Is it the education? The schools? The Gardaí? Online websites? Social media? The victims themselves? Who should bear the brunt of responsibility for cyberbullying? According to the last survey commissioned by ESET Ireland and carried out by Amárach Research on a thousand Irish (of which 591 were parents themselves), the majority of those surveyed said the fault is with the bullies and their parents.
35% of all Irish surveyed and 34% of parents only said the bullies themselves must be held responsible. 34% of all and 33% of parents said it’s the parents’ fault. 9% of all and 10% of Irish parents blamed the websites where the bullying occurs. 8% of all and 9% of parents said the Gardaí are not doing enough to prevent cyberbullying. 5% of all and 6% of parents blamed the schools, 4% of all and 5% of parents shifted the responsibility to the parents of those bullied and 1% blamed the victim.
The demographic breakdown was pretty consistent among all age groups, median income and location, except for one interesting difference. 43% of those from Connacht and Ulster said the primary responsibility is on the bully, while only 31% of those in Munster did. But they responded rather the opposite when it came to parental responsibility, where only 27% of those in Connacht and Ulster would put the blame on parents, while 40% of Munster did.
What does all this tell us?
While the institutions, such as schools and law enforcement are mentioned, they’re not considered the main problem by the majority of Irish surveyed. Websites, such as social media that the bullies and the bullied use, may offer an easy platform for cyberbullying, but since not everyone is engaged in cyberbullying, they can’t be that bad either. The core problem is therefore the behaviour of the bullies and the responsibility of their parents for such behaviour.
Previous ESET research has shown that 54% of parents had no idea their child was being bullied online, while another ESET research has revealed that while 88% of parents are concerned about their children online, only 34% have actually done something about it and installed Parental Control software on their children’s laptops or mobiles, which enables parents to monitor their kids’ activities, be alerted of anything out of the ordinary and intervene appropriately if they notice their child is a bully or getting bullied. While Parental Control itself can not eradicate the problem of cyberbullying, it can certainly enable parents to act responsibly and prevent it in time, before it causes serious damage or leads to tragedy.
For more information on keeping children safe online, see also Why parents must teach their children about internet security and Back to school: 5 challenges that parents and teachers face in IT security.