Editor's Note*: An earlier version of this article attributed the study to "Dr. Sarah Pedersen of Aberdeen University." The correct affiliation is "Aberdeen Business School at Robert Gordon University." We apologize for the mistake.
The issue of schoolyard bullies is not a new concept—but cyberbullies are, now that they can transcend distance and time to attack their victims online.
Cyberbullying is a problem that affects almost half of all American teens, according to the National Crime Prevention Council, and it has grown as more teens use social media, like Facebook.
The council, which has been tracking the rising issue of cyberbullying this year, reports that cyberbullying occurs when bullies pretend to be a victim online and create false social media accounts; spread nasty rumors about the victim online; send mean messages to the victim online or via text messaging; or post photos of the victim without his or her consent.
When the council asked teens in a survey why they think other teens cyberbully, 81 percent said that cyberbullies think to online bully is funny.
A study released last month conducted by Dr. Sarah Pedersen of Aberdeen Business School at Robert Gordon University* in the United Kingdom found that more boys (68 percent) reported having been cyberbullied or cyberbullies themselves than girls (49 percent.) Teens were surveyed online through MTV.
"Despite previous researchers finding that girls were more likely to suffer cyberbullying and to be cyberbullies themselves, our research found that more male respondents reported both being bullied and bullying behavior online," Pedersen said in the report. "This result may be related to social norms about male adolescence. However, it may also be as a result of online safety campaigns that have been more targeted at girls, and have therefore neglected to instill the same awareness among adolescent males."
To address the issue of bullying in the local community, the Hermosa Beach City School District in May for parents to talk about bullying's presence in Hermosa View and Valley schools.
"What’s concerning me is all the technology that surrounds my children," said Isabe Gombas, whose children are in first and second grade, at the forum. "It’s very scary, because you can protect what they see to an extent, but it’s so expansive."
A conducted last year found bullying to be a mild to moderate problem within the local school district.
"I deal with bullying on a daily basis in my office," Hermosa Valley School Interim Principal Rita Flynn told parents at the public forum in May. "It’s prevalent in many forms"—and one of those forms is via the Internet.
Hermosa Valley School's Teri Tsosie incorporates the issue of cyberbullying into her computer technology class curriculum by assigning students to take an "Are you a Cyberbully?" quiz as they study Internet use and safety.
Tisha Marina, a Safe Schools Ambassador Program trainer with the nonprofit Community Matters, told parents at the public forum in May to get more involved in preventing bullying by becoming familiar with the technology children are using, like Facebook and text messaging.