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Cyberbullying Statistics UK


Cyberbullying Statistics UK

Whilst the issue of bullying has always been a challenge for UK schools, the digital age has added an additional layer of complexity to the problem. With the lines between the online and offline world being blurred through social media, hyperconnectivity and an increasing generational technology gap, tackling the insidious impact of cyberbullying has proven challenging. Those who engage in bullying or abusive behaviour now have additional means of reaching their intended targets via online spaces and shared social media platforms. Whilst It can be argued that the digital age hasn’t necessarily made the issue of bullying worse, it has made it easier to do.

Recent statistics show that whilst bullying rates have remained constant over time, the nature of bullying is adapting to an increasingly digitised world.

Stats on Cyberbullying

According to an ONS report, 1 in 5 children between the ages of 10 and 15 had experienced some form of cyberbullying within the last year. Interestingly among school children, only 70% of responding students reported that the bullying came from someone who went to their school. 5% of students reported that they had abusive messaging or offensive posts made about them personally by people whom they didn’t know online. This indicates the fluidity that bullying behaviours have taken on in their modern cyber form.

Here are some key figures found on the prevalence of bullying in the online space.

AI-powered voice chat moderation and other similar software are being adopted by some platforms as a means of combating cyberbullying.
  • Only 58% of students were satisfied with how their school dealt with incidents of online bullying
  • 57% of young people have experienced bullying when playing an online video game
  • In England and whales, insults and name-calling were the most common forms of cyberbullying
  • Bullying among male students is more likely to be outwardly aggressive and explicit in nature
  • Bullying among female students was found to be more indirect and involved behaviours such as ostracising and gossip
  • Female bullying was found to be more likely to involve sexual shaming and rumour spreading than male bullying

The most common technology for abusive behaviour toward other students was via text or messaging apps at 56%. Social media was second at 43% and online games made up 30%. Two-thirds of parents also expressed concerns that their child was experiencing some form of bullying at school either online or in person.

Whilst bullying in the traditional sense was done face to face and usually in a school setting, cyberbullying has proven difficult to tackle for teachers and parents due to its lack of constraint. Whilst traditional bullying in a face-to-face setting was open and usually obvious to others around, cyberbullying has proven more insidious and difficult to stop. The ability to abuse others at any time, anywhere, along with the degree of anonymity possible in an online environment, has proven a tempting tool to those who would be inclined or prone to bullying behaviour.

The different types of cyberbullying

Cyberbullying BehaviourPercentage
Any online bullying behaviour18.7%
Name-calling, swearing and insults10.5%
Messages with nasty content10.1%
Rumour spreading5.3%
Nasty messages passed around or posted publicly3.3%
Purposeful threats2.1%
Extortion of money or other things0.4%
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Cybercrew.uk cyberbullying statistics 2023

Gender did not prove statistically significant in the rate of cyberbullying with girls and boys roughly equal in their reports of cyberbullying incidents. Whilst the nature of bullying between the two genders generally did seem to differ with boys being more directly aggressive and girls being more subtle and indirect, race and sexual orientation appeared to be greater factors in determining who was likely to be the target of cyberbullying. Whilst white pupils were more likely to report being bullied online than other groups, it is also possible that pupils of ethnic minority backgrounds who experience online bullying are underreporting these events due to concerns over how it will be perceived. Sexism, racism and homophobic comments were reported as the top types of cyber aggression by those who were bullied online.

Cyber AggressionChange Compared to 2019
Sexist insultsIncreased from 12% to 16%
Homophobic insultsIncreased from 15% to 17%
Racist insultsIncreased from 13% to 14%
Insults about appearanceIncreased from 23% to 25%
Threats to harm the victim or their familyReduced from 13% to 12%
Insults about religionReduced from 5% to 3%
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As shown in the above table, the nature of cyberbullying has remained constant with insults about appearance being the primary choice for bullies. Whilst insults about race, gender, and religion are becoming increasingly taboo in UK society, and can now be met with very real penalties should the offender be caught, it is likely that bullies will change the nature of their bullying rather than stop.

What are the effects of cyberbullying?

Bullying in all its forms can have negative impacts on student self-esteem, mental health and also lead to self harm and even suicide in some more extreme cases. Whilst some students may be more resilient in the face of cyberbullying, others may struggle with the longer-term effects.

Some of the typical effects of cyberbullying include the following

  • Poorer academic performance
  • Esteem issues
  • Eating disorders
  • Stress
  • Isolation
  • Depression

Depending on the student’s background, other feelings such as shame, resentment and anger can also be a side effect of having experienced cyberbullying from peers or others online. Cyberbullying is not limited to students and young people however, it is estimated that £2 billion are lost per year to litigation costs, investigations and remedies as a result of cyberbullying in the UK workplace.

How to deal with Cyberbullying

Over recent years, awareness of cyberbullying has increased, particularly with the digital natives of Gen Z. In 2019 alone Facebook removed over 11 million accounts for bullying and harassment-related content. Whilst cyberbullying is unfortunately here to stay, it is important to educate students on how to process harmful online interactions and prevent further harm to themselves. One of the positives of bullying taking place in a cyber environment is it’s easier to record evidence of harassment. This could include screenshots of text messages or social media posts, or printouts of emails. If you need to report an incident to the school or have suffered racism, homophobia or other discrimination, this evidence can be important for resolving the issue.

Governments around the world including the UK have noticed the increasing trends of cyberbullying along with the difficulties of enforcing effective measures to tackle it. The anonymous nature of the internet gives bullies a sense of security when targeting people they do not personally do. It can also serve as an additional tool to bully those they do know. As a result, there is legislation in place that can encompass the challenges posed by cyberbullying within the UK.

  • The Protection from Harassment Act
  • The Malicious Communications Act 1988
  • The Communications Act 2003
  • Obscene Publications Act 1959
  • Computer Misuse Act 1990
  • Cyberbullying in the Workplace.
  • Health and Safety and Duty of Care laws

National Policing Lead for ACPO Communication Advisory Group Chief Constable Andy Trotter has said the following in regard to cyberbullying:

People may think they can remain anonymous when they are online, that they can hide, say and do things they wouldn’t dream of doing in real life without consequences or being found out; this is not the case.”

Whilst calling the police should not be taken lightly, if you believe you are aware of a case which constitutes serious harassment or abuse such as:

  • Sexual harassment
  • Incitement to violence
  • Hate speech
  • Verbal harassment or abuse intended to cause harm or distress
  • Racism
  • Discrimination
  • Other forms of malicious or anti-social behaviour

Call your local police force on 101 to report the incident and receive advice on what to do next.

If you or someone you know is experiencing or dealing with the effects of cyberbullying, you can contact the national bullying helpline on 0300 323 0169 between 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. They can offer professional advice on how to deal with the issue and it’s free and confidential.


This article is intended as generic information only and is not intended to apply to anybody’s specific circumstances, demands or needs. The views expressed are not intended to provide any financial service or to give any specific recommendation or advice. Products and services are only mentioned for illustrative rather than promotional purposes. If you or someone you know is experiencing bullying in any form you can consult a professional body for advice and assistance.





Cyberbullying Statistics for the UK

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