Kids keep parents in the dark about cyberbullying

A study finds that online bullying is pervasive among teenagers, but few report the incidents to their parents or other adults.

Online bullying could be more pervasive than you think.

Three out of four teens were bullied online over the last year, according to a study released this week by psychologists at the University of California at Los Angeles. And while that number may seem high at the outset, only 1 in 10 of those kids told their parents or another adult about it, the study showed.

The anonymous Web-based study surveyed 1,454 kids between the ages of 12 and 17. Of those, 41 percent reported between one and three cyberbullying incidents during the year; 13 percent reported four to six incidents; and 19 percent reported seven or more. In other words, no longer are victims of bullying relegated to the geeks and nerds of yore when it comes to the Internet.

The psychologists published the results of their research in the September issue of the Journal of School Health.

Many teens neglected to tell their parents about the incidents because they believed they "need to learn to deal with it," according to the research. Others kept it to themselves because they feared that their parents would cut back on their Internet access.

"Many parents do not understand how vital the Internet is to their social lives," said Jaana Juvonen, lead study author and a professor of psychology and chair of UCLA's developmental psychology program. "Parents can take detrimental action with good intentions, such as trying to protect their children by not letting them use the Internet at all. That is not likely to help parent-teen relationships or the social lives of their children."

Juvonen said it's important that parents talk with their kids about bullying well before it happens, as well as look for changes in teens' behavior.

However, it's also equally important to teach children the importance of not becoming bullies themselves, is it not? Surely if bullying is this prevalent online, it's not always a one-sided affair.

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About the author

Desiree Everts DeNunzio is a freelance editor and writer. She's dabbled in digital media and technology for the past decade, including stints at CNET News and Wired magazine. When she's not fiddling with various gadgets, she spends her time running after chickens and her own brood.

 

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