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'Digital bullying' threatens kids

One in five kids has been bullied or threatened via their mobile phone or computer, according to a study by U.K. children's charity NCH.

Bullying by text message was the most common form of abuse reported, with 14 percent of kids interviewed saying they had received upsetting messages on their mobile phones.

The survey, titled "Putting U in the Picture (PDF file)," collated responses from 770 youngsters ages 11 to 19. One in 10 said someone had used a camera phone to snap their picture in a way that made them feel uncomfortable, embarrassed or threatened. Of those, 17 percent believed the images had been forwarded to others.

"A mobile phone is one of a child's most treasured personal possessions," the NHC said. "They tend to keep it on all the time. So if the mobile starts being used to harass a child, be it through text or camera phone bullying, it can seem like there is no escape."

To help young people who have experienced digital bullying, NCH and Tesco Mobile have launched an interactive Web site,, which identifies a variety of high-tech bullying tactics and offers guidelines for alerting authority figures, mobile phone networks, Internet service providers and more.

The organizations have also set up a 24-hour text message service. Kids can text the word "bully" to the service and receive a message containing advice and support.