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Siena says 'not surprising' how pervasive teen cyberbullying is Upstate

Ellen Abbott

Siena Research Institute has released results of a survey that shows just how pervasive cyberbullying  is among teens across upstate New York.

The survey queried teens and their parents from Buffalo to Albany. First, the numbers from the teens who were polled:

  • 26 percent say they have been cyberbullied.
  • 56 percent say they have witnessed online bullying
  • 20 percent overall and 1/3 of girls say they have cried because of something posted online about them, or someone close to them.

Siena’s research director Don Levy says it’s not surprising, considering how online activities dominate the lives of teens.

"It’s sort of like, they are swimming in a sea of it, and I think it’s a bit of a wake up call,” said Levy.

Levy says that while there were some small regional variations in the responses across upstate New York, it was apparent that cyberbullying is happening everywhere.

“They were consistent whether the student was in an urban school, suburban or rural, you saw this same dynamic,” said Levy.

And while the targets of bullies haven’t changed that much over the years -- physical appearance and social awkwardness are the top reasons for online bullying -- Levy says online pictures and comments carry a much bigger punch.

"Now because of the manner in which we communicate, what seems to them like, everybody in the whole school is aware of it, that’s a lot of pressure on them,” said Levy.

The survey, sponsored by the Tyler Clementi Foundation, and AT&T, also showed that while most parents have rules regarding online use, students say they often aren’t enforced and many parents have no idea what their online life is like.  

Jane Clementi, whose son committed suicide after being bullied online, joined Levy to point to how these statistics speak to a staggering problem, that can perplex schools and  families.

"What do you say to parents? Keep your eye on the children. Keep talking. Don’t shut down communications. Just keep talking and opening up and your children will open up with you too."

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