Belfast Telegraph

Girls more likely to experience cyber-bullying than boys in Northern Ireland, study suggests

A study carried out by the Blurred Lives project studied how young people between the ages of 14 and 16 experienced and responded to bullying online.
A study carried out by the Blurred Lives project studied how young people between the ages of 14 and 16 experienced and responded to bullying online.

Girls are more likely to experience cyber-bullying than boys in Northern Ireland, new research has revealed.

However, boys were three times more likely than girls not to tell anyone about their experiences of cyber-bullying.

A study by the Blurred Lives project looked at how young people between the ages of 14 and 16 experienced and responded to cyber-bullying.

The BBC reports more than one in five children (22%) in the study said they had recently experienced nasty or unpleasant experiences on the internet.

However, most children who took part said they had never experienced or witnessed cyber-bullying.

Over a quarter of girls (27%) who took part in the EU-funded study said they had experienced bullying online compared to 17% of boys.

Some 525 schoolchildren in Northern Ireland took part in the study.

Some of the children reported they had been told to kill themselves or harm themselves online.

Other were mocked about their appearance or sent nude pictures.

More than one in 10 (11%) said they had done something nasty or unpleasant to someone else online.

The most common type of bullying was "mean things" being said online. Others reported rumours being spread about them, being sent embarrassing text messages or pictures, or other people creating fake profiles of them on social media.

The majority of the children in the study said they wanted teachers, parents and their friends to offer support when they experienced bullying online.

Almost all the children who took part in the study owned a smartphone, while a majority said they also owned tablets and gaming consoles.

More than half of those who took part said they spent more than five hours a day on the internet, with Snapchat and Facebook being the most popular sites and apps used.

YouTube and Instagram were used by about half the children, while only one in 10 used Twitter.

Some 2% of those in the study admitted they used adult sites.

Meanwhile, the number of cyber sex-crimes against children in Northern Ireland soared by 268% in the last four years, with almost five incidents now being recorded each week here.

In 2018/19 a total of 243 recorded sexual offences against children were flagged by the PSNI as having an online element. In 2014/16 there were just 66 offences.

In total, 12% of all 2,036 recorded sexual offences against children last year were cyber-enabled, according to figures obtained by the NSPCC.

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