Exclude, finish off, shout down: people have always liked to torture each other, and it’s even easier on the Internet. The pandemic made things worse.
Karlsruhe – More and more adults are being affected by bullying and, above all, by digital agitation, so-called cyberbullying.
According to a study by the Alliance for Cyberbullying published on Thursday, the increase shows a “threatening dynamic” – additionally favored by the circumstances of the corona pandemic. Women and younger people are particularly affected, as stated in the representative study entitled “Mobbing and cyberbullying among adults”. 4,000 people between the ages of 18 and 65 were interviewed, 2,000 of them in Germany and 1,000 each in Austria and German-speaking Switzerland.
According to the CEO of the Karlsruhe Alliance, Uwe Leest, the situation has worsened since a representative previous study from 2018. The number of victims of cyberbullying attacks in Germany has increased by 25 percent. In the meantime, around five million adults up to 65 years of age (11.5 percent) are affected, he explained. In total, 32.6 percent of respondents in Germany had already been victims of bullying attacks (Austria: 36.1, Switzerland: 38.7). Extrapolated, this corresponds to around 17 million people nationwide.
Such harassment mostly occurs in the working world (48 percent). According to the information, however, they are also increasing sharply in the private sector. Corona has given cyberbullying additional momentum: parents could not go to work because daycare centers and schools were closed and were then put under pressure by superiors or colleagues because of the care problems of their children, according to Leest. Digital attacks shifted to the home office, so to speak.
Peter Sommerhalter, head of prevention and media advice at the alliance, is also a victim of bullying: a cyberbobber has been showering him with death threats for over ten years – without the perpetrator being able to be found. “Cyberbobbers do not experience that they are threatened with punishment,” said Sommerhalter, who was already on sick leave because of the emotional stress. The data protection is here protection of perpetrators.
Leest attributed the study results mainly to two factors: On the one hand, Internet bullying is barely punished and anonymity on the Internet is viewed as far too high a good. “I guarantee: If anonymity were to be removed, we would have 90 percent fewer cases of cyberbullying,” he said. “We put freedom of expression above human dignity.” On the other hand, the influence of the now grown-up “smartphone generation” is evident on the figures: “Those who experienced during their school days that cyberbullying was not prosecuted now take the behavior they have learned with them into the world of work, ”he said.
According to the study, the attacks have serious health consequences: around 15 percent of people in the survey described themselves as suicidal, around 3 percent more than in 2018. Between 15 and 20 percent of the victims would have resorted to alcohol, medication or drugs because of bullying . “Mobbing and cyberbullying manifests itself in the affected people in sometimes severe psychological and psychosomatic problems, which often last their entire life,” it says. dpa