Survey shows overwhelming majority of Assam youngsters suffer cyber-bullying, corporal punishment

NewsDrum Desk
22 Nov 2022

Guwahati, Nov 22 (PTI) A survey of some 9,500 volunteers from 24 universities and educational institutions in Assam showed that 95 per cent of them have suffered cyber-bullying and corporal punishment of some sorts leading to mental health issues.

Close to 60 per cent of the young people who were surveyed pointed out that it impacted their social relationships, while 24 per cent admitted it led to stress, anxiety and fear. Some 17 per cent also reported physical injury.

The survey was conducted by UNICEF and National Service Scheme (NSS).

As many as 9,500 NSS volunteers participated in the poll on cyber-bullying and corporal punishment and a report with the findings was released on Sunday.

The U-Report poll, launched in July this year, was developed to support the Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights’ (ASCPCR) campaign called `Suraksha’ (protection), aiming to raise public awareness on the forms of violence against children and redressal mechanisms.

U-Report is a social platform created by UNICEF, and is available via SMS, Facebook and Twitter, where young people express their opinion.

Currently, 19 per cent of Assam’s 3.1 crore population (Census 2011) is in the age group of 15-24 years.

Dr Mythili Hazarika, Associate Professor, Department of Clinical Psychology, Gauhati Medical College Hospital, said cyber-bullying has become common in recent years as the presence of young people in the digital space has increased considerably. This form of harassment had led to many unpleasant incidents, even leading to death by suicide in some cases.

"Social alienation, a feeling of powerlessness, anxiety, depression and loneliness are common manifestations. The victim often believes that it is his or her fault leading to psychological issues. It is important that the victim must report the matter to the immediate family and take legal redressal", Hazarika told PTI.

Social activist and counsellor Archana Borthakur told PTI that trolling in cyberspace as well as corporal punishment can have a permanent effect on the mental health of young people and they must immediately go to the police, counsellors and also seek legal help.

During the survey, half of the young people reported being bullied online by an unknown person. Some 12 per cent of respondents said they were bullied by a classmate and 14 per cent by a friend.

Facebook was identified by 36 per cent of the young people as the most common social platform for being bullied, followed by Instagram at 25 per cent.

Spreading lies, circulating embarrassing photos or videos on social media (35 per cent) were the most frequent forms of bullying with physical appearance as the most common reason for being bullied online.

According to the poll, 35 per cent of young people experienced corporal punishment at home, 25 per cent at school, and 14 per cent at other spaces such as private tuitions and on sports grounds. Twenty-six per cent experienced it in all three settings.

The most common form of punishment was being hit or slapped on the hand, arm or leg (67 per cent) followed by yelling or verbal abuse (16 per cent).

Awareness about redressal mechanisms was known to 68 per cent of the volunteers, of which 57 per cent recognised Assam Police as the most popular available support system.

“Given the Assam government's impetus on creating a conducive environment for youth to grow and thrive, UNICEF Assam has been working with them, especially those from the most vulnerable communities,” UNICEF Assam chief Madhulika Jonathan said.

In 2020-21, the NSS Directorate for the northeast region and UNICEF Assam joined hands to work on the issue of child protection in all eight states as a mandate of a national partnership between the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, and UNICEF India. PTI DG MM JRC JRC

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