Over 70% of Youth Who Witness Cyberbullying Intervene

New research conducted by TELUS WISE has found that youth believe cyberbullying is wrong and are motivated to intervene when they witness it.

The research sought to better understand the factors that influence whether or not youth speak up when they witness cyberbullying and their perspectives on how to intervene.

The findings provide cause for optimism and highlight the need for adults to support young people’s desire to responsibly intervene when they observe cyberbullying.

“Understanding the role that witnesses or bystanders play when cyberbullying occurs is important, and while our findings indicate that youth are willing to speak up when they see it, they also feel that adults could be doing more to help them,” said Dr. Debra Pepler, scientific co-director at PREVNet and professor of psychology at York University.

RELATED: One in Three Canadian Kids Have Been a Victim of Cyberbullying

“These research insights make us hopeful that Canadian youth will take a bigger stand against cyberbullying with the proper support from people they trust.”

The national study surveyed 800 youth between the ages of 12 and 18 this past summer. Key insights include:

Cyberbullying is more prevalent than you think

  • In the four weeks prior to taking the survey, 42 percent of youth said they were cyberbullied, and 60 per cent said they had witnessed others being cyberbullied.

Youth are doing a good job of confronting it

  • 71 per cent of youth who saw cyberbullying said they did something to intervene at least once.

Youth are most likely to stand up to defend their family members

  • Youths’ willingness to intervene in cyberbullying depends on their relationship with the target; 90 per cent of youth said they would intervene if their family member was the target and 89 per cent would intervene if a close friend was the target.
  • In comparison, only 37 per cent said they would intervene if it was someone they did not know personally.

Youth look to adults for guidance when it comes to cyberbullying intervention

  • When asked to rate strategies for intervening in cyberbullying, telling a trusted adult and talking about how to handle the situation with parents and/or friends were their top-rated intervention strategies.

Youth would intervene more if adults did a better job of supporting them

  • Most youth believe something can be done in response to cyberbullying, but they’re not convinced that their concerns will be taken seriously or that adults will be helpful.
  • When youth were asked why they don’t intervene when witnessing cyberbullying 33 per cent said they do not believe adults give advice that helps, and 43 per cent said they do not believe that talking to parents and teachers will change anything.

Read the full report here.