National Day against Cyberviolence

Publié le 12 . 11 . 2020
Dernière mise à jour 12 . 11 . 2020

November 5th marks the French national day against bullying and cyberviolence, let’s all get into action! 


What is Cyberviolence ? 

 As opposed to a pre-technology era, violence now takes different forms and can occur anywhere, at any time, and spread from “virtual” to very real. Online, perpetrators can remain anonymous and seem to feel that it’s “not so serious” because it’s just behind a screen. Most people are way more violent online verbally, than they would face-to-face.1 

 

 ‘’Cyberviolence is the use of computer systems to cause, facilitate, or threaten violence against individuals that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm or suffering and may include the exploitation of the individual’s circumstances, characteristics or vulnerabilities.’’ 2


Thus, cyberviolence involves any type of abuse, threat, violation, offence and harassment taking place online. Cyberviolence has existed since the apparition of the Internet, but with the advent of social networks, this scourge has only increased. According to a 2019 American study led on a sample of 4.972 high school students, about 37% of them experienced cyberbullying at one point in their life. 3 In 2019 in France, more than 22% of young adults from 18 to 24 years old said they had already experienced repeated attacks on social platforms.4 


This type of violence leads to many effects, victims may feel overwhelmed, hurt and insecure, but it can also lead to much more dramatic outcomes. For a long time, cyberbullies have been able to act without fear of consequences. Until 2014, cyberviolence was not recognized as a misdemeanor in France, but since then, it is now considered as psychological harassment and can therefore be punished by law. 
 

In France, during the first lockdown, cyberviolence became so much more visible that Marlène Schiappa, at the time the French secretary of state in charge of gender equality and the fight against discrimination, gathered various platforms and organizations for the fight against cyberviolence to survey and better protect: Respect Zone was one of them.5

 

Our Collaboration with Respect Zone 


This year, we collaborated with Respect Zone on the creation of an app to help minors facing cyberviolence to learn about, and exercise their rights. Respect Zone sheds light on the fact that individuals harassed online are often misinformed about what cyberviolence entails, and their rights when confronted to these situations. 


The aim of this project is to make sure that the users of the app understand the legal information provided and feel encouraged to use it through simple tools and tips. Our user-centric approach was thus obviously key to make that legal content accessible and comprehensible. Because mere information is not enough when people feel completely overwhelmed, and on their own. Their feelings, environment, frustrations and fears need to be taken into account, so that their brain is able to get out of the threat mode and act in a reasoned way. 


In this project, user-centricity allowed us to focus on the users’ needs, identify their difficulties and frustrations. To gather these insights, we led dozens of individual interviews and collected spontaneous answers through an online survey. It enabled us to learn more about the users’ experiences: what helped them, what did not, and what they would like to change in order to other people facing cyberviolence.  


When we tested our first prototype with users, we led several workshops with minors, parents and teachers. Interestingly, while “grown ups” tended to enter into debates about some terms like “pupils” versus “minors”, minors’ main feedback was “just make it happen, create a 1st version, we need this”! We improved the first prototype and came to a final version of the app, which will be continuously improved – you can check out here.


This day is an opportunity to remind all citizens how important it is help people know and exercise their rights. Prevention and information are key elements in the fight against cyberviolence, and we are proud of taking part in a project that empowers youngsters facing cyberviolence to learn about their rights and take action.

 


1. https://cvm-mineurs.org/public/media/uploaded/pdf/presentatione-peyret-colloquecvm2020-cyberviolences.pdf

2. https://fr.statista.com/themes/5494/le-cyber-harcelement-en-france/

3. https://cyberbullying.org/2019-cyberbullying-data

4. https://www.coe.int/en/web/cybercrime/cyberviolence#{“50020850”:[0]}

5. https://www.europe1.fr/societe/confinement-la-haine-en-ligne-est-la-suite-des-gilets-jaunes-par-dautres-voies-3963879

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