Online Bullying Creates a Scary School Climate

A worried teen looks at his computerBullying doesn’t need to happen in person to create a culture of fear and vulnerability. A new study from Sam Houston State University has found that students who experience cyberbullying are more likely to fear being bullied at school.

Cyberbullying and School Anxiety

According to the study, about 7% of students experienced cyberbullying, and 29% experienced traditional bullying. The study surveyed 3,500 American students between the ages of 12 and 18 about their experiences with and feelings about bullying and cyberbullying. Victims of traditional bullying expressed the most fear about going to school, probably because in-school bullying is a foregone conclusion for this group. Cyberbullying victims, though, also explained that they were afraid of going to school. The aggression and hostility they experienced online made them anxious about potential in-person bullying at school. Minority students, as well as those who feared gang activity at school, experienced the most fear after being cyberbullied.

The Psychological Effects of Bullying

Parents once told children to fight back against bullying or to ignore the abuse. The latest study is just one in a long line of research emphasizing the dangers of bullying. We now know that bullying yields serious negative consequences, including:

  • A suicide risk three times higher than students who are not bullied.
  • An increased risk of health problems and health-related absences from school.
  • A greater likelihood of using drugs and alcohol.
  • An increase in mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety.
  • A drop in grades and school participation, and an increased likelihood of dropping out.
  • A minuscule increase in retaliatory violence. Most bullying victims are not violent, but the majority of recent school shootings were committed by bullying victims.

Schools with bullying problems are more likely to have students who dislike or fear school. Students at these schools experience fear and insecurity, and report that teachers don’t care about them.


  1. Breaking News: Cyberbullying Increases Suicide Risk. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  2. Effects of Bullying. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  3. How Bullying Affects Children. (n.d.). Violence Prevention Works! Retrieved from
  4. Online bullying creates off-line fear at school. (2014, July 3). Science Daily. Retrieved from

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  • Judith

    July 7th, 2014 at 12:52 PM

    With cyber bullying being so prevalent today, kids don’t even have a safe place to go when they are waay from school! At least it used to be that kids could go home and escape for a while, but now with phones and computers ans social media sites, that is not even possible anymore! Will there ever be that safety and comfort like we had growing up? I always knew that no matter how bad my day was, if I could just make it home then things would be better. But now, there are still those creeps lurking online no matter where you are or what time of day. Kids deserve better than this and deserve to treat one another better than this!

  • geneva

    July 7th, 2014 at 2:29 PM

    At least with children who are getting bullied at school, this is something that is more likely to be out in the open and will hopefully be seen by the right person at the right time.
    Many kids are so private though that they would never dare tell another adult if this is being done to them online. Tehy might feel like it is hopeless, like this person can be a part of every aspect of their lives no matter what they do.
    It is scary how insiduous some of these bullies are, and if you so much as suspect that this is happening to your child then I would encourage you to address it with him and the school immediately.
    Unfortunately even when you try to ignore pests like this it is a rare time that you will see them go away on their own.

  • Martha

    July 8th, 2014 at 3:13 PM

    I seriously hope that teachers, parents, and school administrators are all paying attention to this, because if left unchecked this is going to lead to a generation that is out of control.

  • justin

    July 9th, 2014 at 4:22 AM

    I don’t understand this climate that has been created where there are so many kids this age who are more concerned with being mean and nasty to each other than they are making friends. I guess that they see this as a path to friendship because then they feel like others start looking up to them, but what they don’t see is that people are just afraid of crossing paths with them. I will never understand this mission that some kids have to pick on the weak one in the bunch and make this person feel terrible or even worse, harm them physically. They wouldn’t want this done to them and yet they have no problem doing it to someone else. It is very sad what school has become for so many kids, and now with online bullying everywhere they look can be torment.

  • Mal

    July 10th, 2014 at 4:59 PM

    When we read about the complications that can arise as a result of being the target of a bully, parents should be terribly alarmed. These are otherwise great kids who, because of treatment from others, now have a greater risk of having suicidal thoughts and following through with them; being depressed; becoming an addict; and basically having a terrible life all because they have been targeted by some bully who think s that this is the only way he can show others he is in control.

  • theodore

    July 12th, 2014 at 7:49 AM

    Many times we discount the things going on behind the scenes with students but the fear that many of them have about having to come into contact with their tormentor face to face is so scary that great students become mediocre ones or even failing students. I can understand that, because where there is that much fear how can there then be any hope for success or achievement?

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