Decline in digital bullying among children and young people

Press release
13 minute read
A new survey shows that the amount of digital bullying among children and young people has fallen in the past two years. Yet despite the trend following the right course, two out of three still say that they or someone they know have received messages they perceive as bullying. Telenor, the Red Cross, Barnevakten, and the Norwegian Media Authority are now intensifying the fight against digital bullying. In the autumn 50 new junior high schools will be visited by the "Bruk Hue" (use your head) campaign.
The survey conducted by Norstat on behalf of Telenor, shows that one of three children and young people, between the ages of 10 to 15, say that they themselves or someone they know has sent messages that could be experienced as bullying. This shows a decline of 10 per cent from 2008. According to Statistics Norway, this corresponds to 38,000 children and young people.

"It is pleasing that the fight against digital bullying seems to be working. It is especially important that digital bullying is declining even though utilisation of digital media is seeing an upward trend," says Kristine Meek, manager for social responsibility at Telenor Norway who is also the initiator of the "Bruk Hue" campaign.

"Far too many children are being bullied on their mobile phones and on the Internet. Digital media has become a natural part of the lives of children and young people. The new media provides great opportunities for personal development, but at the same time brings about new challenges that it is important to overcome. Children should feel safe. This is why we are stepping up the fight against digital bullying on several fronts; one of them being our support of the "Bruk Hue" tour," says Minister of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, Audun Lysbakken, who today officially opened the autumn "Bruk Hue" tour in front of 500 school pupils at Gimle Skole in Bergen.

Intensifying the fight against digital bullying

In the past few years, the Red Cross, Barnevakten, Telenor and the Norwegian Media Authority have united to form a joint front against digital bullying through the "Bruk Hue" campaign. Each collaborative partner has contributed unique insight, competence and technology to the development of the campaign which thus far has visited around 100 junior secondary schools throughout Norway.

"Even though the development is positive we are still a long way from our goal. This is why we are intensifying the fight against digital bullying with yet another round of the "Bruk Hue" campaign. During the autumn 50 new schools throughout the country will be hosting the tour," says Meek.

250,000 children have received bullying messages

The survey shows that two out of three children, corresponding to 250,000, say that they or someone they know have received messages that they have felt to be bullying. Even though the numbers are very high the survey shows a positive trend with a decline of four percent since 2008. This amounts to more than 15,000 children.

"Bruk Hue" increases the understanding of why it is important to practice good etiquette when using digital media. The results indicate that pupils understand the importance of this after having participated in "Bruk Hue"," says Thomas Hepsøe, project manager of the Trygg Bruk (safe use) project at the Norwegian Media Authority.

"Bruk Hue" gets pupils to rethink and reflect.

The "Bruk Hue" campaign against digital bullying has been in direct contact with around 15,000 pupils and 7,000 parents since 2008. The number who have felt the effect of the "Bruk Hue" campaign is however far greater. A whole 20 percent of Norwegian children between 10 to 15 years say that they know about the "Bruk Hue" campaign, this corresponds to 75,000 children. Of these a whole 45 percent, or 34,000 children, say that "Bruk Hue" has better equipped them to handle situations that might arise in relation to digital bullying.

A survey among teachers, pupils and parents who have participated in "Bruk Hue" also shows that this attitude campaign is working. Almost all have of those asked say that they now have significant knowledge on digital bullying, including who to contact for help and what they themselves can do to limit digital bullying. A large number of pupils maintain that they have changed their digital behaviour after the campaign. Three of five pupils who have participated in "Bruk Hue" say that they now ask for permission before uploading pictures of others, while 60 percent say they will delete pictures if they believe that others do not like them.

"It is a positive thing that "Bruk Hue" is making pupils, parents and teachers alike, more aware of the challenges associated with digital bullying. What is most important, however, is that the pupils learn something from it that gets them to think twice before uploading something on the Internet, or posting a comment. An important message in "Bruk Hue" is that pupils think through the consequences of their digital actions. It is wonderful to see that they are following the advice we are giving them," says Marianne Børke, manager of the "Cross my heart" service in the Red Cross.

The important dialogue between parent and child

The new survey shows that as many as one of three parents has not spoken to their children about digital bullying. Among those that have participated in "Bruk Hue" the number of parents who have discussed this subject with their children has increased by a whole 85 percent.

"We are interested in focusing on good communication between adults and children. This is why "Bruk Hue" arranges dialogue with both pupils and parents at each school. It makes it easier for parents to talk to their children about these issues afterwards. The dialogue between parents and children is often crucial if the child is to change its behaviour," says Øystein Samnøen, CEO of Barnevakten.

Bully filter on the mobile phone

As part of the campaign against digital bullying Telenor has developed its own bully filter which blocks bullies from the mobile phone. Only later on has Telenor seen that there was actually a need for such a service. Today, thousands of mobile phone subscribers have installed the bully filter on their phones.

"The goal is to help establish a healthy set of values and norms among users of digital services. We hope therefore that in the long term the need for bully filters and similar services will disappear. At the moment, however, there is no doubt that there is a need for it, and many people need extra protection. The bully filter is a good and useful aid here," says Kristine Meek.

The bully filter from Telenor provides users with the option to blacklist mobile numbers from which they do not want to receive text or image messages. The bully filter is simple to activate, just call Customer Services at Telenor on 09000. All you need to do thereafter is add the numbers on Once the bully filter is installed the blacklisted messages will be sent to a separate e-mail account on, so that the user can access the messages if they want to. The sender of the blacklisted message will receive the following message if the message has been blocked: "Warning. You have been blocked from sending messages to this number". The bully filter is free of charge.

For further information, please contact:

Information Manager at Telenor, Per-Aril Meling, mobile: + 47 905 15 800 or e-mail:

Advisor at the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, Camilla Engeset, mobile:+47 908 36 471.

Media Advisor at the Red Cross, Astrid Arnslett, telephone: + 47 22 05 40 47 or mobile: +47 932 86 460.

Øystein Samnøen, CEO of Barnevakten, mobile: +47 404 01 808.

Project Manager of the Trygg Bruk project, Thomas Hepsøe at the Norwegian Media Authority, telephone: +47 69 30 12 59 or mobile +47 97 66 44 91.

For more information please also visit