More than a quarter of public middle and high schools across the United States deal with cyberbullying incidents at least once a week, according to new data from the National Center for Education Statistics.
The occurrence of cyberbullying among students appears to be correlated with school enrollment numbers. During the 2015-16 academic year, 27 percent of public schools with over 1,000 students reported cyberbullying incidents at least once a week, compared to about 8 percent of schools with enrollments of less than 300 students.
About 13 percent of schools with enrollment between 500 and 1,000 students reported at least weekly cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying has become more common among all grade levels — elementary, middle and high schools — since the 2009-10 school year, when the U.S. Department of Education issued its last School Survey on Crime and Safety. During that year, about 18 percent of middle and high schools reported student cyberbullying at least once a week, and 19 percent of schools with enrollment exceeding 1,000 students dealt with cyberbullying incidents at a similar rate.
The increase in cyberbullying comes as more students are gaining access to smartphones, tablets and other devices at an earlier age — whether that be at home or through their education institutions.
In this questionnaire, cyberbullying was defined as something that “occurs when willful and repeated harm is inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, or other electronic devices.”
Urbanicity (whether a school is located in a city, suburb, town or rural area) did not have a significant effect on cyberbullying incidents. However, public schools with higher populations of white students tended to experience more cases of cyberbullying.