Quarter of Turkish youths exposed to cyber bullying: Technology authority

Quarter of Turkish youths exposed to cyber bullying: Technology authority

Cansu Şimşek - ISTANBUL
Quarter of Turkish youths exposed to cyber bullying: Technology authority

A quarter of young people in Turkey are exposed to cyber bullying at least once in their lifetime, according to the head of the country’s Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK).

“Some 25 percent of young people are exposed to bullying via mobile phones or the Internet. Eleven percent of them say that embarrassing or damaging photographs of them have been taken and shared without their permission. More than half of young people say they do not trust their families so do not tell them when they are targeted by cyber bullying,” said BTK head Ömer Fatih Sayan, commenting on a new initiative “Don’t be a cyber bully,” started in partnership with technology giant Samsung.

“In comparison, while 21 percent of Internet users in Canada are exposed to cyber bullying, this figure is 20 percent in the United Kingdom,” Sayan added.

Sertel Şıracı, a lawyer specialized on informatics, touched on the danger of a “domino effect” in relation to the issue.

“Cyber bullying occurs widely in the abuse of children and young people via the Internet. The main problem is that children can use the Internet as a criminal tool without being aware of it. Parents can have a domino effect when they think they are simply joking around by sharing photos of their children without the latter’s permission. But I think future generations will start to fight against this type of rights violation in a few years,” Şıracı said.

Citing one example of the form that cyber bullying can take, he said he witnessed a young person who was forced to leave the province where she lived after being exposed to cyber bullying.

“In a small Anatolian province, a video of a young girl who lives with her family, which does not carry sexual content, was posted on the Internet with the tag ‘high school chick.’ When you watch the video you cannot even identify the person in the video, but the video quickly spread throughout the school and was linked with the girl. She had a horrible experience and her family was also traumatized. Her father told me he was in despair and had not been able to sleep for days,” he said.

“They decided to start a legal process. They also decided to get psychological treatment for the girl, while also changing her school. But this didn’t help and they were eventually obliged to move to another province. Although we won the legal battle and had the videos removed from the Internet, the family remains traumatized,” Şıracı said.

Graduate student Selen Buse Şakar also said she was exposed to online cyber bullying after taking part in a quiz show broadcast on TV.

“After the show images were shared on the show’s Instagram account. My mother saw the photos and the comments before me and did not tell me as she didn’t want me to worry. Being amusing and sincere on the show only led me to being insulted online afterward. I heard insults so shocking that I’ve never heard such words in my life. The interesting thing is that I never heard any criticism face-to-face, while the criticism online was completely different,” Şakar said.

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