15 Aug 2013
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Cyberbullying more common with girls

By Rebecca Wood

More than half the respondents in a recent study into bullying in New Zealand schools believe that cyberbullying is mainly conducted by girls.

In addition, 46% of respondents believe cyberbullying is mainly carried out by young people between 11 and 14 years of age; and 94% of school staff surveyed had seen bullying in their school.

In the first New Zealand study of its kind, Dr Vanessa Green, head of Victoria’s School of Educational Psychology and Pedagogy, along with a team of postgraduate students, surveyed 860 teachers and senior staff from primary, intermediate and secondary schools around New Zealand about their experiences with, perceptions of, and attitudes towards bullying.

Green says the study shows that bullying is a national problem that must be addressed.

“The internet has made bullying a more complex issue than it was 20 years ago and, as a result, it requires a more sophisticated response. The old methods may not be as effective as they were. We need to be thinking in a more creative way about how to address bullying.”

Respondents were asked who they believed should be involved in anti-bullying strategies, with most agreeing that the entire school and community—school staff, parents and whānau—should be included. More than 60% of respondents agree that teachers should help students deal with cyberbullying outside of the school

“There is tension around who is responsible for managing and preventing bullying, especially cyberbullying, because a lot of it occurs outside of the home.”

A good place for schools to start is to put a greater emphasis on professional development in the area of bullying prevention, she says.

Although programmes to deal with bullying are widely available, they are being used by less than a third of the schools represented in the survey.

“Just under half of all respondents had received training on how to deal with bullying, and most of that training was quite a few years ago. So it’s not surprising that many teachers, principals and schools don’t know what to do about the issue.”

How does your school deal with cyberbullying? Tell us below.

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