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Cyberbullying Common Among High School Students, or Is It?

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About one in six high school students report having been bullied online in a given year, a new analysis of federal data shows.

Analyzing survey responses from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Andrew Adesman of Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York found that about 16 percent of high school students reported being electronically bullied within 12 months of the survey. And girls were more than twice as likely to report being a cyberbullying victim.

As part of its Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, which surveys high school students every other year, the CDC for the first time asked students whether they had been a victim of electronic bullying in the past 12 months, including through email, chat rooms, instant messaging, websites, and texting. And the survey asked how many hours they play video or computer games or use a computer for something not related to school. The survey asked questions of 15,425 public and private high school students in 2011.

At the annual Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in Washington this week, Adesman presented some of the results, which also showed that white students reported being the victim of cyberbullying more than twice as frequently as blacks.

And 31 percent of high school students reported spending three or more hours a day playing video games or using a computer for something unrelated to schoolwork. About 35 percent of boys, compared with 27 percent of girls, reported playing for more than three hours a day.

"Electronic bullying is a very real yet silent danger that may be traumatizing children and teens without parental knowledge and has the potential to lead to devastating consequences," said principal investigator Karen Ginsburg, also at Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York, in a press release.

Consider though, that I wrote about almost the opposite finding less than a year ago.

The study, by longtime bullying researcher Dan Olweus of the University of Bergen, Norway, found that while, on average, 18 percent of American students said they had been verbally bullied; those who said they had been cyberbullied was about 4.5 percent. About 11 percent of Norwegian students said they had been verbally bullied, compared to 3.4 percent who said they had been bullied in some electronic format. The study was published online in May (2012) in the European Journal of Developmental Psychology.

The Olweus research involved 450,490 students in 1,349 American schools surveyed between 2007 and 2010 and another 9,000 Norwegian students at 41 schools.

So what should we believe? Tell me in the comments or drop me a line, nshah@epe.org.

Follow Rules for Engagement on Twitter @Rulz4Engagement and Education Week Staff Writer Nirvi Shah on Twitter @NirviShah.

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