Around One in Five Children aged 10-15 Years has Experienced Online Bullying
A recent report from the ONS, taken from their national crime survey, tells us that around one in five children aged 10 to 15 years in England and Wales experienced at least one type of online bullying behaviour in the year ending March 2020. 19% of the children polled confirmed they had experienced online bullying, equivalent to 764,000 children.
What is online bullying?
There is no legal definition of bullying, but it is often described as behaviour that hurts someone else, physically or emotionally, and can happen anywhere – at school, at home or online.
In the survey, children were first asked to identify any nasty things that had happened to them or been done to them from a list of behaviours commonly recognised as bullying. Children were later separately asked whether or not they would describe their experiences mentioned as “bullying”.
What did children report?
Children reported experiencing bullying behaviours through being sent messages, images or videos. Other methods included posting online messages, images or videos about children, contacting children in a chatroom, and through online games. The percentages for these methods varied for each type of online bullying behaviour.
Being called names, sworn at or insulted and having nasty messages about them sent to them were the two most common online bullying behaviour types, experienced by 10% of all children aged 10 to 15 years. Of these, 20% of children reported experiencing it every day or a few times a week, and an additional 20% of children experienced it once or twice a week.
Who is Most Affected?
The prevalence of online bullying was significantly higher for children with a long-term illness or disability (26%) than those without (18%). Slightly more girls than boys reported online bullying (20% rather than 17%).
Where is it Happening?
Nearly three out of four children (72%) who had experienced an online bullying behaviour experienced at least some of it at school or during school time.
How Do They Feel?
22% of children aged 10 to 15 years who had experienced a type of online bullying behaviour said that they were emotionally affected a lot by these incidents. A further 47% said that they were a little affected. That means 7 in 10 of children who are bullied online are affected by it.
Are Children Getting Help?
Worryingly, more than half (52%) of those children who experienced online bullying behaviours said they would not describe these behaviours as bullying, and one in four (26%) did not report their experiences to anyone. Boys were much more likely not to report the behaviour than girls with 34% of boys not reporting these experiences to anyone compared with 15% of girls.
Children most commonly reported their online bullying experiences to parents (56%), while 19% reported it to other family members. One in three children (32%) reported it to their teachers, and 18% reported it to another member of staff. Helplines were used by 1% of children to report online bullying behaviours they had experienced, while 15% of children reported these experiences to someone else.
The Risk to Children
Sophie Sanders from the Office for National Statistics Centre for Crime and Justice, the statistician who complied the report, says “Greater use of smartphones, social media and networking applications means online bullying can follow a child anywhere they go”. She further points out that the statistics were collected before the coronavirus pandemic and “children’s isolation at home and increased time spent on the internet is likely to have had a substantial impact on the split between real world and cyber bullying”.