SEOUL, April 25 (Yonhap) — Cases of cyberbullying involving elementary to high school students increased sharply last year as the new coronavirus pandemic turned many classes online, a survey showed Sunday.

According to the survey released by the Blue Tree Foundation, cyberbullying accounted for 16.3 percent of all school bullying cases experienced by respondents last year, up more than threefold from 5.3 percent in 2019.

The survey canvassed 6,230 students attending elementary, middle and high schools in 17 cities and provinces from December to January.

Verbal abuse was tallied as the most frequently experienced type of school violence last year, accounting for 32.1 percent. Group bullying was the third, making up 13.2 percent, the survey also showed.

Of the all polled students, 6.7 percent said they experienced school bullying last year, down 4.5 percentage points from the previous year.

The survey also showed that online verbal abuse was the most common form of cyberbullying, accounting for 37 percent, followed by defamation at 16.7 percent and ostracization at 10.5 percent.

According to the respondents, such bullying cases happen most frequently on KakaoTalk, the country’s leading mobile messenger service, as well as on Facebook and TikTok.

 Asked to name what makes it difficult to resolve cyberbullying, 41.1 percent cited anonymity while others pointed to the way that such cases can spread online.