Cyberbullying hits high school students at a shocking rate, with one in six saying that they’ve been a victim of electronic bullying sometime in the last 12 months. That’s one of the harsh statistics being presented Sunday at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) conference in Washington, D.C.
The research team based their statistics on an analysis of data from the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey of over 15,000 private and public high school students. The students were asked to report if they had been a victim of any form of cyberbullying, including through email, chat rooms, instant messaging, internet forums, or texting.
Twenty-two percent — more than one in five — girls reported being cyberbullied. Only about 11 percent of boys were victims. White students reported being victims twice as often as black students.
Girls were at higher risk even though they didn’t use computers for something other than school as long or as frequently as boys. About 35 percent of boys spent more than three hours a day using a computer for something other than schoolwork. Roughly 27 percent of girls did the same.
Lead investigator Karen Ginsburg said that the study should help identify children who are at higher risk for being cyberbullied, allowing parents and teachers to figure out better ways to fight electronic bullying.
“Electronic bullying is a very real yet silent danger that may be traumatizing children and teens without parental knowledge,” she said.
To a certain extent, the study contradicts a very large 2012 study of 450,000 US students in grades three through 12. That study suggested that cyberbullying had been somewhat overstated in the media and that most bullying still begins in the real world.
One of the researchers, Dan Olweus, said that his team found that about 18 percent of students had been bullied in real life, while only five percent were victims of cyberbullying.
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