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Violence – part of online risks children face today

Safer Internet – cause for 16-year-old Milena Radoytseva

Milena is 16 years old girl from Sofia, studying at the Second English Language School "Thomas Jefferson". She likes math and history classes and wants to become a journalist in the future. She has taken part in various projects that promote participation in social causes and is representative of Bulgaria in the Eurochild Children's Council. She is among the participants in the Youth Panel at the Safer Internet Center in Bulgaria.

Media spotlight was put on her about a month ago because of the Washington Post's “12 kids who are changing their communities and our world" that marked the 20th anniversary of the media’s page KidsPost. The Bulgarian teenager is presented together with children from various cities in the USA, India, Mali, Italy, India. Milena attracted the attention of journalists with her active work against cyberbullying and her leading role in the initiative of the SafeNet Center.

"The campaign is called 'You Are the Hero' and the main message is that everyone is a hero inside but it is a question of finding one’s essence,” Milena says. “The campaign focuses mainly on cyberbullyingand how to deal with it. In fact, in dealing with this problem we do not need to blame the one who shows aggression. Often people who bully others have experienced trauma and also need help. The dangers of the Internet are not related only to bullying. Risks include fake news, the constant flow of manipulative information, and so on. One can handle all this as long as they are well-informed. This is the idea of the Bulgarian Safer Internet Centre. The ‘You Are the Hero’ campaign, its promotion and the idea for the video to it, is entirely the work of the Youth Panel of the non-governmental organisation. The video shows how an ‘online bully’ changes his behaviour after seeing his sister's drawings. Being harassed online by another bully, she portrays her brother as a superhero who saves her from the unpleasant situation. Seeing this the young man decides to find the hero in himself.”

Although aggression is part of most people's nature, Milena says that this can change. It is a matter of personal choice to work on one's shortcomings. She adds that violence should not be countered with violence.

Members of Eurochild Children's Council, Bulgaria in action"I believe one should never respond with violence in such a situation. One needs to think about ways to make both sides feel good. Yes, the one who has been abused will need more time to recover, but it is important to understand what turns people into abusers. Online violence is a type of mental attack and the Internet is the means to make it happen. There is no way to physically stop the one who exercises violence and they would continue doing it until they pour out accumulated malice. The only way to deal with this is to use familiar methods - discussions, help, specialist intervention. Many of us choose to be educated and to fight the desire to dominate others through aggression. Others turn it into a way of communication. I think it is possible for a person to fight aggression in themselves.

When it comes to the other kids in the article, they all have different causes and that's wonderful. For me the most important thing at the moment is online harassment, but for others it is domestic violence, global warming, etc. There are many young people who are active, who have something to say to the world and who want to be heard and to succeed.

English: Alexander Markov

Photos: courtesy of Milena Radoytseva

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