Cyberbullying as harmful as physical violence: study

Cyberbullying

Children who are bullied online or by mobile phone are just as likely to skip school or consider suicide as kids who are physically bullied, according to a new study.

The study led by a Michigan State University criminologist suggests that parents, school officials and policymakers should consider bullying experiences both on and offline when creating anti-bullying policies and procedures.

"We should not ignore one form of bullying for the sake of the other," said Thomas Holt, associate professor of criminal justice in the university.

"The results suggest we should find ways to develop school policies to combat bullying within the school environment and then figure out how to translate that to the home, because the risk goes beyond the schoolyard," Holt added.

Holt and colleagues, using survey data from more than 3,000 third- through 11th-grade students in Singapore, analysed the relationships between physical bullying,

cyberbullying and mobile phone bullying on skipping school and suicidal thoughts.

The study, one of the first to explore bullying in Southeast Asia, echoes research findings from the United States and Canada. According to the study, 22 per cent of students who were physically bullied skipped school or thought about skipping. By comparison, 27 per cent of students who were bullied online (which includes email, blogs and chat rooms) and 28 per cent who were sent bullying text messages on a mobile phone skipped school or thought about skipping.

Similarly, 22 per cent of students who were physically bullied reported suicidal thoughts, while 28 per cent of those who reported cyberbullying and 26 per cent who were bullied via cell phone said they considered suicide.

In addition, females and younger students were more likely to consider suicide, which reflects other research findings.

Holt said parents should pay attention to warning signs of bullying such as mood changes, sadness, school failures, social withdrawal and a lack of appetite.

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