A new study suggests the typical elements of playground bullying Mom and Dad endured aren’t always present in the cyberbullying that may affect their children.
The study, conducted by the University of British Columbia, also finds that cyberbullying is likely to be under-reported by students because they incorrectly believe the activity to be less harmful than physical bullying, according to a press release. As a result, the study suggests new anti-bullying initiatives enacted in several states may not effectively limit bullying that occurs online.
While “traditional” bullying usually brings with it a power (size or popularity) difference between bullies and victims, proactive targeting by the bully, and continued bullying over a period of time, cyberbullying often possesses none of those three traits, the report contends. The absence of those traits may be linked to the flexibility of online media, which can lead students to play the roles of bullies, victims, and witnesses interchangeably.
Further, while the study involving about 17,000 students in Vancouver, British Columbia, in grades 8-12 showed 25 to 30 percent of them to have experienced or participated in cyberbullying, only 5 percent said they felt such activity was anything more than a harmless joke.
A version of this article appeared in the June 13, 2012 edition of Digital Directions as Study: Cyberbullying Different From Physical Bullying