Cyber bullying a global problem - poll

2012-01-12 08:49

New York - More than 10% of parents around the world say their child has been cyber bullied and nearly one-fourth know a youngster who has been a victim, according to a new poll.

And more than three-quarters of people questioned in the global survey thought cyber bullying differed from other types of harassment and warranted special attention and efforts from parents and schools.

"The data clearly shows an appetite among global citizens for a targeted response to cyber bullying," said Keren Gottfried, of the global research firm Ipsos, which conducted the poll.

But, she added, whether or not schools live up to this mandate is in the hands of educators.

The online poll of more than 18 000 adults in 24 countries, 6 500 of whom were parents, showed the most widely reported vehicle for cyber bullying was social networking sites likes Facebook, which were cited by 60%.

Suicides

Mobile devices and online chat rooms were a distant second and third, each around 40%.

While the report showed that awareness of cyber bullying was relatively high, with two-thirds saying they heard, read or had seen information on the phenomenon, cultural and geographic differences abounded.

In Indonesia, 91% said they knew about cyber bullying, in which a child, group of children or younger teen intentionally intimidates, threatens or embarrasses another child or group through the use of information technology such as social media or mobile devices.

Australia followed at 87%, while Poland and Sweden trailed slightly behind. But only 29% in Saudi Arabia, and 35% in Russia, had heard of cyber bullying.

In the US, where cases of cyber bullying have been widely reported to have been linked to teen suicides, the figure was 82%.

Gottfried described the survey as the first global study of its kind and a benchmark to where assessments of cyber bullying vary.

"The key to this study is that it measures parental awareness of cyber bullying, not actual rates of the behaviour," she said.

"While we can't speculate on what actually happens, it is quite possible that the proportion of children actually being cyber bullied is in fact understated, since we are speaking with the parents, not the kids."

In India 32% of parents said their child had experienced cyber bullying, followed by 20% in Brazil and 18% in Canada and Saudi Arabia and 15% in the US.

The highest incidence of people knowing of a child in the community being targeted was in Indonesia, with 53%. But only 14% there said their child had been cyber bullied - less than in Canada, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and the US.

Overall, parents in France and Spain reported some of the lowest incidence of cyber bullying either of their own child or one in their community.

Gottfried said that future studies could show whether there was a trend toward greater awareness of cyber bullying, and shed some light on what affects parental awareness.


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