The amplification of cyberhate victimisation by discrimination and low life satisfaction: Can supportive environments mitigate the risks?

Cyberhate victimisation can be an especially harmful experience for vulnerable children and young people. We present results from a study with young people from four European countries and their cyberhate victimisation experiences. Can supportive environments mitigate the risk for them?

November 2023 Marie Jaroň Bedrošová

Author of the image is Freepik.

Cyberhate, or online hate speech, is a type of aggressive online behaviour that attacks people because of their group identities or group characteristics, such as their ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. As part of the EU Kids Online IV project, we conducted a study with 3,396 children and adolescents aged 11-17 years from the Czech Republic, France, Poland, and Romania. We explored whether their vulnerabilities in the form of being discriminated against offline or having low life satisfaction would be associated with cyberhate victimisation. We looked at the role of supportive peer, family, and school environments, which could potentially serve as protective factors and mitigate the risk.

Our results show that 7.8% of children and adolescents stated they were victims of cyberhate. Vulnerable children and adolescents, specifically those who were discriminated against offline and who had lower life satisfaction, were more likely to be victims of cyberhate.


  • EU Kids Online IV
  • N = 3,396
  • Czech Republic, France, Poland, Romania
  • 11-17 yo
  • 51 % girls

Supportive family and peer environments were shown to be protective factors, but they worked differently for adolescents experiencing discrimination and adolescents with low life satisfaction. A supportive peer environment mitigated the risk of experiencing cyberhate victimisation amongst those who reported discrimination and also those with lower life satisfaction, whereas a supportive family environment reduced the association only for those experiencing discrimination but not those with low life satisfaction. Against expectations, school support did not appear to have any effect on the risk of victimization by cyberhate.

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These are important results which show that children from minority groups and those with low life satisfaction are more prone to be targets of hateful aggression. We also showed that different environmental levels (of family, peers and school) need to be considered separately as they play different roles in decreasing the risk of victimisation. Amongst discriminated against groups, strong family bonds are particularly important. In addition, peer support, which becomes increasingly important in the period of adolescence and which conveys a sense of belonging, also buffers against adversity.

Our findings indicate that it is important to educate and support parents and families in relation to cyberhate. And it is also necessary to support empathy towards adolescents. In the case of peers, they should be educated about the importance of empathy and support of those who show lower life satisfaction or are from minority groups. Especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds may benefit from such support.

Interested in the original manuscript?

Görzig, A., Blaya, C., Bedrosova, M., Audrin, C., & Machackova, H. (2023). The amplification of cyberhate victimisation by discrimination and low life satisfaction: Can supportive environments mitigate the risks? The Journal of Early Adolescence, 43(1), 5–36.

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