In Bullying Statistics, Cyber Bullying

Percentages of Cyber Bullying Are Often Based on Very Limited Data

Bullying has been around for decades. Most people can remember an instance of it occurring in grade school or high school in at least every generation alive over the age of 20. That said, cyber bullying is a result of technology and smart devices becoming far more prevalent and available, as well as social media access on the Internet. As a result, experts are now tracking percentages of cyber bullying as a separate behavior segment of bullying studies.

To properly track percentages of cyber bullying, it helps to have a clear definition of what behavior counts. Most will agree that cyber bullying requires use of harmful communication over the Internet. Both use of computers and smart devices can be grouped into the same category, what matters is the use of email, electronic messaging or social media as the communication format. This practice can be in the form of texting, spreading conversations online in forums, stealing or hacking into an email account and sending false messages from it, faking an identity online, or spreading embarrassing photos of a person online.

When narrowed down as a category using the above criteria, percentages of cyber bullying begin to come into play as a subset of regular bullying statistics. It allows a number of measurements and powerful statements to be made based on the actual case figures. Such statements can and do include:

  • 1 out of 3 children are bullied via cyber bullying methods.
  • One quarter of teens have experienced some kind of cyber bullying via their cellphones.
  • Half of teens will not tell their parents about cyber bullying experiences.
  • Half of teens have engaged in some kind of cyber bullying, even if it was just a minor form of it.
  • 8 out of 10 teens use a cell phone, making them susceptible to cyber bullying simply by having the communication tool available and using it regularly.

While these statements are strong and convey an idea of cyber bullying prevalence, they do not actually report percentages of cyber bullying. They are summaries of percentages and actual statistical measurements.

To find actual statistics and representative percentages, one has to use actual research sources. These are hard to find because no agency is actually tracking cases of bullying across the country. Unlike crimes, which are counted from information provided regularly by police departments, bullying cases have no central repository of information. Instead, many agencies and non-profit groups base their percentages of cyber bullying on limited surveys or studies, usually limited to a small region or a few schools. Then, based on the results, an assumption is expanded or related to all children in a particular conclusion. So, if a survey is done on one or two high schools, and one-fourth of 10th graders say they have been victims of cyber bullying, it’s not uncommon to then see a statement that 25 percent of 10th graders are bullied on the Internet. The link involves a subtle but powerful leap of logic.

Percentages of cyber bullying are also brought to the limelight with spectacular cases that are horrible in and of themselves but in today’s news media gain a lot of attention. These are cases where a student has been harassed and bullied so much she feels the only solution is to commit suicide to stop the emotional pain. Students committed suicide before the Internet and computers as a result of bullying. However, the cases never gained as much attention as they do now in our instantly-accessible Internet world of immediate news. With the case, reporters often dredge up bullying numbers to emphasis how bad of a problem exists among children, goading civic leaders and teachers to do something about via upset parents watching the news.

Has everyone seen a cyber-bullying victim in their school today? The answer is likely, yes. Just like everyone has at least one child with a physical limitation or special needs condition in their school as well. However, the presence of one case doesn’t automatically equate to a conclusion of large percentages of cyber bullying based on actual data. So parents, teachers, educators and most importantly, students, need to take time to understand where such percentages come from. Doing otherwise could actually damage the message that bullying is wrong, dumping it in the same category as people who “cry wolf.”

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