Study: One in six students is a victim of cyberbullying

They are not even safe in their own children's room: those affected by cyberbullying can hardly escape the constant insults and abuse on the Internet.

Study: One in six students is a victim of cyberbullying

They are not even safe in their own children's room: those affected by cyberbullying can hardly escape the constant insults and abuse on the Internet.

"I actually have the bullying in my trouser pocket with me all the time," explains Hendrikje Schmidt from the crisis chat, a psychosocial counseling service for children and young people on Wednesday in Berlin, with regard to cell phones. As a result, many young people feel helpless and powerless. "There's no end to it, and I can't undo it or stop it."

According to a survey published on Wednesday by the Alliance Against Cyberbullying in cooperation with Techniker Krankenkasse (TK), one in six schoolchildren (16.7 percent) has already been affected by cyberbullying. That corresponds to more than 1.8 million students between the ages of 7 and 20. The proportion of those affected has fallen slightly by 0.6 percentage points since the last survey in 2020, but remains at a high level.

Digital bullying is different

Victims most frequently report abuse and insults (78 percent) and lies and rumors (59 percent). 40 percent of the students affected have already been blackmailed or threatened online.

Bullying has been around for a long time, said Jens Baas, CEO of TK. "But bullying used to be something that was then limited to certain situations." You got out of those situations. "That's much more difficult in the digital world today."

The ongoing bullying over the Internet puts a strain on the psyche of the students in particular. According to the survey, those affected feel hurt (58 percent), angry (40 percent) and scared (34 percent). About a quarter had already had suicidal thoughts. Schmidt also knows messages from the crisis chat in which children and young people report such thoughts. But every message is taken seriously.

The pandemic has intensified cyberbullying: The children have spent even more time on the internet due to online lessons and contact restrictions - and the bullying has migrated there even more, write the authors of the study. The majority of children and young people (65 percent) say that cyberbullying has increased since the corona pandemic.

Prevention is important

The survey does not only look at those affected, but also at the perpetrators. Six percent of the students surveyed stated that they themselves had bullied someone online. Striking: the roles of perpetrator and victim can merge into one another. Almost one in five perpetrators has suffered from cyberbullying themselves.

That is why prevention is one of the most important elements against cyberbullying, says Uwe Leest, Chairman of the Alliance Against Cyberbullying. "Because if we don't have any perpetrators, that is, if we don't let the perpetrators become perpetrators in the first place, then we don't have to talk about the subject of victims."

Those affected want more support - also from the state. 62 percent of children and young people were of the opinion that the state should do much more to combat cyberbullying. 65 percent of the teachers are of the same opinion.

After all, almost half of the children and young people said that pupils learned at school how to behave in the event of cyberbullying. Nevertheless, the prevention work should urgently be intensified, the authors write. "Schools that actively address this issue, cyberbullying, have significantly reduced, much smaller numbers of victims in the schools," explains Leest. "It can be seen very clearly: prevention works."

Alliance homepage with study

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