RESEARCH is to be carried out for the first time in Scotland to help deal with the new challenges posed by online bullying.

The work, which will look at how bullying and cyber-bullying overlap and the best ways of dealing with them, has been commissioned by the Scottish Government.

Learning Minister Alasdair Allan said many youngsters do not consider online insults to be the same as bullying in person.

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But he stressed that abuse online could be just as devastating as any other form of attack to victims.

Mr Allan said the research will identify where there is overlap between face-to-face abuse and online attacks.

"Importantly, it will also give us an accurate picture of how young people and their families are affected and how we can best support them," he added.

The work is being done in partnership with the anti-bullying service respectme. Its director, Brian Donnelly, said: "This research will enable us to help parents and professionals get a clear national picture of how young people are experiencing bullying in 2014."

He added: "Crucially this will support and influence effective responses that recognise relationships play out online and face-to-face more than ever."

Mr Allan stressed: "Online bullying - like all forms of abuse - is unacceptable."

The minister, who hosted a summit with Children's Minister Aileen Campbell on the issue last year, added that cyber-bullying presents "new challenges to the traditional ways we would recommend dealing with the situation".