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Cyberbullying Rising Among Young Adults: Federal Report

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Online bullying is becoming more prevalent among middle and high school students, “even as overall rates of bullying in schools have remained steady,” according to the Washington Post.

In a new study titled Indicators of School Crime and Safety reported from the National Center for Education Statistics, a research center with the U.S. Education Department, “Twenty percent of students between the ages of 12 and 18 were bullied during the 2016-2017 school year.”

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The Washington Post expanding on this by explaining that, “Among those students who faced bullying, 15 percent said they were bullied online or by text, a 3.5 percentage point jump from the 2014-2015 school year.”

Even more disturbing, the study found that, “In 2017, of students ages 12–18 who reported being bullied, about 41 percent reported that they thought the bullying would happen again.”

It’s also reported that young girls are the most frequent victims.

It’s possible, that the reported spike in recorded incidents is due to a greater wiliness to come forward and report online bullying, Kathryn C. Seigfried-Spellar, an associate professor in Purdue University’s Department of Computer & Information Technology said.

According to StopBullying.gov, Cyberbullying can include anything from sending hateful messages to sharing harmful or defaming content about someone else online. Cyberbullying is of special concern because when this kind of harassment occurs online, it’s “Persistent, permanent, and hard to notice.”

An article published in the Journal of School Violence, reports that everyone in the United States should be concerned about the effects of online bullying because, “Students who experienced bullying or cyberbullying are nearly 2 times more likely to attempt suicide.”

Cyberbullying can also create emotional distress which has the potential to lead to self-harm and in some cases, suicide. This kind of harassment can also “put a young person at higher risk for depression, anxiety and lower academic achievement,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Washington Post added a human element to these statistics, citing the tragic stories of Mallory Grossman, a 12-year-old in New Jersey who killed herself in 2017 after her family said she was taunted on Instagram and Snapchat, and bullied in school.

Later that same year, Ashawnty Davis, a 10-year-old from Aurora, Co., died by suicide, “after her family said a video of a schoolyard fight between her and another student was posted online and the girl was bullied.”

Rachel Hansen, a project officer for the National Center for Education Statistics, is optimistic that by publishing this new study, the information can help guide positive reform efforts by schools to stop bullying.

“This can help schools and communities determine where to target their bullying prevention strategies,” said Hansen.

Andrea Cipriano is a TCR news intern.

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