Why do kids under-report cyberbullying?

A recently released survey found that children are under-reporting cyberbullying to their parents.

Nearly 90 per cent of parents surveyed in the Protecting Canadian Families Online survey released last week thought their children would tell them if they were cyberbullied, yet the survey shows that only eight per cent of youth do.

Why?

“One of the reasons kids give is they are scared their parents will take the technology away,” said Jennifer Shapka, a UBC associate professor who’s been studying cyberbullying in B.C.

As reported in The Province newspaper, the survey also showed that parents may be waiting too long to discuss cyberbullying.

Shapka said prevention experts suggest talking to children “before they even interact with a screen.”

Professor Shapka's most recent research has shown that kids as young as 10 have been cyberbullied.

Her research also shows an increase in cyberbullying. A 2012 study of 17,000 Vancouver Grade 8 to 12 students showed 25 to 30 per cent of youth had taken part in cyberbullying, versus 12 per cent in traditional schoolyard bullying.

Dr. Wendy Craig from the Canadian bullying prevention organization PREVNet, said the best way for parents to keep kids safe is to closely monitor all their online activity and teach them good online habits. Back off on monitoring when children master safe interactions.

“Everything we do off-line to socialize kids and teach them to be respectful and treat others well, we should do online,” said Dr. Craig, a Queen’s University psychology professor.

PREVNet offers tips and advice to kids and parents on their website.

United Way invests in after-school programs and anti-bullying programs so that kids can grow strong and be all that they can be.