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Cyberbullying 'can decrease girls' engagement with learning'

22/03/2017 Joanna

The importance of tackling cyberbullying has been underlined by a new study that demonstrates the negative impact this behaviour can have on educational outcomes in girls.

Conducted by Nottingham Trent University, the research uncovered evidence that 11 to 15-year-old girls who are involved in cyberbullying - whether this is as a perpetrator, a victim or both - feel excluded by their peers, and are subject to negative perceptions of the importance of school and the value of learning.

For this study, 345 male and female pupils completed questionnaires measuring levels of cyberbullying involvement - such as sending and receiving threatening or offensive comments, unchecked rumours, and compromising or humiliating images or videos - over the last three months.

Female pupils who reported the highest levels of involvement in cyberbullying were shown to feel the least accepted by the peers, an association that predicted how they felt about school and learning more generally. The more acceptance girls received from the peers, the more likely they were to be able to dismiss and deal with the effects of cyberbullying and enjoy school, without participating in virtual attacks.

By contrast, among boys, it was only the students who had been involved in cyberbullying as both bully and victim that felt more negatively about their schooling. These findings support the emerging view that involvement in cyberbullying undermines young people's peer relationships and educational performance, with previous studies showing that young people who experience cyberbullying are more likely to avoid school.

Dr Lucy Betts, lead researcher of the study, said: "In the past, bullying experiences were often confined to school and would end with the school day. Despite cyberbullying occurring outside the school environment, however, we know that its impact is likely to spill over into school, and this is particularly the case for young women."

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