The kinder, gentler nation to our north has revealed the results of a new teen cyberbullying study, and in summary it contains some red flags and some significant positives. The survey, conducted by Canadian communications company Telus, along with MediaSmarts and PREVNet, took the pulse of 800 teens between 12 and 18 on the topic of electronic bullying.
Areas of concern from the survey:
- 42% of teens surveyed had experienced cyberbullying in the prior 4 weeks, and 60% had witnessed it happen to someone else
It is worth noting that the former number is very high. Most other recent surveys indicate that the number of teens experiencing cyberbullying runs between 10 and 25%. We doubt very much that overall bullying is more prevalent in Canada than in the U.S. – the higher numbers are probably (we hope) a product of how the questions were asked, i.e. “Have you been subjected to something online that made you feel bad?” would likely elicit a higher number of positive responses than, “Have you been cyberbullied online the last 4 weeks?”
Another difference in this survey is that boys (45%) were more likely to experience cyberbullying than girls (38%). Just this week, a UK survey indicated that female teen cyberbullying is more common.
The results weren’t all negative. The positives:
- Overall, 71% of respondents had intervened at least once when witnessing cyberbullying
- 58% feel that they would do something each time they witness cyberbullying
- Even if they didn’t know the victim personally, 37% said that they would intervene
He number of teens taking action is much higher in this study that in others we’ve seen, which is good news. Teens responding to bullying were more likely to privately comfort the victim (71%) than privately (47%) or publicly (37%) confront the bully. That’s not all bad – taking matters into your own hands is a risky endeavor.
Incidentally, of the teens surveyed, 67% think that they get helpful advice from adults on handling cyberbullying, and 57% of teens think that going to a parent or teacher is likely to help. Of course, it would be great if those numbers were closer to 100%. As parents, we must try to keep the lines of communication open and offer support and guidance when we can.
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