Nearly half of young people have experienced cyber bullying

Nearly half of young people aged 11-25 years have experienced threatening, intimidating or nasty messages via social media, email or texts, according to a survey by Young Minds

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Young Minds and The Children’s Society, have carried out a survey of 1,000 children and young people aged 11-25 to hear about their views and experiences of bullying online.

More than a third of young people (37%) said they had experienced online bullying in their lifetime versus 47% of those who had reported offline bullying experiences.

An overwhelming majority of young people surveyed (83%) said that social media companies should do more to tackle cyberbullying on social media.

More than half (59%) of young people had their first social media account at the age of 12, despite guidelines for social media sites stating that you must be 13 years old to have an account.

Nearly half (45%) said they spent more than three hours per day on social media.

The Young Minds inquiry aims to look at what social media companies are doing to tackle such behaviour on their platforms, and whether the industry is going far enough to protect children and young people on their sites.

More detail: An Inquiry into the Impact of Cyberbullying on Social Media on Children and Young People’s Mental Health

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Cyberbullying: comparatively rare, not especially damaging or pernicious

A frequently voiced fear is about the use of social media and in particular the extent to which children and young people are vulnerable to bullying on social media. After all, ‘everyone knows’ that cyberbullying is a major problem for young people, don’t they? | Mental Elf Blog

This study addressed two key questions:

  • First, how common are different types of bullying, including cyberbullying?
  • Second, what is the association between different types of bullying and well-being?

Of concern is the finding that almost a third (30%) of 15 year olds reported that they were regularly bullied. Girls were more likely than boys to report all types of bullying except physical bullying. Of interest, cyberbullying was not common; under 4% of young people reported any form of regular cyberbullying. In addition, almost everyone who reported cyberbullying also reported being bullied in traditional ways; fewer than 1% of young people reported being cyberbullied with no experience of other forms of bullying. This suggests that cyberbullying simply adds another method to the bully’s arsenal and that the same children are likely to be bullied, regardless of the method used.

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However, even if it is rare, cyber-bullying might be especially damaging to young people; unlike other types of bullying it is harder to avoid, can be anonymous, and can happen anywhere and at any time. The authors examined the association between different types of bullying and well-being. After controlling for the effects of gender, material deprivation and ethnicity, bullying accounted for 5% of the variance in well-being; the relationship between cyber-bullying and well-being was weaker and accounted for only 0-1% of well-being. Therefore the assumption that cyberbullying is especially damaging or pernicious was not supported by these data.

Social media abuse affects almost half of girls in UK

Nearly half (48%) of girls aged 11-18 in the UK and two-fifths of boys have experienced some form of harassment or abuse on social media | OnMedica

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Image source: Plan

The findings, based on a survey commissioned by girls’ rights charity Plan International UK, have prompted fears that young people, and girls in particular, are being forced to withdraw from social media due to fear of criticism, harassment or abuse. The charity today launches the #girlsbelonghere campaign to tackle the problem.

The survey revealed boys are significantly less likely than girls to experience abuse, with 40% reporting a negative experience. They are also less likely (59%) to take evasive actions to avoid being criticised such as refraining from posting on social media or holding back their opinions.

For the survey, research agency Opinium contacted 1,002 young people aged 11-18. Some 235 of the 486 girls and 202 of the 510 boys who responded reported online abuse.

The role of family and school-level factors in bullying and cyberbullying

This UK study aims to investigate student-level and school-level characteristics of those who become involved in bullying and cyberbullying behaviours as victims or perpetrators | BMC Pediatrics

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Background: Bullying and cyberbullying are common phenomena in schools. These negative behaviours can have a significant impact on the health and particularly mental health of those involved in such behaviours, both as victims and as bullies.

Conclusions: Bullying victimization and cyberbullying prevalence vary across school type and school quality, supporting the hypothesis that organisational/management factors within the school may have an impact on students’ behaviour. These findings will inform future longitudinal research investigating which school factors and processes promote or prevent bullying and cyberbullying behaviours.

Full reference: Leonardo B. et al. (2017) The role of family and school-level factors in bullying and cyberbullying: a cross-sectional study. BMC Pediatrics. Published: 11 July 2017

Suicide in children and young people linked to bereavement, new report finds

National suicide study also calls for better support for students, internet safety and services for children who self-harm.

The National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Health Illness (NCISH)  has published Suicide by children and young people: National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness.

This report examines findings from a range of investigations, such as coroner inquests, into the deaths by suicide of people aged under 25 between January 2014 and December 2015 in England and Wales, extracting information about the stresses they were facing when they died.

  • The report emphasises the emotional impact of bereavement on young people and recommends that bereavement support should be widely available.
  • The researchers call on universities to do more to promote mental health on campus and support students who may be at risk.
  • The study identifies the treatment of self-harm as the most important service response in preventing suicide in young people.

Additional link: HQIP press release

Emotional wellbeing of young people

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Public Health England has carried out a thematic analysis of the recent Health Behaviour in School Age Children (HSBC) survey exploring the rising trend in poorer emotional wellbeing of young people.

The reports cover self-harm; cyberbullying and the emotional wellbeing of adolescent girls.  They examine the data and explore what protective factors may exist in a young person’s life which may be linked to their mental health outcomes, ranging from personal attributes, family, school, peer and wider community context.

Public Health England has also produced a summary of data from the most recent HBSC survey.

Te reports can be downloaded below:

Teen bullying and cyberbullying study reveals significant issues impacting youth

The study used a nationally-representative sample to address various forms of bullying and cyberbullying, sexting and dating violence, as well as thoughts of suicide, deviant behavior, and resilience or coping mechanisms | ScienceDaily

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This most recent study of middle and high school students found that when it came to school bullying:

  • 73 percent of students reported that they had been bullied at school at some point in their lifetime; 44 percent said that it had happened in the last 30 days.
  • Girls were more likely to have been bullied at school, while boys were more likely to have bullied others.
  • 34 percent of students had experienced cyberbullying in their lifetime; 17 percent said that it had happened in the last 30 days.
  • 4 out of 5 of the students who were cyberbullied said that mean comments were posted about them online.
  • 70 percent of the students said that someone spread rumors about them online.
  • Notably, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the students who experienced cyberbullying said that it really affected their ability to learn and feel safe at school.
  • Girls were most likely to have been bullied online, with the exception of those with recent experiences (30 days); while boys were more likely to have bullied others online.

Read the full overview here