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, cyberbullying 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 cyberbullying as a separate behaviour segment of bullying studies.
To properly track percentages of cyberbullying, it helps to have a clear definition of what behaviour counts. Most will agree that cyberbullying requires the use of harmful communication over the Internet. Both uses 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 cyberbullying 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 is bullied via cyberbullying methods.
- One-quarter of teens have experienced some kind of cyberbullying via their cell phones.
- Half of the teens will not tell their parents about cyberbullying experiences.
- Half of the teens have engaged in some kind of cyberbullying, even if it was just a minor form of it.
- 8 out of 10 teens use a cell phone, making them susceptible to cyberbullying simply by having the communication tool available and using it regularly.
While these statements are strong and convey an idea of cyberbullying prevalence, they do not actually report percentages of cyberbullying. 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 cyberbullying 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 cyberbullying, 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 cyberbullying 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. In this case, reporters often dredge up bullying numbers to emphasise how bad of a problem exists among children, goading civic leaders and teachers to do something about it via upset parents watching the news.