TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – A survey of nearly 10,000 students in 350 schools throughout New York State found that approximately 47.8 percent knew someone who had been cyberbullied. That same study also found that 19.4 percent of students felt they had been victims of cyberbullying themselves.
Have you or someone you know been cyberbullied?
I think this issue is blown out of proportion.25%
The study, conducted by the Independent Democratic Conference, was conducted over an eight month period and included anonymous responses from students in grades three through 12. Approximately 54.8 percent of survey responders were girls and 45.2 percent were boys. Students in public, private, charter and religious schools were included in the survey.
New York Sen. Jeffrey Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester) released the survey results Wednesday while pushing for a cyberbullying law introduced in the Senate that would make cyberbullying a second-degree aggravated harassment misdemeanor and a third-degree stalking misdemeanor. The bill would make cyberbullying an eligible offense under the New York State Hate Crimes Act.
Klein said in a statement his bill “would finally send a message to those students who do not fully realize the dangers of cyberbullying. That message is that if you relentlessly harass your peers and intend to cause them serious harm, you may face serious consequences.”
Another piece of legislation from Sen. Mike Razenhofer (R-Erie/Genesee) would criminalize cyberbullying as a misdemeanor punishable by a fine or prison time.
In addition to asking students whether they had seen cyberbullying, the survey also questioned them about whether they had bullied others. Approximately 12 percent said they had cyberbullied others, by themselves or for fun with their friends. Of students surveyed, 11.8 percent said they had said nasty things online but did not consider it bullying and 14.6 percent of students said they had sent a joke to someone who thought it was bullying.
The survey also found many students did not identify cyberbullying with mean text messages, pretending to be someone else online or using another student's cellphone to get them in trouble.
“These results show us that, while educators and analysts might have a full concept of what cyberbullying is, it is not translating to our students,” the study said. “Students are possibly engaging in behavior that they think is totally acceptable since they don’t identify it as cyberbullying. Therefore, educators and parents alike must identify and discuss with their children all of the ways students can cyberbully another, not only to prevent this type of harassment but to also ensure that our students don’t unwittingly engage in possibly criminal behavior with no forethought or knowledge.”