A McCreary Centre Society report suggests more than 20% of cyberbullied youth in B.C. have attempted suicide. The report also found that victims of cyberbullying are 10 times likelier to bully others themselves.
The report called “Untangling the web: Online safety and sexting among BC youth” polled 30,000 12 to 19-year-old B.C. students on everything from bullying to suggestive text messages. It found one in five girls and one in 10 boys had met someone online who made them feel unsafe and there were similar percentages of those who said they were cyberbullied in the past year.
Youth who are cyberbullied, met someone unsafe online, or who sexted were more likely to have poorer mental health, states the report. They even miss school for fear of bullying.
“When we took these results back to young people, they told us that for the most part they really don’t know how to protect themselves online or what to do when they have a bad experience,” said Annie Smith with the McCreary Centre Society in a statement.
“They are looking to the adults in their life to support and guide them through this, but often feel that adults don’t know what to do either, other than telling them to turn their computer off, which is just not realistic for most teenagers.”
The report noted the more time a youth spends online, the more likely they are to feel unsafe, and while 20% of cyberbullied youth with strong support from an adult say they’ve attempted suicide, that number jumps to 50% without support.
“I think the report also clearly shows us it is often much more complicated than being either a victim or a perpetrator, and that we need to increase young people’s awareness about how their online behaviour might affect others,” said Smith.
The full report is available here.