ZAGREB, February 25, 2019 – An expert conference was held in Zagreb earlier this week on the unacceptable behaviour of young people on social media and the Internet, hearing the challenges experts face in everyday work with children and youth as a result of their use of digital technologies, because of which one in three children in Croatia is exposed to inappropriate content and abuse, while many are exposed to cyber bullying.
The conference was organised by the association of judges for youth and families and experts on children and youth. It brought together about 100 social workers, educators, judges, psychologists, prosecutors, police, attorneys, teachers, physicians and representatives of government and non-governmental organisations.
Zagreb County Court judge Lana Peto Kujundžić said the development of ICT was a big challenge due to new forms of computer crime which was global and transnational in character. She underlined the need for as much education as possible.
Zagreb Municipal Court judge Dijana Rizvić said sexual abuse over the Internet had much harder consequences on victims than immediate crimes because they were additionally exposed to the public. She said youth were also threatened by Internet fraud and that the rise in cyber crimes was also due to the increasing computer literacy of youth.
Rizvić said the triggers of virtual crime could be boredom, making illegal gains, imprudence and reactions to social events. She underlined the importance of mediation instead of the criminal prosecution of youth and the adoption of a good law on unacceptable behaviour on the Internet.
Tomislav Ramljak, the only digital forensic examiner in Croatia and president of the Centre for Missing and Abused Children, said over 95% of children in Croatia had Internet access and that one in three were exposed to inappropriate content and abuse.
Ivo Jakić of the Interior Ministry said the Internet was responsible for the rise in crime. He said it was a medium with which children spent the most time and that some of them behaved imprudently because they were unaware of the consequences, revealing private information and sending inappropriate photos.
Jakić underlined the importance of raising awareness and said that 25% of children in Croatia had been victims of cyber bullying, while 75% had witnessed it.
Irena Rojnić Palavra and Ana Rakić, psychiatrists working in a Zagreb hospital for the treatment of Internet and video game addiction, said excessive computer use could have social, psychological-psychiatric and even physical consequences.
They said video games, social media and pornographic content had the biggest potential for creating addiction. Rojnić Palavra said few decided to undergo treatment and that this was due to insufficient information, fear of stigmatisation, the social acceptance of such behaviour and the fact that the consequences are less noticeable than with alcohol or drug addiction.
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