A new survey by anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label has discovered that levels of bullying online may be significantly higher than previously thought.
The report, which sampled 10,068 youngsters between the ages of 13 and 22. was conducted in association with social networking/gaming site Habbo Hotel.
Ditch the Label founder Liam Hacket set up the Annual Cyber Bullying Survey with the company after it was found that more than 30,000 youths were visiting the charity’s virtual help page on the Habbo site each week.
“In February, we launched our groundbreaking Annual Bullying Survey 2013 research taken from over 2,000 British teenagers. We found that cyberbullying was a growing trend within the sphere of bullying and we were naturally inclined to investigate further,” said Hacket in the report, “In short, we have identified that cyberbullying is not just a passing “phase” and is having a profound impact upon the lives of millions across the country. Cyberbullying is seriously damaging the self-esteem and future prospects of young people and is an issue that we cannot afford to overlook.”
The survey, which had a roughly equal number of male and female respondents, discovered that both genders were bullied in equal numbers with 1 in 5 saying the level of abuse that they had been subjected to was ‘extreme’. Those who identified themselves as transgender were even more likely to suffer abuse.
When social network use was examined it became apparent that the largest percentage of victims experienced bullying on Facebook with 54% saying that had been subjected to abuse on the world’s largest such site. In contrast, the next two most trafficked sites by kids – YouTube and Twitter – yielded bullying rates of 21% and 28% respectively, according to those who took part in this survey. Users of MySpace reported that a whopping 89% of them were abused on the site though only 4% of youngsters are signed up for that service.
Analysis of the age ranges of those who had reported being abused shows that the number of incidents, and their severity, changed little over the age spectrum. For every age between 13 and 22 the results show that two thirds to three quarters of those questioned had experienced frequent occasions of online bullying. Roughly one quarter of all respondents, irrespective of age, had experienced extreme cyberbullying on a daily basis.
When questioned as to the effects of cyberbullying those polled said the following areas had been impacted, with scores on a 1 (no impact) to 10 (extreme impact) scale –
- self-esteem – 7.65
- social life – 6.34
- optimism – 5.98
- studying – 4.98
- home life – 4.77
- career prospects – 3.73
There are hopes that the report will be used to educate and inform teens and teachers, as well as social networks and even governments.
“Zero tolerance policies absolutely must be established and implemented within all social networks, especially those with high incident ratios as identified within this report,” said Hacket, “Greater investment needs to be made into education, particularly to highlight the criminalities of cyberbullying and to teach young people on exactly what they should do if they either fall victim to, or witness cyberbullying.”
Considering the misery that cyberbullying causes to the victims I can only hope that these staggeringly high figures push at least a few people and organisations to take the matter more seriously.
In the meantime if you, or someone you know, is being bullied then you can find the Ditch the Label bullying support area on Habbo, or download their help guide here.
Alternatively, and for more urgent assistance,
contact Childline on 0800 1111