Schoolyard bullies expand into internet

Sri Dharanee Performance Arts Theatre

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec 2, 2007 (AFP) – US researchers warn that bullies are taking their hurtful ways from real-world schoolyards to the “cyber” world by targeting teens with nasty e-mail, text messaging, and online chat.

The number of children ages 10 to 17 that say they were abused by “cyber bullies” climbed 50 percent, from six percent in 2000 to nine percent in 2005, according to a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“One thing that stands out is that aggression perpetuated with technology goes far beyond cyber bullying,” said Corrine Ferdon, one of the authors of the CDC report on “electronic aggression and youth violence.”

“Technology is constantly evolving and if we focus on the Internet we will miss the show.”

Instant messaging, including text messages sent to mobile telephones, is the most common way to send taunts, teases, threats, insults or other bullying messages, according to report co-author Marci Hertz.

Unlike in schoolyards where bullies have to face victims, the Internet lets abusers remain anonymous, Hertz said.

The majority of the self-described victims in the study said they didn’t know who the “cyber bullies” were, Hertz told AFP.

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