Internet: Bullying

Education written question – answered on 28th February 2014.

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Photo of Steve McCabe Steve McCabe Shadow Minister (Education)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education what statistics his Department collects on instances of (a) cyber bullying and (b) children self-harming as a result of abuse or bullying.

Photo of Edward Timpson Edward Timpson The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The Department for Education does not collect statistics on instances of cyberbullying, or on children self-harming as a result of abuse or bullying.

A number of expert organisations—such as the Diana Award and NSPCC—have undertaken surveys to try to measure the extent of cyberbullying. These surveys reveal wide variation in reported incidence; which could be because personal interpretation of what constitutes cyberbullying varies.

Estimates from an evidence review carried out by the Childhood Wellbeing Centre (at the Institute of Education, University of Kent and Loughborough University) for the Department in 2011, found that between 8% and 34% of children and young people in the UK have been cyberbullied. Evidence from the 2010 Longitudinal Study of 15,000 14 to 16-year-old people in England (LSYPE) which is funded by the Department, found that cyberbullying was the most common form of abuse along with name-calling.

We are also funding a series of questions about bullying in the 2013/14 and 2014/15 Crime Survey for England and Wales. One of the questions asks 10 to 14-year-olds about whether or not they have experienced cyberbullying in the last 12 months. This will give us a baseline estimate of prevalence and will help us to track trends over time.

In terms of self-harm, we know from research studies such as the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) longitudinal study of a nationally representative sample of 1,116 twin pairs (2012), that bullying is associated with an increased risk of self-harm. However, there are no reliable statistics on the prevalence of self-harm due to abuse or bullying. The Department of Health funds the multicentre study of self-harm in England, which collects data in three cities about young people and adolescents attending emergency departments in six hospitals with self-harm. This study does not look at bullying or abuse in particular, but shows that relationship difficulties, including problems with friends, are a common reason for self-harm in girls. This study is however, based on admissions data which constitutes a small proportion of self-harm episodes.

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