Most parents agree that cyberbullying is a problem, but opinions on which actions should be considered cyberbullying or the best way to respond vary, according to a University of Michigan survey.
The survey found that parents rank bullying as the second most important children’s health concern, with childhood obesity ranking first. Other high-ranking concerns included drug abuse, Internet safety, child abuse, sexting, smoking, school violence, teen pregnancy, and stress.
What Constitutes Cyberbullying?
Researchers from the University of Michigan polled a nationally representative sample of parents whose teens ranged in age from 13 to 17. The poll was part of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.
A majority (63%) of parents agreed that social media campaigns to elect someone to homecoming court as a joke should be considered cyberbullying, but parents were divided on other issues. According to the poll, 45% of parents believe that altering a photo to make a student look larger is also cyberbullying, and 43% agree that posting rumors about a student caught cheating is a form of bullying. Sixty-five percent of parents say that posting online rumors about a student having sex at school counts as cyberbullying.
Parents also expressed an array of opinions about how parents and other authority figures should handle cyberbullying. Parents thought that sexual rumors were the most severe form of cyberbullying, and 21% agreed that calling law enforcement is appropriate when sexual rumors surface. Other findings:
- Eight percent of parents would call law enforcement on a child who doctored another student’s photo to make that student appear heavier; 27% say suspension is appropriate, and 35% recommend detention.
- Thirty-nine percent of parents believe that sexual rumors warrant a suspension, and 27% recommend detention.
- Students who try to get other children elected to homecoming court as a joke should, according to 37% of parents, be suspended. Thirty-eight percent think a detention is warranted, and 8% of parents recommend law enforcement action.
- Posting rumors online that a student was caught cheating warrant a referral to law enforcement, according to 5% of parents. Twenty-six percent think a suspension is appropriate, and 46% advocate detention.
- Is it cyberbullying? Parents’ views differ on how schools should respond. (2015, September 23). Retrieved from http://www.uofmhealth.org/news/archive/201509/cyberbullying-NPCH
- Parents conflicted about how to label, punish cyberbullying. (2015, September 21). Retrieved from http://mottnpch.org/reports-surveys/parents-conflicted-about-how-label-punish-cyberbullying
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