Monday, October 22, 2007

UK Cyberbullying Study

An article in the Cambridge Evening News cites a study from the Department of Children that "showed a massive one third of 12 to 15-year-olds had been victims of cyberbullying."

Used that quote to show that the word 'massive' was that of the reporter. I have to say that I disagree with the findings of the study and the use of the word massive. I disagree because it he uses the word massive to describe a statistic citing a 33% cyberbullying rate, what would he use to describe an 80-90% rate?

For quite a while, we at WiredSafety have been saying that the statistics are much higher than studies show, and at the risk of covering old territory, I'll explain my position.

There are two factors at work. The first is that many kids simply don't realize that they are being cyberbullied, because it is so pervasive that some kids just look at all but the worst instances as a normal part of online life. Unless the bullying is to the point where it is having a significant impact on their lives, they think it's something that happens to everyone.

Instead of simply asking kids have you ever been cyberbullied, we have to define all the different kinds of cyberbullying attacks and ask whether they have ever experience them. We are in the process of preparing a new free software tool that will do just that. I'll let you know when it's available.

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posted by Art @ 6:38 PM   2 comments


At 8:50 AM, Blogger Jeff Cooper said...

Hi Art,

I'd like to comment on your point that "kids simply don't realize that they are being cyberbullied." This seems a bit paradoxical at best to me.

Kids do trash talk each other constantly, sometimes it's serious, but sometimes it isn't. As adults living in this ludicrous world of zero tolerance, some might argue that anything bad constitutes cyberbullying, and what I'm gleaning here is that kids don't get it. I'm saying that maybe it's we adults who don't.

Frankly, I think we do a disservice at times in placing so much emphasis on this overbroad term. It's one of the many things which turn schools, parents, etc. off to the use of the Internet. If so much bad stuff happens here, why allow it at all?

Even though I'm peripherally involved with 5 Internet Safety sites, including WiredSafety, I don't involve myself much with it, focusing instead on proactive and positive uses of the Net for students, at sites such as Tapped In Davina Pruitt holds monthly meetings there on Cybersecurity and ethics... perhaps we could carry this conversation there some time.

At 10:44 AM, Blogger Art said...

I don't know that I disagree with all that you said. I think my point, which I failed to make, because of my stream of consciousness (or unconsciousness) writing, that kids don't relate what's happening to them as cyberbullying and as much as kids are missing the point, the adults are totally clueless. Perhaps missing the point paints a more serious picture than I intend. When I do the presentations, it's more of an ah-ha moment for some of them.

Yeah kids trash talk each other all the time, but the net makes it easy for that to escalate to many on one over a prolonged period. That's when the problems start.

Not enough is done about the face to face bullying in schools and you are absolutely right that we must be proactive. Punishment is not the answer. We have to educate.

I'm going to have to get back to Tappedin. Is it still text based communication or do they now have voice. I frequented it off and on since the mid 90's but moved away from it as I began giving classes using Adobe Connect. It's a LOT easier for me to talk than to type. LOL


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