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Rise of the Cyberbullies

The Guardian reports that one in 10 teenagers say they are victims of the rise of the cyberbullies according to a survey. Figures published yesterday by MSN showed that 11% of 12 to 15 year-olds had been harassed, bullied or victimised.

Many of the 500 teenagers surveyed said they had received threatening emails or messages, while more than a quarter said somebody had published misleading information about them on the web. With many teenagers using instant messaging, blogs and other websites to keep in contact, the threat of cyberbullying is rising, say experts.

"This research shows that as technology has become more sophisticated, so has the way children are bullied," said Elaine Peace of the children's charity NCH. "It is everyone's responsibility to protect children and young people in every sphere of their lives."

A survey last year showed that more than half of children say bullying is a widespread problem in their school, but the growth in online activity now allows abuse to continue even outside school hours, meaning that victims can continue to be subjected to taunts even in the apparent safety of their own bedrooms.

The prevalence of mobile phones among children has already led many schools to clamp down on abusive text messages, but the growing number of homes with high-speed internet connections means the problem is quickly spreading to new areas. A third of teenagers now use instant messaging on a daily basis, and Microsoft claims that more than 800,000 children are regular users of its own MSN Messenger service.

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