Lynley Bilby is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Cyberbullying: Teen girls at highest risk of online bullying

Latest research shows a quarter of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 have suffered online abuse. Photo / iStock
Latest research shows a quarter of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 have suffered online abuse. Photo / iStock

Teenage girls are more likely to be the victim of cyberbullying than any other group in New Zealand.

Latest research shows a quarter of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 have suffered online abuse. The majority of victims were female.

Victoria University psychology doctoral student Anna Kurek, who is analysing the extent of bullying, cyberbullying and cyber victimisation across New Zealand schools, said not only were girls more likely to be victims of cyberbullying but the rise of "sexting" had increased the risk of harm.

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"It is twice as likely for a young girl to post or share a more provocative photo of herself than a boy, which increases the likelihood for her to fall prey to cyberbullying," she said.

"If you incorporate boys into the equation - with girls trying to impress boys, or girls daring other girls to take or send photos to boys, not to mention the rise of 'sexting' and photo exchange via texting - we begin to see a much larger problem arise."

She said it also had a lot to do with covert bullying, such as exclusion and backstabbing, which was common among girls. The internet was a goldmine for this type of aggression, with the bully removed from any face-to-face meanness.

Sticks 'n Stones spokeswoman Karla Sanders said results from its 2015 Bullying and Life Online report yielded a similar result.

She said a lot of this could be attributed to "slut-shaming".

"It's this idea that a lot of our young men and women feel justified in calling out the behaviour if they feel that it was not appropriate and there's a lot of talk around somebody deserving to be criticised, attacked and harassed online based on the actions that they've taken."

Ms Kurek said the research showed both on and offline forms of bullying remained quite prevalent throughout New Zealand high schools.

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Where to get help:

• In an emergency: call 111
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633, or text 234 (available 24/7) or talk@youthline.co.nz or live chat (between 7pm and 11pm) http://livechat.youthline.co.nz/mibew/chat?locale=en&style=youthline
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155 (weekdays 11am to 5pm)
• NetSafe: 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723), www.theorb.org.nz

- NZ Herald

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