Out of every one hundred tweens and teens, how many do you think are cyberbullied? Twenty? Forty? Sixty? Actually, new research suggests that the actual figure may be much lower than we think.
A new presentation of the results of two studies to the American Psychological Association this week shows that only 15% of kids were actually cyberbullied. The two studies surveyed a total of 5,000 teens.
Most of you reading this will think this is an impossibly low figure. We hear about cyberbullying every single day. It is all over our schools and in the news. How can a 15% figure be realistic at all?
Of course this is a much lower figure than other studies, which often report that as many as 70% of kids ages 12-17 are victims of cyberbullying. The reason for the low numbers in this study is that it made a deliberate distinction between “cyberbullying” and “cyber-harassment.”
Cyber-harassment was defined as a one-time or isolated occurrence of mean or rude online behavior; cyberbullying, on the other hand, was defined as repeated attempts to harm or belittle by someone who is more powerful than the victim. This survey found that 41% of kids reported cyber-harassment; only 15% of teens reported true cyberbullying.
This is in contrast to popular zero-tolerance bullying policies at many of our schools, which can define any rude or cruel behavior online as cyberbullying, even if it only happens once.
Many surveys in the past have also asked kids questions like “Has anyone ever been mean or cruel to you online?” and reported that all those who answered 'yes' were cyberbullied.
So what is the right definition of cyberbullying, a word that is on the lips of every parent, teenager, and school administrator these days?
Whatever your answer, the important thing is what your child perceives going on in his world. If someone is making him uncomfortable or afraid, then he is being bullied – and it's your job to help him deal with it.
-Article Contributed by Jenny Evans