National Study Shows that 71 Per Cent of Youth Who Witnessed Cyberbullying Intervened

Increased parental support and guidance required, youth say

Ottawa, Ontario - New research conducted by TELUS WISE in partnership with MediaSmarts and PREVNet has found that youth believe cyberbullying is wrong and are motivated to intervene when they witness it, but would be more likely to do so if adults provided better guidance on managing interventions and were more responsive when incidents were brought to their attention. The research sought to better understand the factors that influence whether or not youth speak up when they witness cyberbullying and their perspectives on how to intervene. The findings provide cause for optimism and highlight the need for adults to support young people’s desire to responsibly intervene when they observe cyberbullying.

“Understanding the role that witnesses or bystanders play when cyberbullying occurs is important, and while our findings indicate that youth are willing to speak up when they see it, they also feel that adults could be doing more to help them,” said Dr. Debra Pepler, scientific co-director at PREVNet and professor of psychology at York University. “These research insights make us hopeful that Canadian youth will take a bigger stand against cyberbullying with the proper support from people they trust.”

The national study surveyed 800 youth between the ages of 12 and 18 this past summer. Key insights include:

Cyberbullying is more prevalent than you think

  • In the four weeks prior to taking the survey, 42 percent of youth said they were cyberbullied, and 60 per cent said they had witnessed others being cyberbullied.

Youth are doing a good job of confronting it

  • 71 per cent of youth who saw cyberbullying said they did something to intervene at least once.

Youth are most likely to stand up to defend their family members

  • Youths’ willingness to intervene in cyberbullying depends on their relationship with the target; 90 per cent of youth said they would intervene if their family member was the target and 89 per cent would intervene if a close friend was the target.
  • In comparison, only 37 per cent said they would intervene if it was someone they did not know personally.

Youth look to adults for guidance when it comes to cyberbullying intervention

  • When asked to rate strategies for intervening in cyberbullying, telling a trusted adult and talking about how to handle the situation with parents and/or friends were their top-rated intervention strategies.

Youth would intervene more if adults did a better job of supporting them

  • Most youth believe something can be done in response to cyberbullying, but they’re not convinced that their concerns will be taken seriously or that adults will be helpful.
  • When youth were asked why they don’t intervene when witnessing cyberbullying 33 per cent said they do not believe adults give advice that helps, and 43 per cent said they do not believe that talking to parents and teachers will change anything.

From the research, it’s clear that part of the solution must focus on educating adults about the impact of cyberbullying and to provide them with better strategies to support youth on how to safely intervene and to make their responses more effective when cyberbullying is brought to their attention. TELUS WISE and its partners will use the research results to create new resources for Canadian families and youth on how to safely stand up to cyberbullying including strategies on how to ensure action will be taken when youth bring a cyberbullying problem forward. These tools will be available in 2016.

“As parents, we all want to do right by our children, and this research serves as a wake-up call. We need to do a better job of providing our children with effective strategies on how to safely intervene when they witness cyberbullying,” said Andrea Goertz, senior vice president, strategic initiatives and chief communications and sustainability officer at TELUS. “Education is critical, and this research demonstrates that youth need more guidance from trusted adults. Through our TELUS WISE program we will continue to helping to educate parents and teens, and provide all Canadian families with the resources they need to address cyberbullying head on.”

“Young people are ready and willing to take a stand, but they want to know that their actions will make a difference, and that they will not suffer socially,” said Jane Tallim, Co-Executive Director at MediaSmarts. “Youth should be encouraged to think ethically about their responsibilities as witnesses. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, it’s crucial to empower youth with tools that help them consider the consequences of their reactions and the various options at their disposal for each situation.”

Read the full report in English and French and learn more the survey’s key findings or about online and smartphone safety.

About TELUS

TELUS (TSX:T)(NYSE:TU) is Canada’s fastest-growing national telecommunications company, with $12.4 billion of annual revenue and 14.0 million customer connections, including 8.4 million wireless subscribers, 3.1 million wireline network access lines, 1.5 million high-speed Internet subscribers and 980,000 TELUS TV customers. TELUS provides a wide range of communications products and services, including wireless, data, Internet protocol (IP), voice, television, entertainment and video, and is Canada’s largest healthcare IT provider.

In support of our philosophy to give where we live, TELUS, our team members and retirees have contributed more than $396 million to charitable and not-for-profit organizations and volunteered and more than 6 million hours of service to local communities since 2000. Created in 2005 by President and CEO Darren Entwistle, TELUS’ 11 Canadian community boards and 4 International boards have led the Company’s support of grassroots charities and will have contributed more than $54 million in support of over 4,800 local charitable projects by the end of 2015, enriching the lives of more than 2.1 million children and youth. TELUS was honoured to be named the most outstanding philanthropic corporation globally for 2010 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, becoming the first Canadian company to receive this prestigious international recognition.

For more information about TELUS, please visit telus.com.

About MediaSmarts

MediaSmarts is a Canadian not-for-profit centre for digital and media literacy. Its vision is that young people have the critical thinking skills to engage with media as active and informed digital citizens. MediaSmarts offers hundreds of digital and media literacy resources for librarians, parents and educators on its website http://mediasmarts.ca. @mediasmarts

About PREVNet

PREVNet (Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network) is Canada’s authority on research and resources for bullying prevention. PREVNet is an umbrella network of 122 leading Canadian research scientists, more than 150 graduate students, and 62 youth-serving organizations. Launched in 2006 with the Networks of Centres of Excellence, PREVNet’s mission is to stop bullying in Canada and to promote safe and healthy relationships for all Canadian children and youth. Led by Scientific Co-Directors Dr. Debra Pepler of York University and Dr. Wendy Craig of Queen’s University, this national network is the first of its kind in Canada, providing an unprecedented national opportunity for social-cultural change. For more information, tips on bullying prevention and resources visit www.prevnet.ca. You can find PREVNet on Twitter: @prevnet and Facebook.

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