Students perceive traditional bullying as more cruel and harsh than cyber attacks, Australian researchers have found.
Researchers at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) studied 156 students who described their perceptions of being bullied.
The research, led and supervised by Professor Marilyn Campbell from QUT’s Faculty of Education, investigated the students’ responses to both cyber and face-to-face bullying and asked which was more hurtful.
Campbell said the findings indicated significantly more victims perceived traditional bullying to be more harsh and cruel than cyberbullying.
“It clearly indicates the feelings of the children and the very real threat they have of being physically harmed by another child,” she said.
Campbell said the study showed 59 per cent of the children participants felt face-to-face bullying was worse for them than being cyberbullied.
Twenty-six per cent reported that both forms of bullying were equally hurtful and the remaining 15 per cent perceived cyberbullying to be worse.
“Children reported being scared and very worried by the attacks but it was interesting to find a majority of them were embarrassed that others were witnessing their victimisation as it occurred,” Campbell said.
She said recent Australian studies have reported traditional victimisation prevalence rates of between 16 and 40 per cent among students.
She also said a 2008 survey of about 40 countries found Australian primary schools had the highest reported incidence of bullying in the world.
She added that a review of Australian studies found a conservative prevalence estimate for being cyberbullied in a 12-month period was approximately 20 per cent of children aged between eight to 17.
“Few studies have directly examined the perceptions of students who have experienced both forms of bullying and explored which form was worse for them,” Campbell said.
She said many students noted that it was their ability or inability to take some form of action in response to their victimisation that was a defining reason as to why they perceived their experiences as they did.
Campbell found that when students felt significantly helpless to act in response to their victimisation, it affected their interpretation of which form of bullying was worse.
The study was published in the Journal of School Violence.