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What is trolling?

Trolls are people who engage in cyberbullying, cyber violence or online harassment. Like bullying IRL (in real life), the effects are significant. People who are trolled online have a harder time getting away from the behaviour, since it has the potential to happen 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Cyberbullying can reach victims while they’re alone without support. And, because it often happens on public forums, like social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter, trolling and cyberbullying can evoke shame within victims, and lead to low self-esteem and even health problems.

Nearly one in every five young Canadians – about 1.1 million people – was a victim of online bullying in 2014. Girls and LGBTQ+ youth are more likely to experience cyberbullying but it’s a risk for all young people, and it impacts the wellbeing and mental health of anyone affected. Just like with bullying in the schoolyard, educators are also closely involved in combating cyberbullying. 

At Mozilla we create open curricula that empower people to create safe spaces online, like the Teaching Kit: Combating Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls. And Mozilla’s Internet Health Report includes research and analysis on digital inclusion and online harassment globally. You can find a link to the report below this article.

What help is available online?

We also recommend you check out these organisations, each of which offers resources – from support forums to evidence-based research – on bullying IRL and trolling online:

What about user-led approaches?

Approaches developed by adults are not the only way forward to combat cyberbullying. In some education systems, teachers are required to tell parents about any bullying their child reports, which can discourage victims from coming forward. That’s why Hive Toronto’s Ca.pture Project proposed a different approach: reverse the roles and give young people the chance to tell educators about their experiences with cyber violence, and to propose solutions for how to stop it.

Over the course of a year, the Ca.pture youth council members were trained in facilitation, storytelling and basic coding. The young leaders then designed and ran workshops for their peers and educators, to share perspectives on cyberbullying, safe spaces and social change.

The results were promising: every educator and community partner who attended the Youth Council’s workshop adopted the curriculum and organised more workshops in their own schools.

For anyone thinking of designing a similar initiative, Simona Ramkisson of the Mozilla Foundation has this advice: 'Build it with the pathway for young people to be at the table, as co-designers and advisers… They can be their own greatest advocates.'

Mozilla is a global community of technologists, thinkers and builders working together to keep the Internet alive and accessible, so people worldwide can be informed contributors and creators of the web.

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