Cyberbullying can be defined as an “…an aggressive intentional act carried out by a group or individual, using electronic forms of contact, repeatedly and over time against a victim who can not easily defend him or herself.” (Smith et al. 2008: 376). Interestingly. perpetrators of cyberbullying may not necessarily be aware of taking part: “…what is perceived as a joke or idle remark by the perpetrator may be taken extremely seriously by the target” (Cross et al. 2009:17).

Empirical research lacks a comprehensive view of the prevalence of cyberbullying, but many research organisations have attempted to quantify the experiences of young people and bullying.

EU Kids Online (2010) examined A random stratified sample of 1032 9-16 year olds who use the internet, and one of their parents/carers, interviewed during May/June 2010.

  • The average time spent online by UK 9-16 year olds is just over an hour and a half per day (102 minutes), higher than the European average (88 minutes).

  • Around one third of 11-12 year olds cannot bookmark a site, and even more cannot block messages from people they don’t want to hear from.

  • In relation to online bullying, 21% of UK children (and 19% across Europe) say they have been bullied, but just 8% say this occurred on the internet. Still, this is more than for Europe overall (6%).

  • Most common is nasty or hurtful messages sent to the child (7%), followed by messages being posted or passed on (5%) and other nasty things online (4%). Only 2% have been threatened online.

The Diana Award (2011) carried out research by analysing a sample of 1,512 young people and found that 38% of young people were affected by cyberbullying either as victims or witnesses.

  • 'Abusive emails’ (26%) was the most prominent method of cyberbullying, followed closely by ‘abusive texts’ (24%) and ‘prank and silent calls’ (19%).


Cross EJ, Richardson B, Douglas T and Volkaenal-Flatt J., 2009. Virtual Violence: Protecting Children from Cyber-bullying. London: Beatbullying.

EU Kids Online (2010) Risks and Safety for Children on the Internet: The UK Report

Diana Award (2011) Young People’s Voices on Cyberbullying: What Can Age Comparisons Tell Us?