Cyberbullying is More Harmful than Traditional Bullying

I’ve been of the opinion for quite a while that cyberbullying is the form of bullying that does the most harm and is the hardest to address. By invading the home of the child, cyberbullying takes an environment that was traditionally safe and has ensured that victims of such bullying have nowhere to hide. Cyberbullying also reaches a far wider audience, replacing the half a dozen or so witnesses in a playground incident with literally thousands online.

Children think face-to-face bullying is more harmful than cyber bullying but new research shows that perception to be false.

Researchers from Queensland University of Technology surveyed over 3000 students in Years 6 to 12 from 30 schools nationally and found 45 per cent said they were bullied.

The victims of face-to-face bullying, often referred to as traditional bullying, reported it had harsher impacts than victims of cyber bullying. However, other signs show the opposite to be true.

Lead researcher, Associate Professor Marilyn Campbell, said victims of cyber bullying reported higher levels of anxiety and depression than children who had been bullied face-to-face.

“When we measured their social problems, children who had been cyber bullied had much higher scores than victims of traditional bullying but they didn’t see it themselves,” Campbell told Education Review.

Campbell said children were usually bullied by kids they knew and often because they were different.

“It’s a cycle. They go to school, they get bullied. They go home and get cyber bullied. They go back to school and are bullied again.”

It is absolutely vital that schools stop sitting on their hands and start becoming more proactive when it comes to fighting cyberbullying. Schools are quick to point out that since the bullying is done outside school gates it becomes a parenting issue rather than a school issue. That may be true when it comes to legal obligations but not moral obligations. Schools should be expected to do what they can to ensure that their students are protected from being harassed or bullied by other students, regardless of where the harassment takes place.

Schools have got to stop obsessing about potential lawsuits and handballing issues to other stakeholders. They must show they care and fight for the wellbeing of their students!

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