PHNOM PENH, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned on Tuesday of the dangers posed by online violence, cyberbullying and digital harassment for the 85.7 percent of young people aged 15 to 24 years old who are online in Cambodia.
In its statement, the UNICEF called for concerted action to tackle and prevent violence against children and young people online.
The call, made on Safer Internet Day, comes following a recent UNICEF poll of young people, which received more than 1 million responses over five weeks from more than 160 countries and regions, and suggestions from a series of student-led #ENDviolence Youth Talks held around the world, the statement said.
In it, young people provided thoughtful responses about what they and their parents, teachers and policymakers could do to keep them safe and kindness stood out as one of the most powerful means to prevent bullying and cyberbullying, it said.
"We've heard from children and young people from around the globe and what they are saying is clear: The Internet has become a kindness desert," said Natascha Paddison, UNICEF's officer-in-charge representative in Cambodia.
"That's why this Safer Internet Day, UNICEF is following young people's lead and inviting everyone to be kind online, and calling for greater action to make the Internet a safer place for everyone," she said.
According to data from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on the prevalence of cyberbullying in high-income countries, the proportion of children and adolescents who are affected by cyberbullying range from 5 to 21 percent, with girls appearing to be more likely to experience cyberbullying than boys.
In Cambodia, 80.4 percent of girls aged between 15 and 24 years old are online, compared to 91.5 percent of boys of the same age, the statement said.
The online population in Cambodia is getting younger with 4.5 percent of children under 15 years old online, it said, adding that older students may be more exposed to cyberbullying than younger ones, and children are not immune from harmful content, sexual exploitation and abuse, and cyberbullying.
"Cyberbullying can cause profound harm as it can quickly reach a wide audience, and can remain accessible online indefinitely, virtually 'following' its victims online for life," the statement said.
Bullying and cyberbullying feed into each other, forming a continuum of damaging behaviour, the statement said, adding that victims of cyberbullying are more likely to use alcohol and drugs and skip school than other students.
"They also are more likely to receive poor grades and experience low self-esteem and health problems. In extreme situations, cyberbullying has led to suicide," it said.