For many parents, bullying is still little more than an uncomfortable childhood rite of passage. But cyberbullying means bullies can attack their victims free of risk, and often without even revealing their identities. More than a quarter of cyberbullying victims contemplate suicide, suggesting that cyberbullying is far more than just an annoyance. According to a new analysis published in JAMA Pediatrics, nearly 1 in 4 children is a cyberbullying victim.
Cyberbullying: A Common Experience
Researchers looked at 36 different cyberbullying studies. The original studies found a cyberbullying prevalence that ranged from 4.8% to 73.5%. When they calculated the actual rate of cyberbullying, researchers arrived at a median figure of 23%, suggesting that almost 1 in 4 children has been cyberbullied.
Relationship issues were the most common justification for cyberbullying, with girls significantly more likely to be bullied than boys. Name-calling, gossip, and rumors were the most common forms of bullying, with many children reporting that bullies circulated their pictures. Some bullying victims tried to stop the abuse by blocking the bully, but most children reported that little could be done to stop the bullying.
The Effects of Cyberbullying
The review found an inconsistent relationship between cyberbullying and some mental health issues, but the connection between bullying and depression was strong. Other studies have also uncovered a link between cyberbullying and substance abuse, low self-esteem, self-harm, and behavioral difficulties.
Some research suggests that cyberbullying is more likely to cause suicidal thoughts than traditional bullying. This may be because cyberbullying is more difficult to escape. Children may not know the identity of the attacker, contributing to chronic anxiety and distrust.
Though no federal laws address bullying, many states require schools to have anti-bullying policies. When bullying rises to the level of harassment or stalking, parents may be able to seek additional legal remedies.
- Analysis finds 23% of children are victims of cyberbullying. (2013, June 23). Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/295740.php
- Bullying, cyberbullying, and suicide statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.meganmeierfoundation.org/statistics.html
- Federal laws. (2014, March 31). Retrieved from http://www.stopbullying.gov/laws/federal/
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