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Primus: Survey Reveals Half of Canadian Parents Believe Their Kids Could Be Cyberbullying Others

Majority of parents wait for children to report cyberbullying; parents of girls most concerned

TORONTO – JULY 9, 2014 - As summer vacation gets into full swing, children of all ages will be looking for things to do and places to go, with many of them heading online. But a recent survey reveals that unless they have been given the right skills and tools to protect themselves online, this may not be the safest place for them to hang out this summer – even if it is from the safety of their own home.

The Protecting Canadian Families Online survey reveals that a surprising half of Canadian parents are concerned their child could be cyberbullying others. Conducted by Leger on behalf of Primus Telecommunications Canada (Primus), this online study of Canadian parents with children between the ages of eight and 16 years provides important insight into the state of cyberbullying in Canada.

“It’s deeply concerning that half of Canadian parents are worried their child may in fact be bullying other children online,” explains Primus executive and online safety advocate Brad Fisher. “Although cyberbullying is a relatively new phenomenon, it has very quickly become a serious concern for parents across the country.”

According to PREVNet, the leading authority on bullying prevention in Canada, it can be difficult for parents to imagine happy and popular children or teens engaging in aggressive, inappropriate or bullying behaviour online. However, the reality is that well-adjusted children and teens account for half of all cyberbullying acts in Canada.

“Given the anonymous nature of the Internet, we see young people acting in ways they would never consider when face-to-face,” states Dr. Wendy Craig, Scientific Co-Director, PREVNet. “And since cyberbullying is such a complex issue, parents and children across the country and around the world need to seek out the skills to navigate the complexities of these online interactions. One of our goals is to provide Canadians with the tools they need to ensure their every interaction online is positive and safe.”

Majority of parents wait for children to report cyberbullying
The majority of Canadian parents are overly optimistic their children will take the first steps to report being bullied online. In fact 89 per cent of parents surveyed feel their children would tell them if they were being cyberbullied. However, according to research by PREVNet, only a small percentage of cyberbullying gets reported, with only eight per cent of teens reporting incidents to their parents.

“Most children don’t tell their parents they are being cyberbullied because they don’t think their parents will know what to do or how to help them,” explains Craig. “The good news is that organizations like PREVNet are dedicated to educating parents on this important issue and providing them with the resources they will need to protect their families online.”

To compound the situation, parents are waiting until their children are older to start talking about the risks of cyberbullying. By the age of eight, when most parents (72 per cent) have already spoken with their children about the dangers of bullying, only 33 per cent are just beginning to discuss online bullying.

“Our survey results send a strong signal that cyberbullying awareness and prevention must become a top priority for parents as soon as their child has access to the internet − whether it’s through a family computer, a smart phone or even a gaming console,” explains Fisher. “And with the pervasiveness of social media and texting on cellphones and other devices, the need for education on this issue is more important than ever to help protect Canadian families online.”

Parents of girls more concerned about cyberbullying; mothers more concerned than fathers on a number of youth issues
When expressing levels of concern about important issues affecting children and teens today, more than half (53 per cent) of Canadian parents with girls between the ages of eight and 16 showed concern about the issue of online bullying, compared to 43 per cent of parents with sons. While there are gender differences in the type of cyberbullying children may be exposed to, boys are just as much at risk as girls. Female parents are also significantly more likely to be concerned than male parents about exposure to sexual content online (64 per cent vs. 50 per cent), body image (55 per cent vs. 47 per cent), fitting in (50 per cent vs. 42 per cent), and being good people (48 per cent vs. 43 per cent).

Parents who were bullied show a higher level of concern their child could be cyberbullied
Half of Canadian parents surveyed admit to being bullied in some capacity during their lives. An additional 23 per cent of parents indicated something happened to them that resembled bullying, but they weren’t sure how to label it. When asked where they were bullied and by whom, respondents indicated at school (90 per cent), outside of school by a non-family member (47 per cent), by a family member (23 per cent), and online (five per cent). The legacy of this experience is having an impact on their parenting approach: the survey found that parents who were bullied are more concerned their children could be cyberbullied (39 per cent) than parents that have not been bullied (31 per cent).

Canadian parents also experience cyberbullying not only by strangers but by people they know
Children are not the only ones at risk of being cyberbullied. The survey found that almost one-in-ten (eight per cent) Canadian parents have been cyberbullied in the following ways: on social media channels by someone not known to them (28 per cent), via email by someone known to them (18 per cent), via text by someone known to them (15 per cent), via email by someone not known to them (14 per cent), and online by a friend/acquaintance (10 per cent).

Online safety and cyberbullying prevention tips for parents
Together with PREVNet, Primus has developed a series of tips parents can download and use to learn about online safety so they can educate their children on cyberbullying prevention.

About the survey
The Protecting Canadian Families Online Survey was conducted using LegerWeb, Leger’s online panel, from April 22 to April 28, 2014. The survey targeted parents from across Canada who have at least one child between the ages of 8-16 who have access to the Internet in their home. A probability sample of the same size (n=1000) would yield a margin of error of +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

About Primus Telecommunications Canada Inc.
Primus Telecommunications Canada Inc. is the largest alternative telecommunications service provider in Canada. Primus offers a wide selection of consumer and business telecommunications services available nationwide including Home Phone, Internet, Long Distance, VoIP, Enterprise IP Voice Solutions, Hosted Phone Systems (Hosted PBX), Dedicated Data Access and IP connectivity solutions. In the United States, Primus provides reliable and affordable digital home phone (VoIP) service under the Lingo brand. Acquired by York Capital Management in July 2013, Primus Canada was founded in 1997 and has over 600 employees located in offices across Canada including Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, London and Edmundston. For further information, visit primus.ca.

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 119 leading Canadian research scientists along with their graduate students and emerging scholars, 29 universities, and 56 national child and 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.

For interview requests or further information please contact:

Terance Brouse
Broad Reach Communications
647-274-5249
tbrouse@broadreachcommunications.com