A recent Study conducted for The Australian Government Department of Communications estimated that in Australia, approximately 1 in every 5 children aged 8-17 had experienced cyberbullying, with most victims being cyberbullied once or twice in a twelve month period. It is possible that the number is actually much higher than this, with a lack of a clear definition and poor understanding of what constitutes cyberbullying contributing to low rates of reporting.
The study suggested there may be a difference in cyberbullying methods between the sexes, with boys more likely to post offensive material and send abusive emails and girls more likely to exclude people from social media groups and spread false rumours.
Cyberbullying first emerged as an issue in the early 2000’s, and has been rapidly increasing ever since. The increase has been attributed to the increasing number of children and young people having access to the internet and to smart phones, and their increasing use of online methods to communicate.
One major perception amongst children and teens that may also be a contributing factor to the rise in cyberbullying, is that it is more difficult to detect, with bullies assuming they can stay anonymous.
It is possible that a lot of cyberbullies lack an awareness of the serious effects their actions have on their victims, with some studies indicating that cyberbullying may have more serious effects than face to face bullying as it is likely to involve more exposure and humiliation, can last longer and is difficult to escape from.
Simply telling your child or teen to ignore the bullying is not enough. Find out about what you can do to protect your child from cyberbullying at our ‘For Parents’ page.