Cyberbullying in numbers

In Dittes last post it became clear that bullying isn’t always so easy to detect. {See post} It is not always the big guy in class hitting the smaller child with braces and glasses or calling him names. It can be very subjective and can have many forms. This realization has only become more relevant in the past years and will become more important with the increase of cyberbullying.

Bullying is defined as aggressive and intentional actions against an individual by other individuals or groups. It is seen as an imbalance of power. Most research about bullying distinguished multiple dimensions within this broad definition. The common categories are often physical, verbal, indirect (bullying done via a third party, for example rumour spreading) and relational (bullying aimed at damaging someone’s peer relationships, for example social exclusion). Since the last years a new form has emerged: cyberbullying. This covers all forms of aggression through modern technological devices, such as mobile phones and laptops. Research about this phenomenon is still in a very early stage, as the phenomenon has only become significant in the last couple of years.

Because of the limited amount of research and the newness of this phenomenon, not everyone sees it as an equally important problem as the more traditional forms of bullying. Is cyberbullying really a problem?

A study by Ybarra and Mitchell (2004) showed that in a group of 1,500 pupils, aged 10 to 17 in the United States, 12% said to have been aggressive online and 4% said to have been the victim of cyberbullying. In more recent studies we can find a great increase in these numbers. The research from Raskauskas and Stoltz in 2007, also conducted in the USA, showed that 49% of the pupils reported being an electronic victim (compared to 71% in traditional bullying) and 21% said to be a cyberbully (compared to 64%). When we look at numbers for Belgium we get similar results. A survey of Vandebosch and Van Cleempunt, conducted in 2005 amongst 10 – 18, found that 33.7% has been the victim and 23.7% the perpetrator in cyberbullying.

So although it is not as big of a problem as the traditional forms of bullying, we can fairly say that cyberbullying is definitely a problem that needs to be addressed.


Kowalski, R. M., & Limber, S. P. (2013). Psychological, physical, and academic correlates of cyberbullying and traditional bullying. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53(1), S13-S20.

Raskauskas, J., & Stoltz, A. D. (2007). Involvement in traditional and electronic bullying among adolescents. Developmental psychology, 43(3), 564.

Slonje, R. & Smith, P. K. (2008). Cyberbullying: Another main type of bullying? Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 49, 147–154.

Vandebosch, H., & Van Cleemput, K. (2009). Cyberbullying among youngsters: Profiles of bullies and victims. New media & society, 11(8), 1349-1371.

Ybarra, M. L., & Mitchell, K. J. (2004). Online aggressor/targets, aggressors, and targets: A comparison of associated youth characteristics. Journal of child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45(7), 1308-1316.


One response to “Cyberbullying in numbers

  1. Pingback: Cyberbullying: how to fight it | Organizational and Institutional Change·

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