A large number of researchers will meet at the University of Cambridge this week, and will address the issue of cyberbullying and the implications it has on society. The conference is put together by experts at the University of Toronto and the Institute of Criminology.
Leading criminologists want to bring together as many experts on the topic as possible, from all corners of the world. Participants will share their knowledge on this thorny issue, which is unfortunately becoming increasingly common in schools today.
Official statistics in this regard are appalling. The British Crime Survey indicates that between 2009 and 2010 at least 9 percent of people aged 16 to 24 were the victims of some type of violent crime.
When it comes to bullying specifically, it was found that more than 50 percent of school-aged children are subjected to teasing, rejection, or physical and mental abuse by peers. Between 5 and 15 percent of kids report being bullied at least once per week.
Throughout the United Kingdom, instances of bullying in schools have been gradually declining over the past few years, but that doesn't mean that the behavior is entirely gone. Rather, it is being replaced by cyberbullying, an online version of the same set of actions.
Cambridge Institute of Criminology professor David Farrington and Dr. Maria Ttofi say that bullying can lead to severe depressive symptoms in victims later on in life. Bullies themselves are also very likely to engage in more violent behaviors later on in life.
As such, the only viable option that public health policy-makers have is to put prevention high on their agenda, and figure out methods of suppressing this type of behavior in kids before it gets out of hand.
Between 70 young and established researchers from 12 European countries will discuss aspects related to this issue at the conference. The group will investigate violence prevention approaches that can be integrated with public healthcare programs.
“Until recently there has been very little knowledge exchange between researchers and policy-makers working on innovative prevention approaches across Europe,” explains the deputy director of the Institute of Criminology, Cambridge professor Manuel Eisner.
“For decades, prevention research was dominated by scholarship in the US, which led the way in terms of rigorous evaluation,” the expert goes on to say. He is also one of the organizers for the meeting.
The “conference, which is supported by the European Science Foundation and the Jacobs Foundation, aims to boost knowledge exchange across Europe and open up positive avenues for the next generation of prevention policies,” he adds.
“Our goal is to promote the search for the best prevention strategies across Europe and to encourage co-operation between researchers and policy-makers,” the expert concludes.