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More adolescents suffer cyber bullying
London, Feb 23 (IANS):
Published on 24 Feb. 2010 1:08 AM IST
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Around 10 percent of all adolescents in grades 7-9 are victims of Internet bullying, says a new study. “Cyber bullying occurs when new technologies such as computers and mobile phones are used to harass or bully somebody. The perpetrators often use SMS, e-mail, chat rooms and Facebook to spread their message,” says study author Ann Frisen. “This type of bullying can be more serious than conventional bullying. At least with conventional bullying the victim is left alone on evenings and weekends,” adds Frisen, professor of psychology at the University of Gothenburg. “Victims of Internet bullying - or cyber bullying - have no refuge. Victims may be harassed continuously via SMS and websites, and the information spreads very quickly and may be difficult to remove. In addition, it is often difficult to identify the perpetrator.” One example of this is the Facebook group ‘Vi som hatar Stina Johansson’ (Those of us who hate Stina Johansson). “This Facebook group was very difficult to remove. It took Stina’s parents almost one whole month,” says Frisen. Her research concerns body image, identity development and different types of bullying among children and adolescents. She is also part of an EU network of researchers studying cyber bullying and is since Jan 1 the national coordinator of this type of research. Who are the victims? “Around 10 percent of all adolescents in grades 7-9 are victims of cyber bullying. There is a clear connection to school life - it usually calms downs in the summer.” The perpetrator is almost always from the same school as the victim. “It is a lot easier to be a perpetrator on the Internet since it enables you to act anonymously. This also makes it possible for a weaker person to bully someone stronger, which is uncommon in conventional bullying,” says Frisen. “In these contexts, people take liberties they normally wouldn’t. For example, nobody would ever think of starting a magazine called ‘Those of us who hate Stina Johansson’. So how can cyber bullying among children and adolescents be prevented? “Adults shouldn’t be so naive about what they put out about themselves on the Internet, for example pictures. Kids get inspired by what adults do. In addition, it’s good if parents show interest and ask their children to show them which sites they like to visit,” Frisen said, according to a Gothenburg university release.

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