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The Annual Bullying Survey 2017

Welcome to The Annual Bullying Survey 2017; our fifth and largest edition. With over 10,000 young people taking part this year, we have been able to shed light on some of the biggest bullying-related issues affecting young people in the United Kingdom.

1-in-2 have experienced bullying, with 1-in-10 having been bullied within the past week. The impacts on health, self-esteem and performance are significant. 36% of those who have been bullied said it made them feel depressed and 1-in-4 turned to self-harm as a coping mechanism.

Young people who have a learning or physical disability or who identify as LGBT+ are some of the most likely to be bullied. Race and religion were also linked to rates of bullying, with students identifying as ‘White other/ European’ being some of the most likely to experience bullying. It is clear that the current political and media climate is having a truly detrimental impact across the entire of society, with schools included.

At Ditch the Label, we believe that it is important to not only provide reactive support to those who have been victimised to bullying, but also to proactively help those who perpetrate bullying behaviours. In our previous edition, we found that young people going through stressful and traumatic situations were the most likely to bully others. This year we find that males are twice as likely to bully than females. Our work with the male grooming brand, Lynx, is especially important as we continue to campaign against toxic masculinity - encouraging emotional openness and discouraging violence in young men.

Our theme this year was to explore the impact of technology and digital abuse upon the lives of young people. Technology is having a profound impact upon all of our lives. It is redefining how we communicate, build and maintain relationships and it underpins our entire democracy. We are at a unique moment in time because there is no real precedent or ‘rule book’ on how to live as a responsible ‘digital global citizen’.

The concept of right and wrong online seems to differ to the ethical standards upheld in our offline communities. In fact, young people have a huge
disconnect between the things that happen online and reality, with 44% of respondents believing that only things happening offline could be considered as “real life”.

Young people are being given unprecedented access to a world of information from an incredibly early age, and often, without being taught the appropriate social or media information literacy skills required to critically and responsibly navigate around and engage through the internet.

Cyberbullying continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing young people online. This research uncovers the true extent and impact of online abuse, finding that the majority of young people have at some point done something that could be considered as abusive online behaviour.

Not only is the internet redefining the climate of bullying, but it is having clear impacts upon the identity, behaviours and personality of its young users. The data shows that young people feel more able to be themselves online, than they do offline. Perhaps we should be challenging the forces that hold young people back in their offline environments and praising the internet for its ability to allow young people to be closer to their true selves.

Social media addiction is highlighted as a key trend, with the majority of respondents unable to switch off for a sustained period of time. Young people feel that social networks are not currently doing enough about online bullying, with many feeling unsafe online.

Whilst the internet does pose a new set of challenges in the area of bullying, it does also come with a whole host of benefits. Each week, we help thousands of young people to overcome bullying through our pioneering digital support programs which we run through our website and partnerships with social networks and online games. Young people are increasingly turning to the internet for advice and support when navigating through difficult situations both online and offline. The internet enables likeminded and similar people to come together, united by their experiences and gives digital citizens access to powerful communities that were once unimaginable.