NoBully, UNESCO, educators and representatives from companies and nonprofits from nine countries were, clockwise from left, Erik Stangvik, NoBully, U.S.; Jacqueline Beauchere, Microsoft, U.S.; Anita Low-Lim, TOUCH Youth, Singapore; and Rodrigo Neim, SaferNet Brasil, Brazil.

“For the past six months, I have traveled the world and spoken to researchers, civil society organizations, tech companies and national ministries of education about coming together to address online bullying,” said Nicholas Carlisle, founder and CEO of NoBully. “Each person that I have spoken with not only sees the need for action, but wants to be part of it.”

Carlisle sees the London meeting as the first step toward the creation and growth of that collaborative campaign. “It was inspiring to witness participants step beyond their organizational goals to co-create a strategy for impacting cyberbullying across the world,” he added. “At a deeper level, London marked the beginning of a much-needed coalition to promote values of civility and inclusivity for youth online.”

Microsoft is honored to be part of the creation of what we hope will be a compelling global effort, as all of us aim to make the online world a safer and more trusted place for young people and indeed all individuals.

Microsoft’s commitment to fight online bullying

Microsoft has been committed to combatting online bullying for more than a decade. We’ve conducted research on the issue in dozens of countries; created tools and resources to help parents and other trusted adults address bullying incidents, and we’ve participated in leading international conferences and events designed to raise awareness and share best practices.

Most recently, online bullying was among the 17 different online risks that we asked teens and adults about in our new research focused on digital civility. That study, which I presented at the London meeting, showed that 11 percent of teens in 14 countries said they experienced online bullying at some point. The study also asked about teens’ and adults’ exposure to online harassment, trolling and being treated meanly online. Seventeen percent, 23 percent and 25 percent of teens, respectfully, said they had encountered these three other risks. Taken collectively, more than three-quarters of teen respondents (76 percent) experienced at least one of these negative online interactions.

In 2012, we conducted separate research focused solely on young people’s exposure to bullying. That study, which polled 8-to-17-year-olds in 25 countries, showed 54 percent of respondents were worried that they would be bullied online; 37 percent said they had been bullied and 24 percent admitted to bullying someone. That same research revealed that not even three in 10 (just 29 percent) of parents had spoken to their children about online bullying.

What you can do to help someone involved in online bullying

When faced with online bullying, we encourage parents, caregivers and all adults to:

  • Pay attention. From time to time, ask older kids to take you on a “tour” of what they’re doing online. Model positive social behavior and watch for signs of online cruelty. For younger children, sit with them regularly as they play online.
  • Encourage empathy. A powerful way to help combat online bullying is to encourage kids to put themselves in others’ shoes:

o   Bystanders. Help kids support each other by becoming “upstanders.” Encourage them to be kind, set a good example, block bullies, ask bullies to stop what they’re doing and tell others immediately when they see bullying online. And adults, don’t forget your role as back-up support.

o   Targets. If a child is the target of online bullying, don’t wait to see if the abuse will stop. Get the full story, acknowledge the pain and ask what you can do to help. Then, make the child’s answers the basis of a plan to help address the problem.

o   Bullying. If you discover someone exhibiting bullying behaviors, acknowledge the problem (making it clear that it’s not OK to bully), and try to understand what happened. If necessary, seek professional help.

  • Promote kindness in children’s learning and social circles, and again, model that positive behavior among your own friends and family.

Stand up for safe and civil online behavior

To encourage safer and more respectful online interactions we launched on Safer Internet Day 2017 our campaign for digital civility. Visit our Digital Civility webpage and take our digital civility challenge by agreeing to live by four basic tenets:

  • Live the Golden Rule.
  • Respect differences among those with whom you interact online.
  • Pause before replying to something you don’t agree with, and;
  • Stand up for yourself and others.

Share that you’re taking the challenge via social media. Use the hashtags #challenge4civility and #Im4digitalcivility to let us know how you’re doing and to motivate others to join.

To learn more about combatting online bullying, visit the NoBully website. For more on online safety generally, visit our website and resources page. And, for more regular news and information, connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

At the time of writing of this post, Jacqueline Beauchere’s title was Chief Online Safety Officer.