Blog open to all young people and those trying to help and support them through psychological issues, mental health problems and crisis points in their lives. Provides expert knowledge, information and advice from informed practice, research and publication.
Cyber-bullying is one of the major threats to the mental
health of young people according to a group of young researchers at the
National Children's Bureau. A
survey by the charity Beatbullying found that nearly one third of all 11-16
year olds have been bullied online, and for 25 per cent of those the bullying
The consequences range from young people developing anxiety, depression and
self-harming behaviours - through to suicide.
Cyberbullying has increased dramatically in recent years.19%
of regular Internet users between the ages of 10 and 17 reported being involved
in online aggression; 15% had been aggressors, and 7% had been targets; 3% were
both aggressors and targets. 17% of 6-11 year olds and 36% of 12-17 year olds
reported that someone said threatening or embarrassing things about them in
e-mails, instant messages, web sites, chat rooms or text messages.
Very little research has been done to investigate the issue
of cyber-bullying. But it is as harmful if not more harmful than the usual
forms of bullying due to the secret nature of the attack, the invasion of
personal space and the fact that potentially harmful messages can be displayed
to a large audience in minutes. Many school students involved in cyber-bullying
can be unaware of what they are contributing to. School anti-bullying policies
are not effective in stopping it because of the special nature of this form of
bullying which allows those involved in passing on hurtful material to feel
Cyberbullying has been defined as: the use of information
and communication technologies such as e-mail, cell phone and pager text
messages, instant messaging, defamatory personal Web sites, blogs, online games
and defamatory online personal polling Web sites, to support deliberate,
repeated, and hostile behaviour by an individual or group that is intended to
harm others. Cyber-bullying includes a large variety of behaviour and
situations, such as sharing embarrassing images or videos, sending abusive text
messages or stealing online identities to cause problems for the victim via
As well as the rate and frequency of bullying emerging as
important factors, another significant variable in evaluating the impact and
consequences of being bullied is the length of time of ‘the bullying
relationship’. Few studies have been able to follow up research with bullies
but one study found that among a group of students who had been identified as
persistent bullies 70% had received criminal convictions by the time they were
24 years old.
More than 80% of children in the UK
have access to home computers and more than 75% of children aged eleven own a
mobile phone so the scope for bullying in this way is huge. The proportion who
report being cyber-bullied (19.7%) is similar to that found in other studies globally.
Young people feel that
cyber-bullying consists of traditional bullying methods such as ‘harassment’,
‘antagonising’, ‘tormenting’, ‘threatening’ via different forms of technology.
Respondents identified ‘intentionality’ as an important feature of
Overwhelmingly young people agreed that it was as harmful:
is basically still verbal bullying and is definitely psychological bullying.
Any bullying is psychological though, really. And any bullying is going to be
“Just because it isn't in real life
doesn't mean the emotional distress caused is any less” (Boy).
and in some cases that it was worse because the bullying is
in black and white, could get very personal, has the potential to involve many
more people much more quickly and has a degree of secrecy about it which in
turn can create fear in the victim. In addition because cyber-bullying can take
place at any time and in any place, options for escape are limited. Or as one
girl said: “There is no hiding place from cyber-bullying”
and resources need to be developed in a Public Health context to support young
people to report incidents of cyber-bullying through other young people who
could help change attitudes and provide a source of peer support. Therapeutic methods
and models used by health and social care staff may require changing, adapting
or enhancing to reflect the particular characteristics of both bullies and
victims of cyber-bullying and their needs.
and Political pressure needs to be exerted on multi-million pound social media companies
and organisations that promote and profit from internet use to act more responsibly
in their duty of care to customers and to be pro-active in combating harm being
conducted via their websites/chatrooms and social networking forums. Public Health
and education policies and practice that take a holistic approach and which
stress the importance of developing values of co-operation, care and kindness
amongst young people, rather than competition and individuality need to be
designed, developed and implemented sooner rather than later as the digital
world contributes to the further isolation and self-centred context of the
emotional and psychological development of young people.
impact of cyber bullying on the mental health of young people. London, National
Children's Bureau. (2010).
Violence: Protecting Children from Cyber-bullying, London, Beatbullying. (2009).
Friendship and loneliness among bullies and
victims- data from seven countries, Aggressive
Behaviour, 30: 71-83. (2003).