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Roadmap to Social Ways
People

Roadmap to Social Ways

The Department of Social Harm at the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare is preparing an atlas in which status charts will be drawn for 15 types of social harms specific to cities across the provinces.
“Several social ills afflicting the society are straddling the critical line,” said Dr. Roozbeh Kordooni, social deputy at the ministry, ISNA reported.
Deputy chief for social affairs at the Law Enforcement Forces, Brigadier General Saeed Montazerolmahdi, says violence is the most rampant social affliction the society followed by substance abuse and divorce.
“Poverty is another factor, but not all harms stem from poverty,” he said. Recent studies show that there is no direct correlation between poverty and social violence or divorce, the general said.
The atlas will not be publicized. It is for official use with precise data on the trends and state of social harms to help those in charge address the problems in a timely and efficient manner.
Iran’s Legal Medicine Organization (ILMO) reports that in the first two months of the current year (ends March 19), 95,643 people were injured in street brawls triggered by rage and rash responses. However, the figure was down 8.2% compared to the same period last year.
Whether on streets or on cyberspace, participants in quarrels or even heated dialogues are divided into two groups; bullies and underdogs, and regardless of what triggers an insulting encounter, the feeling often gives rise to rage and violence in individuals, youth in particular.
Violence is not restricted to Iran. It is the main cause of death among individuals aged 15-44 across the world. However, there are social ills that at times are more harmful than those caused by the physical harm of the crime.
Kordooni says the sense of shame or humiliation during verbal squabbles is a major social concern in Iran.

 Social Media
Social networks can make people feel connected to a larger community, but such easy, casual connection in an electronic environment can, and does, have its downside.
The immediacy provided by social media leaves people vulnerable to the practice of cyber-bullying in which the perpetrators, anonymously or even posing as people their victims trust, terrorize individuals in front of their peers. The devastation of these online attacks can leave deep mental scars. In several well-publicized cases, victims have been driven to suicide. The anonymity afforded online lets loose reckless impulses that might otherwise be suppressed.  In several well-publicized cases, victims have been driven to suicide. Cyber-bullying has spread widely among the youth, with 42% reporting that they have been victims, said a 2010 CBS news report.
According to Abolhassan Firouzabadi, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Cyberspace and Head of the Iran National Cyberspace Center, there are over 114 social networks active in Iran, most of which operate for entertainment.
More than 50% of users spend more than one hour a day on social networks including Telegram, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin. According to the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, 13 million Iranians are currently using Telegram, a social messaging application for smartphones, through which an assortment of dodgy information with no authentic source, and a mixture of fact and fiction are circulated on a daily basis.
With more than 22 million smart phones in the country, the need for an effective system to deal with the socio-cultural impact of cyberspace is being felt more than ever before.
Additionally, the Internet is now serving as a pathway through which wider social and cultural anxieties are communicated. Through the word of mouth the social and cultural impacts eventually affect those who are offline as well.

 Deficiencies
Reviewing the efficacy of policies regarding social harm and having a comprehensive database of trends in society are of paramount importance that can and should help officials decide what step to take next. “There is a deficit in this area in Iran, which the atlas aims to rectify,” the deputy minister said.
“Denial and exaggeration by those responsible hinders the process of controlling and curtailing social ills,” he said, adding that they sensitize the public toward social harm on the one hand and mislead policymakers in choosing the proper course of action on the other.
“The mass media should take the responsibility to raise awareness on such key issues.”
The official added that there are standard indices to measure the rise and fall in social harm, but the main challenge is to reach a consensus over the definition of each social injury.  “For instance, child labor, street children and working children have different definitions but commonly fall under the same category.”    
He listed lack of intersectoral coordination, absence of reliable data as well as the poor footprint of civil society as some obstacles in the way of addressing and curtailing social harm.
Kordooni urged academia and scholars to assist policymakers by looking into the root causes of social injuries.

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