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Cyberbullying 'remains much less common than in-person bullying'

07/08/2017 Joanna

A new study has indicated that conventional face-to-face bullying remains a much more prevalent issue than cyberbullying or other forms of online victimisation.

The Oxford Internet Institute study, which was published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, surveyed more than 120,000 English 15-year-olds, with the results challenging the perception that cyberbullying is becoming more common than in-person abuse.

Children were asked whether they had experienced bullying more than once or twice in the past two months, with 30 per cent saying they had been targeted by regular bullying of some form. 

However, only three per cent of those polled said their bullying had taken place across both online and offline channels, while fewer than one per cent of respondents said their experience of bullying was online-only.

This indicates that cyberbullying remains relatively rare compared to face-to-face bullying, and also that online victimisation rarely occurs without some kind of real-world interaction accompanying it.

However, the report did not downplay the impact that cyberbullying can have, as the lowest levels of wellbeing were reported by those 15-year-olds who had experienced both online and offline bullying.

Co-author Andrew Przybylski told the BBC: "The main takeaway here is that it doesn't make sense to think of cyberbullying as its own thing. If you're a parent or you're running a school or designing an intervention, [online and offline bullying] are two sides of the same coin."

Figures previously revealed by the NSPCC in its Childline bullying report for 2015-16 indicated that it has seen an 88 per cent increase in counselling about online bullying over the past five years, showing that this remains an issue that schools need to take seriously.

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