Whom do parents fear more, Stranger Danger or a Facebook friend? According to a national survey commissioned by Care.com, Inc. (http://www.care.com), bullying and cyberbullying have eclipsed kidnapping as the greatest fear parents have regarding their children's safety.
Nearly one in three (30%) parents of children 12-17 years old fear bullying and cyberbullying over kidnapping, domestic terrorism, car accidents, suicide or any other incident. And of parents whose children are under 12 years old, more than one in four (27%) parents say they are most afraid of bullying and cyberbullying, with kidnapping only slightly higher (30%).
Care.com, Inc., the premier source of trustworthy family care options, including profiles of hundreds of thousands of babysitters, nannies, and senior caregivers, found that parents are taking the issue seriously. In response to recent news coverage of teens being bullied or cyberbullied across the country, 75% of parents are now monitoring text messages and social media activity. They report also now speaking with their children about the dangers of bullying.
Is technology to blame? Parents clearly feel that it is. Almost two out of three (62%) parents agree that increased use of texting, social media activity and the playing of more violent video games are resulting in meaner behavior among kids. This concern increases in the South (71%) and Northeast (67%), but decreases to half (50%) of parents in the Midwest.
Parents want their children's schools to take action. More than one in three parents surveyed, report encouraging their schools to create anti-bullying programs and have teachers address bullying as well. Nearly half (46%) feel that the schools are listening, giving their children's schools a grade of A or B. However, one out of five parents (19%) feel that their schools are doing a poor job or simply failing their kids when it comes to this issue.
"Mean kids and bullies are not new, but the access to social media networks and cell phones that can make bullying both anonymous and seemingly innocuous is the new danger. And parents are genuinely afraid," said Wendy Sachs, editor-in-chief of Care.com. "Our study found that parents are also stepping up and want their schools and communities involved."
The failure increases in the West, where more than one out of four parents (29%) give their children's schools a poor or failing grade. By comparison, more than half (57%) of parents in the Northeast believe their schools are doing a good job at handling bullying. Other findings include:
- Fathers fear bullying and cyberbullying the most, of which a quarter of men (25%) cite it as the number one fear, compared with a third (35%) of mothers who perceive kidnapping to be the greatest danger.
- In New York, one in three parents (31%) cite bullying and cyberbullying as a greater fear than domestic terrorism (19%) despite the WTC attacks less than ten years ago.
- The Midwest is the most concerned about bullying and cyberbullying, where a third of parents (33%) felt it was the most significant fear for them.
- Western states parents remain most concerned about kidnapping with 43% versus bullying and cyberbullying (20%). However, when asked to evaluate what their child's school has done to educate kids about the dangers of bullying and cyberbullying, one out of four (24%) gave a poor or failing grade (D or F).
- In the South, kidnapping and bullying and cyberbullying are of equal concern to parents with a quarter of parents (24%) acknowledging that they are fearful of them.
The Care.com survey was conducted via a national telephone survey among a weighted sample of 394 adults 18 years of age and older living in private households in the continental United States. Interviewing for this CARAVAN Survey was completed during the period October 8-11, 2010.