Cyberbullying in Canada

Here are some facts about cyberbullying and digital media use in Canada:

  • In 2007 Kids Help Phone administered a survey of 2,474 young people aged 13-15, where over 70% of respondents reported having been bullied online and 44% reported having bullied someone at least once. The same study also revealed that many kids were unaware that cyberspace is not personal, and that the flow of information is difficult or impossible to control. [1]
  • In 2011 Kids Help Phone published a follow up research update which revealed that in comparing the 2011 and 2007 surveys, according to the survey respondents, cyberbullying behaviour is now most rampant on social networking platforms. Also, as young people abandon email in favour of phone-based text messaging, text messaging now replaces email as the second most common platform for cyberbullying. [2]
  • A 2010 research project, “Cyber Bullying Behaviors Among Middle and High School Students,” studied 33 Toronto junior high and high schools and reported that 49.5% of students surveyed had been bullied online. In all three of these studies, a majority of participants report that they did not tell anyone about the bullying. [3]
  • The Canadian Teachers Federation commissioned poll (2008) showed that 34% of Canadians surveyed knew of students in their community who had been targeted by cyberbullying in the past year while one in five were aware of teachers who had been cyberbullied. The poll also showed that almost one in 10 knew someone close to them who had been cyberbullied. Canadian teachers ranked cyberbullying as their issue of highest concern from the six listed options with 89% suggesting bullying and violence are serious problems in our public schools. [4]
  • In the Nova Scotia Cyberbullying Task Force Online Survey (2011), 75% of respondents said they believe bullying is a problem in Nova Scotia, and 60% of Nova Scotia student respondents indicate that they have been bullied. [5].
  • A study by Define the Line Director Dr. Shaheen Shariff found that, of 500 Montreal students in grades 6-9 (11-15 years old), 95% had internet access in their homes. [6]
  • Preliminary research funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for Canada (SSHRC, Shariff, 2009-11) discloses a disturbing trend which suggests at least 60% of digital natives are less sensitive to, or sometimes cannot distinguish the difference between harmless jokes or teasing, and harmful threats, privacy harm and persistent harassment.

One of the many challenges facing researchers and policymakers is the lack of wide-ranging statistical data across youth populations in Canada, on both the incidence of bullying and cyberbullying and the effectiveness of the various programs and strategies developed to reduce bullying. Define the Line Director Dr. Shaheen Shariff is currently overseeing two research projects on cyberbullying funded by a) the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for Canada; and b) Facebook’s Digital Citizenship Grant. Results of both studies will be published on this website.


[1] Elizabeth Lines, “Cyberbullying: Our Kids’ New Reality,” Kids Help Phone (April 2007).

[2] Lila Knighton et al, “Cyberbullying Reality Check,” Kids Help Phone (2012).

[3] Faye Mishna et al, “Cyber Bullying Behaviors Among Middle and High School Students,”  American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 80, no. 3 (2010):  362–374.

[4] N.S.T.U. Cyberbullying Statistics, National Issues in Education Poll,” Canadian Teachers’ Federation (2008).

[5] A. Wayne MacKay C.M., Q.C. “Respectful and Responsible Relationships: There’s No App for That”  The Report of the Nova Scotia Task Force on Bullying and Cyberbullying (2012).

[6] Shaheen Shariff and Andrew H. Churchill, Truths and Myths of Cyber-bullying: International perspectives on stakeholder responsibility and children’s safety. (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc, 2009).