Pandemic-enforced remote school as often tough, but school via Zoom provided some relief to at least one group of kids: those at the mercy of bullies.
In a new study, researchers find rates of bullying fell dramatically in the United States when schools shut their doors in spring 2020—dropping between 30 and 40%.
Surprisingly—given all those Zoom lessons and spikes in screen time—levels of cyberbullying also fell by a similar rate when children were stuck at home. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, more than one in five children between 12 and 18 reported experiencing pre-pandemic bullying, while around one in six say they’d been victims of cyberbullying.
The research team used publicly available Google Trends data to look at internet searches for bullying before and after schools went remote because of COVID-19, then compared what they found to national bullying survey data.
“This analysis established that internet searches for bullying are strong predictors of actual bullying victimization,” says Andrew Bacher-Hicks, assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies at Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development.
Using Google search data is “particularly useful for tracking real-time trends. In this case, the pandemic evolved so rapidly—and demanded quick policy responses—that real-time analysis was crucial.”
Here Bacher-Hicks talks about the study’s findings and their implications for tackling bullying in a post-pandemic world:
Source: Boston University