The numbers vary a lot. Here are a few credible stats from academic research:
- The Centers for Disease Control released a study in June 2014 showing that 14.8% of students had been “electronically bullied,” including through e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, websites, or texting, during the 12 months before the survey (Table 17 in the PDF) — compared to 19.6% who had been bullied on school property (traditional bullying) during the 12 months prior to the survey.
- The National Center for Educational Statistics reported in 2011 that 9% of students in grades 6-12 experienced cyberbullying.
- The Cyberbullying Research Center reports that “on average, about 24% of the students who have been a part of our last six studies have said they have been the victim of cyberbullying at some point in their lifetime.”
- Dan Olweus, who the editor of the European Journal of Development Psychology referred to as the “father of bullying research” wrote a 2012 article for that journal where he said that “claims about cyberbullying made in the media and elsewhere are greatly exaggerated and have little empirical scientific support.” Based on a three-year survey of more than 440,000 U.S. children (between 3rd and 12th grade), 4.5% of kids had been cyberbullied compared to 17.6% who had been verbally bullied. An even more interesting statistic from that study is that only 2.8% of kids had bullied others electronically.
- A 2011 Pew study found that 15% of teens say they have been the “target of online meanness.” When you include in-person encounters, 19% say they’ve been “bullied” in the past year.
- An article in the July, 2013 Journal of Adolescent Health by Robin Kowalski and Susan Limber reviews several studies to show a vast range of cyberbullying from 4% to 72%* and concludes, “there appears to be a substantial, although not perfect, overlap between involvement in traditional bullying and cyberbullying. Additionally, the physical, psychological, and academic correlates of the two types of bullying resembled one another.”
*The 72% figure comes from this study. If you go to the methodology section you’ll see it’s an opt-in survey from a single website, Bolt.com, which closed down after allegations of copyright infringements. Researchers generally agree that this is a very unscientific sampling method. View this slideshow from Pew for more:
Cyberbullying 2010: What the Research Tells Us from Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project