England and Wales: online bullying experienced by one in five children... and rising

11 January 2021

Before Covid-19 struck, around one in five children aged 10 to 15 years old (19%) experienced at least one type of online bullying behaviour (in the year ending March 2020). That’s equivalent to 764,000 children.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) was able to provide these estimates for the first time by using data from the 10- to 15-year-olds’ Crime Survey for England and Wales.

Being called names, sworn at or insulted, receiving nasty messages, and being excluded from a group or activity on purpose were the three most common online bullying behaviour types, revealed the ONS report.

Nearly three out of four children who bullied online experienced at least some of it at school or during school time.

More than half of the children who experienced online bullying said they wouldn’t describe it as bullying, and one in four didn’t tell anyone about it.

‘Greater use of smartphones and social media means online bullying can follow a child anywhere they go’

‘Greater use of smartphones, social media and networking applications means online bullying can follow a child anywhere they go,’ said Sophie Sanders from the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice.

The data also revealed that two in five children had experienced bullying in person, but it’s likely that the pandemic would have impacted on where and how bullying takes place.

Sophie explained that, since the data was collected, ‘children’s isolation at home and increased time spent on the internet is likely to have had a substantial impact on the split between real world and cyber bullying’.

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