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A new report from Statistics Canada says almost one in every five young Canadians – about 1.1 million people – has been a victim of cyberbullying or cyberstalking.

Within that group of 15 to 29 year olds – the most likely age cohort to be cyberbullying victims – about one-third said they were victims of cyberbullying, another third said they were victims of cyberstalking, and another third said they had experienced both.

Being a victim of either cyberbullying or cyberstalking raises the risk of having a reported emotional, psychological or mental health condition and a low level of trust in people at school, work, or in the neighbourhood, the report says.

Cyberbullying victims generally reported mental health and trust issues, while cyberstalking victims were more likely to have taken steps to protect themselves from becoming victims of crime.

The researchers say that various trust, behavioural and mental health concerns may not be direct consequences of cyberbullying or cyberstalking.

The study marks the first time Statistics Canada has delved this deeply into the issue of cyberbullying, expanding on earlier work and bringing in effects that cyberstalking has on Canadians young and old.

As a result, the researchers said comparisons to earlier work cannot be readily made.

The study defined cyberbullying as receiving threatening messages, seeing pictures that were embarrassing or perceived as threatening, or having the victim's identity used to send out or post embarrassing or threatening information.

Cyberstalking involves people receiving unwanted electronic messages, or having someone post inappropriate, unwanted or personal information about them or pictures on social media.

Researchers studying data found that the homosexual and bisexual populations were more likely than heterosexuals to be victims of cyberbullying. Cyberstalking was more prevalent against young women, Canadians who were single or never been married and those with low incomes.

The study says that having witnessed domestic violence as a child, or being a victim of sexual or physical assault prior to age 15 were the most important factors associated with a higher probability of being cyberstalked or cyberbullied.

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