Virtual violence II: Progress and challenges in the fight against cyberbullying

22 February 2012

This UK report finds that 28% of 11-to-16-year-olds have been deliberately targeted, threatened or humiliated by an individual or group through the use of mobile phones or the internet.

The latest findings from Beatbullying reveal that 28% of 11-to-16-year-olds have been deliberately targeted, threatened or humiliated by an individual or group through the use of mobile phones or the internet. For over a quarter of these, this experience was ongoing, meaning that the individual was continuously targeted for bullying by the same person or group over a sustained period of time. This suggests that one-in-13 secondary-aged school children have experienced persistent and intentional cyberbullying.

Given that there are approximately 4,377,780 secondary-aged children in the UK (Office for National Statistics (ONS), 2011), these figures can be projected to suggest that 350,222 children may have suffered persistent and insidious bullying inflicted via technology. These findings closely mirror Beatbullying’s first Virtual Violence study delivered in November 2009 (Cross, Richardson, Douglas & von Kaenel-Flatt, 2009), and give us significant insight into the nature of this form of bullying in the UK.

Of those young people who reported being persistently cyberbullied, just under a quarter (23%) said that it lasted for a year or more and two-in-five (40%) said that it lasted for months or weeks. Over a quarter (26%) said that the bullying happened more than 10 times, over a tenth (14%) between six and 10 times, and a third (29%) between three and five times.

The findings also present an interesting insight into where the bullying originates. For those ‘persistently cyberbullied’, a quarter (26%) said that the bullying first happened online, but 44% said that it started offline (that is, the person was first targeted face-to-face and the bullying then continued online). While this indicates that ‘persistent cyberbullying’ still tends to originate offline and then follows the victim online, there is a notable decrease in how often this is occurring when compared to the original Virtual Violence study carried out in 2009 – which found two-thirds (62%) of those who were ‘persistently cyberbullied’ were first bullied offline. Indeed, within the total sample of those who had experienced cyberbullying, only two-in-five (20%) said that their experience was an extension of offline bullying, with a quarter (27%) saying that the bullying they had experienced had started online. Therefore, this would indicate that bullying is becoming an increasingly more common phenomenon that starts online, paving the way for more relentless attacks.

 

Source: Commissioned by Nominet Trust In Association with the National Association for Head Teachers (NAHT)

Beatbullying is a registered charity based in the UK.

Related links: Health and safety surrounding the everyday use of technology

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