August 2, 2011

1 In 5 British Teens Victim Of Cyber-bullying: Study

Nearly twenty percent of British children have been the victim of cyber-bullying, with many victims saying the experience has damaged their confidence, mental health and school attendance, the Telegraph reported on Monday.

Researchers at Anglia Ruskin University questioned 500 adolescents aged 11 to 19, and found that 18.4 percent had been subjected to cyber-bullying, in which a person torments or intimidates another via the Internet or a mobile phone.

Girls were more affected than boys, with 22 percent of the 273 girls questioned having been subjected to cyber-bullying, while just 13.5 percent of the 200 boys questioned had experienced it. 

Roughly two thirds, or 66 percent, of the respondents said they had witnessed cyber-bullying, or knew someone who has been a victim.

The 87 study participants who had been victims of cyber-bullying were asked to describe the impact the experience had on them.

About one-third said it had affected their confidence "quite a lot" or "very" much, while slightly more than half, or 52 percent, said cyber-bullying had affected their mental and emotional wellbeing.  

Some 29 percent said the experience had caused them to stay away from school, while 39 percent had stopped socializing outside of school.

Of the 188 participants who answered a question about whether they would seek help with cyber-bullying, only 45 percent said they would, with the remainder saying they would not seek help out of fear of making their situation worse, or saying they would be able to deal with the problem on their own.

The youngsters who had been cyber-bullied were most likely to seek help from parents and friends, the study found.

"While most online interactions are neutral or positive, the Internet provides a new means through which children and young people are bullied," said Steven Walker, the study's lead researcher.

"Many of the respondents in our study thought that cyber-bullies do not actually think they are bullying. In the main they thought that cyber-bullying was seen by bullies as merely a form of 'harmless fun', a joke and therefore not an issue," the Telegraph quoted him as saying.

"Others thought cyber-bullies are motivated by a lack of confidence and a desire for control, perhaps because they are too cowardly to bully face-to-face."

"As the use of social media amongst young people continues to grow, unless properly addressed by host sites and Government agencies the problem of cyber-bullying is only likely to get worse."


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