Cyberbullying ‘neither an epidemic nor a rarity’: Researchers

By Anne Collier

This has been stated before but not seen (or reported) enough: Cyberbullying is not an epidemic, even though news reports about it seem to have reached epidemic proportions. The last six surveys of “random samples” of students nationwide by two of the US’s top researchers on the subject – Profs. Justin Patchin and Sameer Hinduja of the Cyberbullying Research Center – found that 18.8-29.2% (“average 23.9%”) of students had been cyberbullied, Dr. Patchin reported in their blog.

“Our friends at the Crimes Against Children Research Center [CCRC] at the University of New Hampshire have collected data from students across the U.S. in 2000, 2005, and 2010 and saw a modest but steady increase in cyberbullying between 2000 and 2010 (from 6% to 11%),” but the CCRC do point out that social media emerged and their use among teens grew during that same period as well.

View of bullying research pioneer

Patchin also pointed out that “Prof. Dan Olweus, who has done more to advance the scholarship of school bullying than anyone else in the world” argues that cyberbullying is “basically a low-frequent phenomenon” and argues that there hasn’t been a marked increase in cyberbullying in the past 5-6 years.

“So where does this leave us?” Patchin asks? “Professor Olweus is right that cyberbullying isn’t some new phenomenon that is completely distinct from the bullying that has been perpetrated by and toward teens for generations. But it is occurring at levels that demand our attention and initial evidence suggests that it is increasing. We know that most cyberbullying is connected to offline relationships and that most teens who cyberbully also bully at school.”

Here’s the parenting piece

Something else we now know from researchers in Australia: The ethics that guide our children (and all of us) in everyday life are the same online and on any digital device. The authors of the new study “Enhancing Parents’ Knowledge and Practice of Online Safety” from the Young & Well Cooperative Research Centre write that, “rather than sliding into a moral vacuum when they go online, young people draw upon the same moral framework that shapes their offline engagements. This underlines the importance of parents continuing to have open and ongoing conversations with young people about their online activities that reiterate their family’s values” (see this [I’ve just found that links to the study from both Google and my post are broken; I’m waiting to hear if they’ll be fixed]).

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