TEENAGERS BELIEVE THAT cyber bullying is worse than traditional bullying.
The paper ‘Living in an ‘electronic age’: Cyberbullying among Irish adolescents’ by Pádraig Cotter and Sinéad McGilloway from NUI Maynooth took a closer look at cyber bullying in Irish schools.
They interviewed 122 pupils, aged 12 to 18 years, in two co-educational schools in the south and explored four main forms of cyber bullying - text message, email, phone call and picture/video clip.
The results revealed that 17 per cent of students admitted to being victims of cyber bullying while 9 per cent admitted to being the perpetrators.
The teens surveyed said cyber bullying was the worst kind of bullying because they “can’t escape it”, even when at home and because pictures and messages can be spread easily and quickly.
Pictures, video clips and phone calls were the worst type of cyber bullying according to the pupils, and less likely to be noticed by an adult in comparison with traditional bullying.
More than a quarter of cyber victims did not know who their cyber bullies were. Of those who did, the bully was typically a single female or a small number of females, from a different class, but in the same year as the victim.
Most respondents indicated that cyber bullying was short term, lasting only one to two weeks. However, four reported that it had gone on for a period of six months up to several years.
Cyber victims mostly confided in friends and parents, however six respondents said they had told nobody.
More than half of teens felt that banning mobile phones and internet use in school would not be helpful, as students would engage in bullying in private or after school.
Although cyber bullying was found to be less frequent than traditional bullying, mostly short-term, and seems to be lower in Ireland than in other countries, it’s becoming more prevalent because of the easy access to electronic forms of communication.
The study comes after three girls, Erin Gallagher (13) from Donegal, Leitrim teenager Ciara Pugsley (15) and Lara Burns Gibbs (12) from Kildare are believed to have taken their own lives after being bullied online.