Computer Crime Research Center


Cyber-bullying common

Date: October 07, 2008

Many teenagers say they are the victims of online bullying, but few tell their parents or other adults, according to a study by UCLA researchers.

Moreover, teens who are on the brunt end of cyber-bullying are the same ones who are being bullied at school, the study found.

"Bullying on the Internet looks similar to what kids do face-to-face in schools," said lead study author Jaana Juvonen, who chairs UCLA’s developmental psychology program. "The Internet is not functioning as a separate environment but is connected with the social lives of kids in school. ... Especially among heavy users of the Internet, cyber-bullying is a common experience, and the forms of online and in-school bullying are more alike than different."

The research is based on an anonymous survey of 1,454 participants, aged 12 to 17, recruited through a popular teen website in 2005. Nearly three in four teens said they were bullied at least once during a previous 12-month period, while only one in 10 reported the abuse to parents. The findings appear in the September issue of the Journal of School Health.

The most common reason for not telling an adult is that teens believe they need to "learn to deal with it." Many also said they were concerned their parents might restrict their Internet access or that they could get into trouble with their parents.

The most prevalent kinds of bullying online and in school were name-calling or insults, followed by password theft and intimidations such as threats, sending embarrassing pictures, sharing privare information without permission and spreading nasty rumors.

Juvonen said that adults may overestimate the risk of bullying online and downplay the risk in school. Of those who experienced cyber-bullying, 51% said it was done by schoolmates. Schools should do more to address both instances, including teaching students how to cope and respond, Juvonen said.
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