One in four parents say their kids have been involved in cyberbullying

July 14, 2011 at 4:04 PM ET

Nearly a quarter of parents — 24 percent — say their child has been involved in cyberbullying, with nearly 3 out of 4 saying their child was the victim in such incidents, according to a new poll from Norton.

The security software company polled 1,068 parents, and found that less than half — 40 percent —  of parents whose child "witnessed" cyberbullying "talked to their child about how best to stop it." And girls are more often involved in cyberbullying cases than boys: "88 percent of parents revealed their daughters were victims, compared to 54 percent of sons."

The findings may sound familiar to children, parents and educators, with cyberbullying a growing problem. In the Seattle area this week, a 12-year-old girl was sentenced to six months probation after she took digital revenge on a former friend by getting into her Facebook account and posting sexually explicit photos, as well sexual solicitations.

The Norton Cyberbullying Survey found that 52 percent of such activity takes place on social networks, like Facebook; 39 percent via cellphone and texting; and 23 percent by email.

The survey's release conincides with a made-for-TV movie to air this Sunday, "Cyberbully," on the ABC Family Network. The movie is meant to raise awareness about fighting back and getting help for cyberbullying. Seventeen magazine is also involved in the project, with a "Delete digital drama" effort to encourage teens to "delete any kind of cyberbullying."

Norton's survey also found:

  • 30 percent of parents "told their child to 'not get involved' in order to avoid unnecessary 'drama' or worse, 'retaliation.' "
  • 50 percent of single parents whose child witnessed a cyberbullying incident "told their child to 'stay out of it,' compared to 17 percent of married parents."
  • "Nearly half of all parents surveyed either don't have online parenting software installed on their computer (43 percent) or don't know if they do (6 percent)."
  • "When asked how 'in the know' parents feel about their child’s online activity, 18 percent of parents admitted they sort of' know, while 10 percent of parents said 'I ask, but never feel like he or she is telling me everything.'
  • 40 percent of parents "admitted to checking their kids’ browser history to see what they’ve been searching for."

There are several sources of help to deal with cyberbullying: Among them are the National Crime Prevention Council, Cyberbullying Research Center and StopBullying, the latter a government website. The first step, though, is for kids and parents to talk about it — so that nothing is held in or back.

Related stories:

Check out Technolog, Gadgetbox, Digital Life and In-Game on Facebook, and on Twitter, follow Suzanne Choney.