A study recently published in the UK reveals, that teenagers who suffer bullying are three times more likely to commit suicide. Unsurprisingly, this alarming subject has been constantly discussed around the world for some time. Several platforms are trying to combat bullying by providing information about its dangers; TV shows – like the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” – are putting a spotlight on the importance of this topic. However, the number of victims related to bullying have not dropped. Despite the awareness that makes room for discussions about it – the problem is still there.
Nowadays we are more connected. It’s not so much of a surprise, that bullying has been occurring on social media. On most channels, it is possible to report unbecoming behaviors. But there’s one exception: the most widely used messaging platform in the world, WhatsApp. Due to its encryption, WhatsApp is the only cyber-space where a bully can engage in offensive acts freely, since the app can do nothing to block or control its messages.
Cyberbullying is already considered one of the leading causes of depression, suicidal tendencies and life-long trauma among young people. In Portugal, the law considers bullying and cyberbullying a crime punishable by up to five years imprisonment when the offender is over 16 years old. However, even under this law, victims are discredited or afraid to report, and attackers remain unpunished and free to use their smartphones as a weapon to spread hatred.
This November, one month after the internationally known Bullying Prevention Month, an initiative suggests a smart solution to tackle this “blind spot”. The terms and conditions section in mobile phone company contracts contains specific clauses designed to provide protection against violence. Customers who have committed any kind of digital violence, or harmed others, could face the immediate cancellation of their cell phone number.
Using a tool that recognizes mobile operators, termsagainstbullying.com receives complaints and sends them to the regulatory body of each European country. It will be responsible for ensuring that mobile providers comply with contractual clauses, that obliges them to cancel the contracts of those who have committed digital violence.
Termsagainstbullying.com also draws attention to the different types of bullying, thus educating about the various types of digital violence, that should be reported.
This project was conceived and created by the independent creative agency, White Rabbit Budapest.
“We found in the bully’s weapon his greatest weakness: all the mobile companies in the world have in their “terms & conditions” section an anti-violence clause that assures, by law, the cancelation of the contract of those who have used the service for Bullying. With this in mind, we created a digital tool that allows the victim to anonymously report the aggressor’s number. This innovative tool automatically identifies the mobile company and displays in the contract where this clause appears. With these contracts and real proof of cyberbullying in hand, the responsible companies have everything they need to identify, cancel contracts and kick cyberbullies off the Internet.”, comments István Bracsok, CCO of White Rabbit Budapest
“I truly believe that this initiative with Portuguese universities will bring the security our students need to report their abusers and solve this problem. More than that, it will bring hope to many others who are going through the same situation. Whether they are students or not, everyone can use this digital platform to protect themselves.” Comments Elsa Fernandes, Universi dade Madeira
Source: White Rabbit