17 Troubling Cyberbullying Statistics
Updated · May 20, 2023
Over five billion people use the internet. Virtually 100% of adolescents in first-world countries are online for several hours a day. With such exposure, they’ll have both positive and negative interactions online.
Some of the latter can be quite uncanny, so we’ll take a closer look.
Join us for a journey through a range of spine-chilling cyberbullying statistics harvested from the darkest recesses of the internet.
Distressing Cyberbullying Facts (Editor’s Choice):
- 15.7% of high schoolers experience online bullying.
- Cyberbullying laws exist in 48 states.
- 27% of US adults have experienced severe cyber harassment.
- Differing political views drive 55% of online harassment in the US.
- Men are five percentage points more likely to experience online bullying than women.
- Japanese cyberbullies can spend up to one year in jail.
- Cyberbullying victims don’t know who their attackers are in 43% of cases.
History of Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is perhaps the most recent form of bullying, but that doesn’t necessarily make it any less severe than traditional types of harassment.
In fact, one could argue that it’s far more insidious, as victims are frequently exposed to it 24/7. Moreover, it’s often difficult for parents to recognize that something is going on due to its virtual nature—but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Let’s start off with some basic cyberbullying facts.
1. Bullying can be divided into four different categories.
The National Centre Against Bullying indicates there are four common types of harassment:
- Physical bullying includes both physical assault and property damage.
- Verbal bullying refers to a wide range of insults and denigrating remarks.
- Social bullying can be similar to its verbal counterpart but includes social exclusion and attempts to damage others’ social standing.
- Cyberbullying is basically verbal and social harassment done online.
2. Cyberbullying started in the 1990s.
While various types of bullying have existed throughout the ages, cyberbullying is undoubtedly the most recent.
It started in the 90s, when personal computers became accessible to more people. Then, in the mid-00s, the advent of smartphones and social media made electronic bullying easier than ever.
Unfortunately, lawmakers were rather slow in bringing existing legislation up to date to encompass online harassment, leading to multiple teen deaths.
3. The first case of cyberbullying suicide transpired in 2007.
Bullying causing tragedies isn’t what we’d call a new development. Depression, suicide, school shootings, violence—there have been too many casualties.
The first of these fatalities to be officially linked to cyberbullying was a suicide case. In 2007, a 13-year-old girl killed herself. The girl’s neighbors had created a fake MySpace account with the sole aim of harassing her. They were initially found guilty of conspiracy but later acquitted.
This and other similar cases spurred most states to pass anti-bullying laws that address cyberbullying.
4. Globally, 75% of internet users are aware of cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying rates vary across the world, and so does awareness of the topic. Globally, 75% of internet users have heard of the term, but not all nations are equally cognizant of the issue.
Most Western countries can claim that at least 70% of their population knows about online harassment, with Italy and Sweden being the most cyberbullying-conscious nations (91% each). Interestingly enough, France is the sole outlier, as just half of the population knows about it.
In the rest of the world, the situation is a tad bleaker—for instance, only 37% of Saudi Arabians know what cyberbullying means. Russia, South Korea, and Japan all rank below 60%, too.
Cyberbullying Statistics for 2022
Cyberbullying has been around for over two decades now. It first led young people to their deaths over 15 years ago—a threat that has hardly subsided throughout the years.
Let’s see how bad the situation really is.
5. Severe cyber harassment is something 27% of US adults have experienced.
Contrary to popular belief, adult bullying is a thing. Meanness and cruelty towards one another don’t simply disappear when we graduate from school. As a matter of fact, adults are more likely to experience cyberbullying.
41% of adults in the US have been insulted or purposefully embarrassed online. Moreover, 27% report severe cyberbullying—specifically, 18% have received physical threats, been stalked (13%), or sexually harassed (12%).
Fun fact: Differing political views are behind 55% of online harassment cases in the US. Physical appearance, on the other hand, factors in 35% of cyberbullying incidents. Sexual orientation? It’s behind 9% of instances.
6. In OECD countries, 14% of teenagers are victims of cyberbullying.
However, online harassment is significantly more common in certain countries. For instance, cyberbullying statistics reveal that 22% of teenagers in Ireland and Scotland have been bullied online, and so have nearly 25% of adolescents in Latvia.
For comparison, cyberbullying is relatively rare in Greece and France, where just 6% and 8% of teens have encountered abuse on the internet.
(Perhaps this is why awareness is lackluster there, too, or, alternatively, the low awareness leads to underreporting.)
7. Nearly 70% of young people have harassed someone over the internet.
(Source: Ditch the Label)
How common is cyberbullying?
Well, a study found that 69% of young people admitted they had been “abusive” towards someone online. Granted, not all abusive behavior constitutes bullying per se, as the definition can be quite fluid (though “bullying” normally requires the harassment to be willful and regular).
Still, here are some curious stats:
- 35% of teens have sent screenshots of another person’s posts or photos in a group chat to mock them;
- 17% have shared content online with the explicit purpose of ridiculing someone else;
- 16% have sent nasty messages to other people.
At the end of the day, it’s worth thinking about what cyberbullying is and what isn’t. As a rule of thumb, if it feels wrong, it probably is.
Do any of these count as bullying in your book?
They do in ours.
8. Victims and victimizers: 56.9% of tweens have been bullied.
The term “tweens” here refers to children aged 9-12. A recent study revealed that this age group is particularly susceptible to harassment both online and offline, with 56.9% of tweens experiencing at least one of the two.
But what percent of bullying is cyberbullying?
In the case of tweens, about a quarter. It seems the overwhelming majority of bullying episodes happen offline, as 49.8% of tweens report having been bullied at school.
Cyberbullying, on the other hand, has only happened to 25.4% of the bullied tweens. In other words, it has happened to 14.5% of all the younglings in this age group.
What about those that are slightly older?
The US government’s official Stop Bullying website revealed that 15.7% of high schoolers in the country experienced online bullying in 2019.
9. Bullying victims are up to 19 times more likely to report suicidal ideation.
All in all, 89.4% of young people who have suffered bullying have considered suicide. This means that they are 19 times more likely to do so than children and teenagers who’ve never experienced harassment.
That said, the type and the severity of the abuse are important factors.
Victims of cyberbullying are particularly susceptible—they’re 11.5 times as likely to have suicidal ideation. For comparison, adolescents who experience verbal abuse are 8.4 times as likely to consider killing themselves.
Cyberbullying on Social Media
The most common arena for online altercations is social media—and it’s where cyberbullies shine, too.
Be it in your private messages or on a public post, they can strike at any time.
Here are some numbers to help you understand just how widespread online abuse is.
10. Only 6% of teens believe social media is safe.
(Source: Ditch the Label)
We all know how toxic social media can be, but cyberbullying statistics reveal that some platforms are much worse than others.
Instagram leads the pack, as 42% of young people have experienced bullying on it. This is fairly unsurprising, considering the platform is all about posting photos of yourself—that’s obviously going to attract a lot of attention, both positive and negative.
Facebook is number two on the list (37%), and Snapchat comes in third (31%), whereas just 10% of teens who use YouTube have been victims of bullying.
Note: It’s not only social media that can often be an unsafe space for entertainment-seekers. Streaming video games may be easy to do nowadays, but most female players have to put up with sexual harassment while gaming.
11. Facebook removed 15.1 million pieces of hate content in Q1 2022.
Any direct attack on another person or group of people based on personal characteristics can be considered “hate speech.” It’s basically cyberbullying, and it’s also against the Terms of Service of most platforms.
To keep such speech to a minimum, Facebook actively removes it from its network. However, remember that this doesn’t include text bullying—unless you specifically report private messages to Facebook, they stay private.
In Q1 2022, the tech giant deleted 15.1 million pieces of content it classified as “hateful.” If that sounds like a lot, wait until you hear about the 96.4 million posts it deleted in 2021 (25.2 million just in the first quarter).
12. Women are less likely than men to go through online bullying.
Bullying has no gender—the typical social media troll cares little whether his prey is male or female. That said, men are slightly more likely than women to experience cyberbullying as a whole (43% vs. 38%).
This trend holds true for verbal insults and physical threats. However, cyberstalking statistics show that women are nearly 50% more likely to have a stalker (9% of men vs. 13% of women do), as well as three times as likely to be victims of sexual harassment on the internet (5% vs. 16%).
13. In 2021, YouTube removed half a billion comments due to bullying.
Over the course of 2021, the video-sharing giant removed 4.55 billion comments for breaking the platform’s Community Guidelines.
A little over 10% of them (or 491.4 million) included content considered “harassment and cyberbullying.” Another 3.5% (159.4 million) were “hateful or abusive” comments, which apparently fall under a separate category.
14. In 43% of cases, victims don’t know who their cyberbullies are.
Some cyberbullying facts are more alarming than others, and this one is a good example. Typically, when you experience bullying in real life, you’re aware of precisely who’s insulting or hitting you. Chances are you know that person, too.
When it comes to cyberbullying, though, perpetrators can remain anonymous. As it is, only 57% of cyberbullying victims know the person who is harassing them. For comparison, 80% of sexual assault survivors and 89% of female murder victims are acquainted with the perpetrator.
How to Stop Cyberbullying
Basically, it comes down to two things.
Educating people on the matter so they know online harassment is not okay—it may sound simple, but remember that there are many people who don’t even know what cyberbullying is—and passing legislation so that such an act doesn’t go unpunished.
The latter is already a reality in many states, but, unfortunately, it doesn’t really prevent people from harassing others—it just ensures there are consequences when they do.
Still, it’s a definite improvement.
15. Japanese cyberbullies can now face one-year jail terms.
Is cyberbullying a crime?
In some places, yes. For instance, Japan—which had already penalized online harassment with up to 30 days of imprisonment—decided to beef up the punishment to up to one year in jail.
This follows the suicide of a professional wrestler after she faced online bullying. The 22-year-old died in 2020, sparking demands for stricter control.
16. Only two of the 50 states don’t have cyberbullying laws.
Following multiple cyberbullying deaths, most states—all except Alaska and Wisconsin, really—passed laws that explicitly acknowledge online harassment. However, these laws vary substantially.
For instance, while 48 states have legislation aimed at cyberbullying, only 44 include criminal sanctions. Moreover, even though 45 states have laws that detail school sanctions in case of electronic harassment, only 25 of them include off-campus bullying.
Given that most students interact online when they’re not in school, educational institutions often find themselves powerless to discipline internet bullies.
17. Over 60% of tweens block bullies online.
Examples of cyberbullying permeate the internet. From strangers sending you mean text messages on social media to video game trolls killing your character for no reason, it’s hard to avoid harassment online.
Luckily, most children don’t take online abuse to heart: 60.2% of them say they block the bullies, 42.8% simply ignore them, and 29.8% report incidents to customer support directly.
So, we guess there’s at least one thing online bullying has over “traditional” bullying: You can’t block someone from physically beating you up, but you totally can—and should—if it happens in-game.
Cool fact: More than half of American tweens (50.8%) report cases of cyberbullying to their parents. They make us proud.
This certainly wasn’t the most upbeat article we at Web Tribunal have written, but it does tackle a social issue of paramount importance. Consider this text our way of raising awareness.
We hope you, too, can contribute to reducing the figures of many of the cyberbullying statistics we discussed today—not only by not bullying people but also by standing up for others when they need it.
A wayfarer by heart, Jordan fancies journeying into foreign lands with a camera in hand almost as much as he enjoys roving the online world. He spends his time poking at letters and pixels, trying to transmogrify them into something cool.