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Cyberbullying Not On the Rise, According To Study

A new study throws cold water on the idea that “cyberbullying” is growing in prevalence and overtaking traditional bullying. In reality, most bullying still happens verbally or physically–not over the Internet or via text messages. According to the study:

“To be cyberbullied or to cyberbully other students seems to a large extent to be part of a general pattern of bullying where use of the electronic media is only one possible form, and, in addition, a form with a quite low prevalence,” the study says. “These results also suggest that even if most cyberbullying actually occurs outside school hours, as has been documented in several other surveys, many—very likely, most—episodes of cyberbullying originate in the school setting.” …

Olweus writes that because traditional bullying is far more common than cyberbullying and that the great majority of cyberbullied students are also bullied in more typical ways, “it is natural to recommend schools to direct most of their efforts to counteracting traditional bullying,” ideally using an evidence-based approach. His research has found that levels of electronic bullying decline along with traditional bullying in these schools.

While it is important for schools to always work toward safer environments for children, it’s worth recognizing that there is no cyberbullying epidemic, and that many legislative responses to incidents of cyberbullying are overreactions. Rates of suicide among teenagers are always decreasing, and young people face less violence in school and at home than arguably ever before in human history.

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