Cyberbullying Statistics Everyone Should Know

From threats to rumors, cyberbullies use a variety of tactics

Cyberbullying comes in many forms.

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Cyberbullying is most commonly defined as aggressive behavior that occurs through a digital medium. Calling someone names repeatedly over text messages, making threats against someone on social media, or making fun of someone while playing an online video game are just a few of the ways someone might be cyberbullied.

Most people think of cyberbullying as something that happens to young people—they think that it’s trouble with a middle school bully that extends beyond the classroom.

However, cyberbullying isn’t restricted to tweens and teens. It’s also occurring in colleges, in the workplace, and in adult communities.

Electronic Aggression

The CDC created a report regarding “electronic aggression,” which includes a broad array of behaviors. Electronic aggression includes harassment or bullying (teasing, telling someone lies, making fun of someone, making rude or mean comments, spreading rumors, or making threatening or aggressive comments) that occur through email, chat rooms, instant messaging, text messaging, or blogs.

Here are the statistics on what they found:

  • Between 9 and 35 percent of young people say they have been a victim of some type of electronic aggression.
  • 64 percent of victims who receive an aggressive instant message say they know the perpetrator from in-person situations.
  • 32 percent of victims say someone made rude or nasty comments about them.
  • 13 percent say someone spread online rumors about them.
  • 14 percent said they had been threatened or someone had made aggressive comments.

Middle and High School Students

There are many ways in which children may be cyberbullied. A peer may send threatening text messages or spread unkind rumors on social media. Or, a bully may pretend to befriend a victim in an attempt to get personal information or pictures that can be later used to embarrass the individual.

According to BullyingStatistics.org, here are the facts on cyberbullying in middle and high school students:

  • Fewer than one in five incidents of cyberbullying are reported to law enforcement.
  • One in 10 adolescents reports they have embarrassing or damaging pictures taken of themselves without their permission.
  • Approximately one in five teens have posted or sent sexually suggestive or nude pictures of themselves to others.
  • Only one in 10 teens tells a parent if they’ve been a victim of cyberbullying.
  • Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online.
  • More than one in three young people have been threatened online.
  • Over 25 percent of young people have been bullied repeatedly through their smartphones.

College Students

Cyberbullying doesn’t end with high school. It often continues into college.

A 2010 study published in the journal Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences surveyed 439 college students about cyberbullying. Here’s what else they found:

  • 22 percent of students report being cyberbullied in college.
  • 38 percent of college students knew someone who had been cyberbullied.
  • 9 percent of college students admitted to cyberbullying someone else.

They found no significant gender or ethnic group differences in any of the cyberbullying behaviors.

Suicide Stats

Cyberbullying has been linked to a variety of negative effects. A 2014 study linked it to anxiety, depression, substance abuse, sleeping problems, and physical symptoms.

There are many popular media stories that highlight an individual who completed suicide after being cyberbullied. However, until recently, there was very little research on whether cyberbullying actually increases the likelihood that someone might kill themselves.

A 2017 study published in the Journal of Health Economics studied the link between cyberbullying and suicide. Here’s what the researchers discovered:

  • Cyberbullying increases suicide attempts by 8.7 percentage points.
  • Cyberbullying increases suicidal thoughts by 15 percentage points.
  • A 1 percent drop in cyberbullying decreases fatal suicide rates by 11 per every 100,000 individuals.
  • Cyberbullying laws lead to a 7 percent decrease in cyberbullying victimization.

Overall, cyberbullying increased the likelihood that a victim may complete suicide, especially in men. In women, cyberbullying is especially likely to increase non-fatal suicide behaviors.

Workplace Cyberbullying

Now that more and more companies depend on electronic communications, many people are being bullied online in the workplace. Researchers have found that cyberbullying in the workplace differs from other forms of bullying in many ways.

Many people are cyberbullied by a colleague who stays anonymous. This makes it especially frustrating for the victim who isn’t sure who is targeting them.

Workplace cyberbullying may take place both in and out of the office. Victims may receive electronic communication outside of work hours, making it impossible for them to escape the torment.

Workplace cyberbullying takes many forms. It may involve a social media campaign or blog that disparages the victim. It may also involve threats of exposing private information to the public.

A 2017 study published in Computers in Human Behavior reports that workplace cyberbullying has been linked to increased stress, reduced mental and physical well-being, emotional problems, reduced job satisfaction, and decreased performance.

A 2016 study conducted by the University of Sheffield and Nottingham University found:

  • Eight out of 10 people have experienced cyberbullying in the workplace in the last six months.
  • Fourteen to 20 percent of people felt they had been a victim of cyberbullying in the past week.

A Word From Verywell

If you or your child is being cyberbullied, it’s important to take action. If you can, block the bully from contacting you. It’s also important to contact a teacher, administrator, or HR professional to report what is happening. A phone call to the police may also be warranted depending on the laws in your area. If the situation is taking a toll on your mental and physical health, talk to your doctor. A referral to a therapist may help you process your experience and assist you in taking steps to feel better.

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Article Sources
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  • Cyber Bullying Statistics. Bullying Statistics. http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/cyber-bullying-statistics.html. Published July 7, 2015.

  • Macdonald CD, Roberts-Pittman B. Cyberbullying among college students: prevalence and demographic differences. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences. 2010;9:2003-2009. DOI:10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.12.436

  • Nikolaou D. Does cyberbullying impact youth suicidal behaviors? Journal of Health Economics. 2017;56:30-46. DOI:10.1016/j.jhealeco.2017.09.009

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