Campaign Against Cyberbullying Launches in Estonia

8.09.2017

This week, an anti-cyberbullying campaign was launched in Estonia. The aim of the campaign is to increase awareness, reduce and prevent bullying.

Last fall, the Estonian Union for Child Welfare conducted a survey on bullying among more than a 1,000 children and adolescents (grades 4-12). The survey revealed staggering results – more than 25% of respondents said that they have experienced cyberbullying during the previous 12 months, and 17% admitted to have bullied others.

“These numbers are clearly too high. Estonia is well-known for its success as „e-Estonia“, but there has not been enough discussions on the dangers related to widespread usage of online platforms. In order to be able to detect and reduce cyberbullying we have to discuss the problem openly and come up with solutions on how to bring more empathy and understanding to our communication culture, both offline and online,“ said Katrin Isotamm, Head of Communications at Telia Estonia.

This week, Telia together with the Estonian Union for Child Welfare, Ministry of Education and Research, and many other partners launched the #suurimjulgus (greatest courage) campaign with the aim of increasing awareness of the cyberbullying problem, and to get the society to talk about the problem.

“Bullying affects not only school children, but also everyone around them: teachers, classmates, friends, siblings, parents. Bullying often moves from the classroom to smart devices, and vice versa. However, online bullying can be quite devious, as it can take place 24/7, the harm is not visible, and bullies might think they are anonymous as there is no immediate response. Thus, the empathy factor is smaller,“ Katrin Isotamm added.

According to Malle Hallimäe, „Targalt internetis“ Project Coordinator at the Estonian Union for Child Welfare, bullying starts with attitudes and values. “It is important that parents would talk to their children about communication with their peers and human relations in general, and explain to them what constitutes bullying. Cyberbullying might often be hidden. Open and non-judgmental communication will help children who are bullied to talk about it.”

“We are pleased to see that Telia has taken initiative in drawing attention to the issue of cyberbullying, because we tend to underestimate the dangers of the digital world,“ said Kristel Rillo, Deputy Head of E-Services Department at Estonian Ministry of Education and Research. “It is not wise to ignore the problem, because our world is becoming increasingly more digital. However, we can overcome the dangers and try to take only the best that the digital world has to offer. It is important to deepen the debate about dangers of the cyber world, increase awareness, and improve digital skills of our children,“ said Kristel Rillo, adding that the national curriculum already includes digital competence and skills required to fight cyber threats.

The main message of the #suurimjulgus campaign is that bullying – especially anonymous online bullying – does not require courage. The greatest courage is to take a stand against bullying and support those who are not able to or do not know how protect themselves. The campaign does not look for blame, it does not punish or shame.

“We are trying to get to the roots of the problem by addressing those who have bullied others, as well as those who have been bullied and bystanders who have a very important role to play in the fight against bullying. We encourage to notice bullying, interfere, offer help and support,“ said Katrin Isotamm.

The anti-cyberbullying campaign runs in all main channels (outdoor, TV, print, social media) during September and October. Telia’s customer service personnel and technicians will be wearing campaign T-shirts. The website www.suurimjulgus.ee brings together all campaign-related information.

The #suurimjulgus campaign was created by Telia with its many partners - Ministry of Education and Research,the Estonian Union for Child Welfare, KiVa antibullying program, online police officers, Child Helpline, Eesti Meedia, Vaikuseminutid, Salliv Kool, University of Tartu Centre of Ethics, the Estonian School Student Councils' Union. Additionally, the campaign includes children and young people, as well as many popular and well-known public figures, including musicians Getter Jaani, Sofia Rubina, Kristel Aaslaid, young scientist Frida Laigu, extreme sports guru and YouTuber Mikael Parman, actor and TV host Ilja Nartov, IT entrepreneur Vladimir Funtikov, YouTuber Martti Hallik, actor and singer Timur Ilikajev, journalist Jelena Poverina.