The Special Committee for the Rights of the Child discussed on Wednesday the alarming increase in online bullying among children and teenagers.

“During the corona period, from March until May, there was a 2.5-fold increase in the use of the Internet, and with that comes a rise in online bullying incidents,” Committee Chairman MK Jabareen said as he opened the meeting. “This is an issue the committee has been following for a long time, and the committee also had a part in the establishment of the (105 hotline for reporting online abuse).”

Public Security Ministry official Nava Cohen-Avigdor said that since the hotline was opened in February 2018, it has received 17,876 calls regarding various incidents, including 2,687 calls about bullying, harassment and shaming. 51% of the calls were made by parents, 29% were made by the victims themselves, and 10% of the calls came from educational personnel. The remaining calls came from people who fall under other categories.

“Every year we see an increase in the percentage of minors who report incidents themselves, and this is a great sign that the hotline is seen by them as a trustworthy place,” she said.

The amount of calls fielded by the hotline in each month since the beginning of 2020 has been double the amount of calls received during the corresponding month in 2019, Cohen-Avigdor noted. Most of the reports deal with incidents that occur on WhatsApp and Instagram, “but this is not necessarily indicative of their level of danger, but of the level of their popularity,” she said, adding that 70% of the victims of online bullying, harassment or shaming are female minors, and 61% of those who in engage in these acts are male minors.