MONDAY, April 23 (HealthDay News) -- Cyberbullying is different
than traditional bullying, and anti-bullying programs need to use
specific measures to combat online aggression, a new Canadian study
Cyberbullying is aggression that takes place online and through
"There are currently many programs aimed at reducing bullying in schools, and I think there is an assumption that these programs deal with cyberbullying as well," Jennifer Shapka, an associate professor in the education faculty at the University of British Columbia, said in a university news release.
"What we're seeing is that kids don't equate cyberbullying with traditional forms of schoolyard bullying," Shapka said. "As such, we shouldn't assume that existing interventions will be relevant to aggression that is happening online."
Shapka and colleagues looked at 17,000 students in grades eight
to 12 in Vancouver and found that 25 percent to 30 percent of them
reported they had experienced or taken part in cyberbullying, while
12 percent said they had participated in or experienced schoolyard
According to the students, however, "95 percent of what happens
online was intended as a joke and only 5 percent was intended to
harm," Shapka said.
"It is clear that youth are underestimating the level of harm associated with cyberbullying," she added.
The findings suggest that students play multiple roles -- as
bullies, victims and witnesses -- in cyberbullying and "downplay
the impact of it, which means that existing education and
prevention programs are not going to get through to them," Shapka
"Students need to be educated that this 'just joking' behavior has serious implications," she said.
The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American
Educational Research Association, which ended April 17 in
Data and conclusions presented at meetings should be considered
preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
The National Crime Prevention Council has more about