1 in 4 Canadian youths suffered online threats and harassment: StatCan

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One in four Canadian youths have been threatened or harassed online or had their personal information shared without their consent, a new report has concluded.

Those most at risk are transgender and non-binary youth, girls attracted to the same gender and those with chronic conditions.

A Statistics Canada study, released Wednesday, draws on 2019 data from more than 13,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17 about cyber-victimization – online behaviour intended to cause fear, embarrassment or harm “associated with multiple indicators of mental ill health, including suicidal ideation and attempt.”

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The report found young people who experienced cyber-victimization were at a higher risk of having poorer mental health, of experiencing difficulties with depression or anxiety and having elevated eating disorder symptoms.

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And it reported that Canadians between the ages of 15 and 17 who have experienced cyber-victimization were more likely to suffer suicidal ideation and to attempt to die by suicide.

While fellow students usually perpetrate the threatening and derogatory messages and exclusion outside school hours, it may still impact the victims’ “real life” social and school life, the study finds.

StatCan researchers also found a link between using online media frequently and a child’s likelihood of experiencing cyberbullying.

The report concluded by stating that cyber-victimization is associated with similar mental health indicators for all adolescents.

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