Cyber bullying: Nationwide Malaysian quest to design stronger strategies

AvantiKumar | Nov. 10, 2017
Digi’s DigiSAFE has announced a new study to look into developing the resilience strategies needed to tackle cyber bullying in an era of rapidly evolving technologies.

Conundrum of cyberbullying vs resilience building

Photo: During launch of 2017 survey, a discussion on the conundrum of cyberbullying vs resilience building.


  A new effort to better understand cyber bullying has been launched in Malaysia in the form of a nationwide survey under Digi Telecommunications (Digi) DigiSAFE programme.

The aim is to uncover and better understand online bullying behaviour at secondary school level to help tighten resiliency strategies, said organisers from the DigiSAFE programme.

As cyber bullying behaviour can spread across generations and sectors including enterprise, this behaviour needs to be more rigorously addressed when it first emerges at school level.

The story of comprehensive mapping of online misbehaviour is one of the objectives of DigiSAFE's nationwide surveys, which started in 2010. During the inaugural national survey of almost 10,000 children from 460 schools, the need for more online safety guidance was emphasised

At the time, Digi's chief strategy and corporate affairs officer, Christian Thrane, said that based on the polls, 68 percent of school children have access to the internet at home. Of this, a significant number of them spend an average of eight hours a week on the internet and 68 percent used it primarily for social networking purpose.

"Beyond creating awareness, we've leveraged on our reach to students in 460 schools nationwide to better understand their usage and behavioural patterns, and knowledge of cyber safety," said Thrane.

When Malaysia's Education Blueprint set out to provide full internet access for 10,000 schools nationwide by the end of 2013, Digi, a part of the Telenor Group, repeated its call for the online safety of children.

Sizing the challenge

Speaking during Global Safer Internet Day in February 2014, Telenor Group's head of Asia operations and Digi chairman, Sigve Brekke said about 500 million children in emerging Asian markets will be accessing the internet via mobile in the next 10 years. "Within the next three years, this 'vulnerable demographic' will see 85 million children with online access, which includes Malaysian school children."

Released with digital security agency CyberSecurity Malaysia as one of the programme partners , DigiSAFE's 2014 edition of the national survey found that 83 percent of "Malaysian schoolchildren are vulnerable to online risks due to minimal protective actions."

That particular survey also cut through myths about the matter. Key findings included:

n addition, the areas of adult intervention found that:

Advanced resilience strategies

Each report has helped fine tune DigiSAFE's programmes with the cooperation of various partners. An example was national online safety campaign for children with the release of public service announcement videos, which tackled three of the most common cyber risks.

Digi's CyberSAFE in Schools programme manager Philip Ling said during the release that the three most common online risks faced by schoolchildren are cyber-bullying, cyber-grooming, and cyber-stalking.

The 2017 survey again intends to draw together the largest repository of online bully behaviour among secondary schoolchildren in Malaysia including the impact and effectiveness of the actions that were taken to overcome this challenge sourced from more than 5000 secondary school students.

Main objectives include: deepening the understanding of online behavioural patterns of schoolchildren; the emotional impact on victims; and the effectiveness of the coping strategies adopted so far.

This year's study also wants to ask whether there is a need to regularly review the way "cyberbullying is mitigated, given the evolving nature of technology."

The aim is to strive for a more effective alignment between current online behaviours - and the most effective mechanisms - to deliver the right advice to children, said Digi's chief executive officer Albern Murty.

"With our partners and through our CyberSafe programme, we are helping more children to be aware and take steps towards keeping themselves safe while they enjoy the many learning opportunities that the internet provides," said Murty.

"We are fortunate to be in a country where connectivity is easily accessible for all, yet our earlier surveys has found that many children are still unaware of online risks such cyberbullying or cyber grooming," he added. "Through Digi CyberSAFE, we strive to narrow the gap by building digital resilience and nurture digital citizenship among schoolchildren in country."

Access to the survey will be made available online as well as through UNICEF's uReport platform. There are also plans to tie-in with roadshows in 2018 to engage with more students and encourage them to contribute their voices to the survey.

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The latest edition of this article lives at Computerworld Malaysia.