Najat Maalla M’jid
Keynote session from the World Anti-Bullying Forum 2021 in Stockholm by UN Special Representative on Violence Against Children Najat Maalla M’jid.
Children as part of the Solution
Bullying is a form of violence – whether physical, psychological, or social – and like all forms of violence, it has severe and long-term impacts in the lives of children and their adult lives. Bullying including cyberbullying – one of the main forms of peer to peer violence, is among children’s top concerns.
Preventing and ending bullying, including cyberbullying is essential to guaranteeing children’s right to education, mental health, development and protection, which is also essential in order to achieve the related Sustainable Development Goals, such as 16.2 and SDG 4, as well as other SDGs tackling drivers of violence.
The evolution of ICTs has transformed bullying into a virtual aggression where it can be witnessed by unnumerable people, and which will remain in cyberspace forever. We need to re-assess our understanding of the characteristics and extent of its manifestations.
During COVID, through school closure and lockdowns face-to-face aggressions have decreased while cyberbullying has increased. A post-COVID phase gives us an opportunity to build back better, addressing different dimensions of bullying: how girls are being affected, how the Internet is being used for hate-speech, how children can support each other, how children become part of the solution.