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The study of 15,000 children by the National Centre for Social Research says many teenagers try to stop parents getting involved or informing the school. But, when the parents do intervene, the child is much less likely to suffer from continued bullying. Cyberbullying – by mobile phone, email and on websites – is now as common as name-calling among teenagers.
Children have reported threats of violence, actual violence and being "frozen out" by their friendship groups. Some even had been forced to hand over money or possessions to bullies. The study coincided also with the release in the UK by hip hop artists N-Dubz of an anthem for the charity Beatbullying, an organization which campaigns against bullying. The song, R U Cyber Safe, is the theme for Anti-Bullying Week. 47% of 14-year-olds , 41% of 15-year-olds and 29% of 16-year-olds have reported being bullied.
The children most likely to be bullied were the most vulnerable in the class. Those with special educational needs, who were disabled or were in the care of the local authority. Unfortunately, the weak seem to be the targets. On average, children who were bullied went on to get worse marks at school, and were likely to leave school at 16.
Girls were more likely to be victims. They reported cyber-bullying, name-calling and excluding victims from friendship groups as the most common forms of bullying. Boys said they were more likely to be threatened with violence or have possessions or money taken. The UK government is encouraging parents to feel confident to come forward and report bullying incidents to schools.
YouTube deals with dozens of complaints of online harassment each week. It has a team of moderators who remove any footage involving violence, or where people claim their privacy has been invaded. It is launching a programme with Beatbullying to train 60 "cyber-mentors" – young people who can give advice on how to tackle online bullying. In the UK 90 children were expelled from school for bullying in the last year, and 5,750 children were suspended.