Exploring the relationship between cyberbullying and unnatural child death: An ecological study of twenty-four European countries

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Abstract

Background: Internet risk has been recognised as a child safety problem, but evidence is insufficient to conclude that a child's online risk exposure can lead to physical harm. This study aims to explore the ecological relationship between Internet risk exposure and unnatural child death. Methods: Multiple secondary data sources were used: online exposure to content about self-harm, cyberbullying, and Internet addiction data (EU Kids Online survey, 2010); and mortality data (European Detailed Mortality Database, 2010 or the latest year if not available) of 24 European countries. Correlations were found using quasi-Poisson regression. Countries' prevalence rates of psychiatric problems (European Social Survey Round 3 and 6, 2006 and 2012) were used to test for possible spuriousness. Results: This study finds that countries with higher rates of cyberbullying were more likely to have a higher incidence of unnatural child death. A 1 percent rise in the prevalence of cyberbullying translated into a 28% increase in risk of unnatural child death (95% CI: 2%-57%). No evidence was found to substantiate confounding effect of the national prevalence of depressive symptoms or traditional bullying. Conclusions: Explanations are given for the findings. We conclude that intervention programs designed to serve as precautionary measures for risk minimisation should be considered.

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Fu, K. wa, Chan, C. hong, & Ip, P. (2014). Exploring the relationship between cyberbullying and unnatural child death: An ecological study of twenty-four European countries. BMC Pediatrics, 14(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2431-14-195

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