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Hannah Smith: What exactly is cyberbullying and how prevalent is it?

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Not just youth and not mostly online: A 2010 US national survey published by WorkplaceBullying.org indicates that, with 35 percent of adult workers in the US having experienced it, bullying is at least as big a problem among adults as among youth. Compare that to data about youth bullying cited in an issue brief by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC): that in-person bullying is still greater than cyberbullying, with 32 percent of 12- to 18-year-olds having experienced bullying offline and 4 percent of the same sample having experience cyberbullying. “Another study found that approximately 13% of students in grades 6-10 reported being cyberbullied,” it added.

Other research shows higher figures for cyberbullying – the Cyberbullying Research Center puts the figure at 24 percent of young people, on average, across multiple studies – but still lower than offline bullying. David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center (CCRC) at University of New Hampshire, confirms this in his 2013 report “Trends in Bullying and Peer Victimization.”

Not a growing problem: What we never see in the news is reports that bullying is in decline in the US (I doubt the picture is much different in the UK). “The surveys that reflect change over the longest time periods, going back to the early 1990s, consistently show declines in bullying and peer victimization, some of it remarkably large,” Dr. Finkelhor wrote in his report last January.

Right on the first page of the report is a chart showing a 74 percent decline in violent victimization at school among 12- to 17-year-olds between 1992 and 2011, the latest available data from the US Department of Justice. (I'll shortly be blogging about more great research on bullying from the CCRC.)

Bullying and suicide

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