There is a worldwide movement against bullying. No longer can all bullies get away with attacks on the weaker ones. Parents, teachers, students, teens, children, and community leaders, agree to work on the efforts to, “STOP BULLYING!” Some bullies, who used to get away with these negative behaviors, are no longer able to do these bad things in front of others without having a challenge.
Now it is cooler to challenge bullying than it used to be in the past. Enlightened teenagers, who go to schools with a zero-tolerance for bullying, know that all they have to do is start screaming, “STOP BULLYING,” whenever they see it. The reaction of teachers, staff, and school administration is immediate.
This positive trend is gaining global momentum. Because of this, bullying is decreasing in terms of middle school bullying and high school cyberbullying. Nevertheless, the problem has not gone away completely. In some parts of the world, it is increasing.
Cyberbullying statistics show that efforts to prevent cyberbullying at school and in the university, help kids, teens, and young adults have a safe place to learn. What about the characteristics of bullying that occur in other places? It is important to stop cyberbullying at work also.
It is surprising that adults, who should know better, engage in Internet bullying. Because online connections are so easy to make, there is the ability to communicate 24 hours per day and seven days per week.
In other words, there is no escape from cyberbullying attacks if attempted by a co-worker at any time of night or day. Many are so fearful of losing their jobs that they respond to any communication from a company resource at any time when the message arrives. This could be after work hours, in the middle of the night, or in the earliest part of the morning.
It is offsetting to get messages from company channels at these odds times. This is why some countries, like Germany, have laws than ban company communications by electronic means in times that are not directly work related.
When these messages arrive at odd times, which are work-related, it is bad enough; however, when the messages are workplace cyberbullying, they are unacceptable. Cyberbullying laws in many places make it a crime for adults to use cyberbullying on social media or by any other means to harass a co-worker. Office bullying, like sexual harassment, is illegal in most developed nations. Harassment in the workplace creates liability for the organizations that permit it to occur and continue.
If an employee conducts the harassment against a co-worker, the laws against cyberbullying support lawsuits with significant damage awards in proven cyberbullying cases. Because of this, companies are taking cyberbullying awareness seriously, when employees are involved.
No one needs to be harassed in off-time hours and no one should be the recipient of cyberbullying. The hope is that other countries follow the lead set by Germany. Work time and private time are different. Just because communication is possible, does not make it acceptable.
Types of Bullying in the USA
Bullying in America is an epidemic. It can be verbal, physical, sent through electronic means, and even political. Counter-measures are coming into place, such as a national zero-tolerance for bullying in public schools; however, bullying still happens in America.
Because so many children and teens have access to technology connected to the Internet, cyber bullying in the USA is still rampant. Heidi Cohen who is a renown Internet guru regarding social media usage, notes that American teens in 2015 interact with each other via social media more than every before. Statistics on cyberbullying help understand how to deal with the problem. Parents need to learn how to protect a teen. They can do this by understanding the teen suicides caused by cyberbullying, so they can prevent their own teen from committing suicide. Many horrible examples appeared as national news stories.
The chances for encountering cyberbullying online increased for American teens because they have such frequent and steady online access. A study of American teens by the Pew Research Center noted in 2016 that about 24% of American teens are online constantly. More than half of American teens are online several times per day. The vast majority of teens in America (nearly two-thirds) have a smart phone. About 91% of teens go online, at least occasionally.
How does cyberbullying occur?
It can start with text messages, emails, tweets, or comments on social media, such as on a Facebook page. Facebook bullying is typically comments like, “You are fat,” or “You are ugly,” or the more vicious, “You don’t deserve to live,” or “You should kill yourself.”
Not everyone knows how to handle bullying. It may sound ridiculous that teens who receive the comment, “You should kill yourself,” act on it. Most would simply respond, “Piss off.” However, many teens take these comments very seriously. Some act on them in very harmful ways especially if they receive a constant barrage of these hateful messages. Cyberbullying signs are not always easy for parent to see and the long term effects of cyberbullying are extremely harmful.
Cyberbullying statistics give many examples of cyberbullying leading to teenage suicide. In an article about this topic, NoBullying.com covered some of the saddest stories of cyberbullying:
- Amanda Todd – A stranger online tricked Amanda into sending photos of her breasts. He used them to blackmail her. She made an online video about the bullying and then, one month later, she hung herself. She was 15.
- Hope Sitwell – Hope sent a private photo of her breasts to her boyfriend. He shared it with students at six other schools in the area. The cyberbullies started a “Hope Hater” webpage on MySpace, which led her to hang herself at the age of 13.
- Jessica Logan – Jessica sent a private nude photo of herself to her boyfriend. When they broke up, he shared the photo with hundreds of other students. The cyberbullying attacks came on Facebook, MySpace, and by emails. She hanged herself when she was 18.
- Megan Meier – Megan had ADD, depression, and difficulty with her weight. Cyberbullying by girls, pretending to be a boy that liked her and then rejected her, led her to hang herself when she was 13.
- Ryan Halligan – Ryan had learning disabilities. A school bully spread a rumor that he was gay. A popular girl student befriended him online, only to use what she learned to humiliate him. Ryan hung himself when he was 14.
- Tyler Clementi – Tyler killed himself when he was 18 because a spying webcam captured him having a same-sex relationship. Harassment was on Twitter with the video shown to others.
The challenge with cyberbullying is that teachers, parents, and authorities may not realize what is happening in time to save those who are under attack. When a person already has learning disabilities, self-esteem issues, or mental health problems they are extremely vulnerable to this type of vicious cyberbullying attack.
Teens who commit suicide are usually already struggling with emotional and social issues. Cyberbullying itself is not the sole cause of these teen suicides. The cyberbullying makes a bad situation worse, because it reinforces the lowering of self-esteem that leads a teen to despair.
A suicide attempt, as well as being a desperate call out for help, is an act of revenge against society, other students, and possibly their parents. If they die from suicide, their thoughts convinced them that there was no way out. We all need to learn why people cyberbully, what causes it, the effects of cyberbullying, and how to stop it.
Facts About Cyberbullying in America
A research paper published by Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D. and Justin W. Patchin, Ph.D. of the Cyberbullying Research Center gives horrific facts that are shocking. They conducted a survey of 2,000 randomly selected middle school students from a large school district in the United States to assess the history of cyberbullying and gather more cyberbullying information.
Their analysis of the survey results showed these cyberbullying facts:
- One in five of these students (20%) had seriously thought about suicide and almost all of those who thought of suicide (19%), also attempted it.
- Students who were the bullies (offenders) had similar suicidal tendencies as those students that were the bullying victims.
- When comparing the rates between traditional bullying and cyberbullying the statistics were similar.
- Compared to students with no experience of bullying or being a bully, traditional bullies were 2.1 times more likely to have attempted suicide and their victims were 1.7 times more likely to have attempted suicide.
- For cyberbullying, the rates for bullies were 1.5 times more likely to have attempted suicide and their victims were 1.9 times more likely to have attempted suicide.
- The most common form of cyberbullying attack was posting something online to make fun of another person. Of the surveyed teens, 23.1% admitted doing this.
- The most common form of cyberbullying victimization was receiving a hurtful email from someone they know. Of the surveyed teens, 18.3% complained about receiving such emails.
Are Bullies Victims Too?
The surprising thing to note from this research is that bullies who victimized other students were just as likely to attempt suicide as their victims were. Clearly, the bullies are suffering from problems as well.
Other research, reported by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), points out a correlation between being a bully and being a victim of child abuse at home. The NASP says that bullies are often from home environments that lack supervision, have parents that are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, and suffer from physical, and emotional abuse. They note that children exposed to bullying from parents or sibling bullying are likely to copy this behavior and become bullies themselves.
A study report on the U.S. National Institute for Health website, investigating why people cyberbully, shows a direct relationship between alcohol use by parents and increased bullying behavioral problems. These problems include being a bully or being a victim of a bully. The problem starts at a young age. Boys with alcoholic fathers were significantly likely to engage in primary bullying or if insecure become a victim of a bully.
Frequent, severe, and long-lasting cyberbullying as reported by Kidshealth.org puts both the victims and the bullies at great risk of depression, anxiety, stress-based illnesses, self-harm, and suicide.
Cyberbullying in America
Kidshealth.org notes that one in four American teens is a victim of cyberbullying and one in six U.S. teens admits to cyberbullying another teen.
The real challenge of how to prevent cyberbullying is that most American teens are constantly online, sending text messages, and engaging with social media. When a teen is under cyber attack from a bully, there is no escaping the relentless 24-hour/7 days a week online media. Many do not have sufficient coping skills to know how to deal with the attack or know about resources that can help them.
Olweus Bullying Prevention Program
Each year, Hazelden Publishing releases a Bullying in U.S. Schools report. The most current version, as of this writing, comes from the year 2014. This report summarizes the results that come from the Olweus Bullying Questionnaire™, developed by Dan Olweus, PhD. who works at the University of Bergen in Norway.
Background of Dr. Olweus
Dr. Olweus studied the bullying problem for decades and is one of the first researchers in the world to conduct large-scale analysis of the causes and prevalence of bullying. The annual studies using student questionnaires serve as a report on the bullying trends in America and proof of bullying reduction after schools implement an Olweus Bullying Prevention Program,
Educational Level of Students in the Study
The 2014 Olweus Bullying Questionnaire™ collected data from 150,000 students. The students attended schools, which had the intent to implement the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program in the future. This allowed the schools to learn how bad the problem really was.
All students from grades 3 to 12 in America, who participated in the study, answered the same questionnaire. This provides a unique dataset to use for evidence-based bullying reduction by yearly monitoring the status of bullying and anti-social behavior in schools.
The report notes that girls are likely to experience bullying by both girls and boys. Boys are more likely to experience bullying from other boys. Verbal bullying is the most common form at school, with 15% of boys reporting it and 16% of the girls reporting that they have been subject to verbal bullying two or three times or more during a month. Only 8% of the boys reported physical bullying, compared with 5% of the girls.
Bullying Takes Many Forms
When trying to define what is a bully, there are ten forms of bullying studied by Dr. Olweus included in the definition.
This list is in order with the most common bullying method listed first:
- Other ways
Students who experienced bullying typically experienced three or more of these ten types of bullying at the same time.
Extent of Cyberbullying from the Olweus Study
The cyberbullying statistics discovered by the study showed 6% of the girls reported being cyberbullied and 4% of the boys reported they had been subject to cyberbullying attacks. Dr. Olweus notes that cyberbullying may not be as common as the media would make it appear, yet it is still serious, and often happens in combination with other types of bullying simultaneously.
Cyberbullying Increases with Older Students
For those students bullied two or three times or more during a month, cyberbullying is more frequent as they get older. For bullied girls in the third to fifth-grade, 15% experienced cyberbullying. In the sixth to eight-grade this increased to 27% and for those in high school 31% had been cyberbullied. For bullied boys, in the third to fifth-grade, 15% experienced cyberbullying. In the sixth to eight-grade this decreased to 14% and for those in high school 28% experienced cyberbullying.
On average, for a bullied student, the frequency of cyberbullying doubles during high school. This is because of more access and more use of online and electronic communications by older students.
About 25% of bullied students report that bullying lasted for several years, 39% reported that the bullying lasted longer than one year, and 51% reported the bullying lasted for six months ore more. It is no wonder than some of these bullied students are driven to despair, especially when cyberbullying is possible non-stop 24 hours of every day.
Imagine what it must be like to get a text message you think is from a friend and instead you are called a “dirty whore,” “slut, “porn queen,” and more vulgarities. This is what cyberbullies did constantly to Jessica Logan, who killed herself.
How Bad is the Cyberbullying Problem?
The cyberbullying trends are similar in most parts of the world where teens and children experience a lot of online access. The more time they spend online and the more devices they have to connect electronically with others, the greater the risk of cyberbullying.
Some parents consider restrictions for online access, yet they need to be careful that they do not do more harm than good. If a student already feels socially isolated, cutting off online access may make matters worse. Nevertheless, monitoring of online usage by parents is the recommendation of many child psychologists. They recommend watching for sudden negative mood changes after Internet usage
The Bullying in U.S. Schools report noted that over one-third of both boys and girls being bullied in high school do not tell their parents about it. . If the cyberbullying is spreading around a nude photo without authorization, it is very unlikely a teen can talk to their parents about it. Nevertheless, this is exactly the kind of thing that needs to happen between parents whose children experience cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying is only one piece of the bullying that occurs. Bullied students say bullying happens on and off the school campus and in many places. Unfortunately, some students join in with the bullying of someone they do not like. Some will simply watch and do nothing.
One positive trend in America is that most students from all age groups feel sorry for bullied students (93% of the girls and 82% of the boys). About half the students, who feel sorry for a bullied student, will take action to help them. This amount increases and can be measured once an extensive anti-bullying campaign is in place, such as the bullying prevention programs recommended by Dr. Olweus.
American Cyberbullying Facts
The Megan Meier Foundation gives a list of cyberbullying statistics for America, which include:
- Around 43% of students report being cyberbullied. This is far less than the 15% reported by their parents.
- Teenage girls are more likely (40.6%) to be cyberbullied than teenage boys (28.2%).
- Using social media for cyberbullying, girls post mean comments. Boys are more likely to post hurtful photos or videos.
- 61% of overweight teens experience cyberbullying.
- 60% of teens in 2013 reported that they now keep their Facebook profiles private and have confidence in managing their account.
- One in six teens said they had contact from a stranger online that made them feel uncomfortable or scared.
- 88% of teens that use social media observed people using the system to be mean or cruel to others and 95% of those teens say that others ignore the mean behavior.
Global Cyberbullying Trends
An article about a poll conducted by Ipsos/Reuters, which surveyed over 18,000 adults (about 6,500 were parents) from 24 different countries, gives some global cyberbullying statistics, which include:
- Over 10% of parents worldwide say that their child experienced cyberbullying and 25% say they know a child who experienced it.
- More than 75% of the people surveyed said that they thought cyberbullying was a dangerous type of harassment needing extra attention from schools and parents.
- 60% said that the most common ways to encounter cyberbullying was to use Facebook or other social media
- 40% said that mobile devices that receive text messages and online chat rooms were the second most common place to receive cyberbullying
- The average awareness of cyberbullying worldwide was that two-thirds knew something about it. However, the awareness levels differed significantly between countries.
- The highest awareness was in Indonesia, where 91% knew about the problem and how it negatively affects teens and children. In Indonesia, 53% knew of a child who was a target of cyberbullying.
- The awareness of cyberbullying in Australia, Poland, and Sweden was around 87%.
- In the United States, 82% knew about cyberbullying and that it sometimes caused teenage suicides.
- In Russia, awareness levels were only 35%, even though cyberbullying of LGBT teens and adults is exponentially increasing.
- Saudi Arabia, with it seriously oppressive regime, had the low cyberbullying awareness of 29%.
Frequency of Parents Reporting their Children Experienced Cyberbullying
The full Ipsos/Reuters report shows the following percentages of parents who have a child or teen that experienced cyberbullying. The survey of participants from 24 countries, noted that these figures came from the parents. Many parents are not aware their child experiences cyberbullying. Therefore, the percentages are low and in reality, the actual incidences of cyberbullying are much higher.
Here are the survey results of the parent’s reporting cyberbullying of their children:
- India – 32%
- Brazil – 20%
- Canada – 18%
- Saudi Arabia – 18%
- United States – 15%
- Indonesia – 14%
- Sweden – 14%
- Australia – 13%
- Poland – 12%
- Belgium – 12%
- China – 11%
- Great Britain – 11%
- South Africa – 10%
- Argentina – 9%
- Mexico – 8%
- South Korea – 8%
- Germany – 7%
- Japan – 7%
- Hungary – 7%
- Spain – 5%
- France – 5%
- Turkey – 5%
- Italy – 3%
Long-Term Impact of Bullying on Children Worse than Child Abuse
Two studies done about the effect of child abuse on children compared to the long-term effect of bullying found similar results for both UK children and American children. The negative long-term problems, especially mental health issues, were significantly greater for children bullied by other children, when compared to children who suffered child abuse from an adult.
The bullying of children by other children usually starts with name-calling then escalates into other forms of bullying, and sometimes includes cyberbullying. This increase of bullying, taking multiple forms, is what deteriorates the mental health of the children in their formative years. This causes lingering problems when they become adults.
Child abuse eventually stops because a child becomes an adult. Bullying may never stop, even when a person becomes an adult. This is not an attempt to diminish the seriousness of child abuse, but rather to point out the significant damage of bullying as well.
Both groups, of the children abused by an adult and those bullied by other children, when they grow up; they are more likely to become depressed, have mental health issues, and become suicidal. The studies found that bullying experiences had a greater negative effect later in life.
The study in the UK was the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children in England. The study considered health issues of 14,500 families in Bristol, England to discover trends that might help future generations. In the Avon study, there were 4,026 children. Of those children, 8% suffered from child abuse, 30% were victims of bullying, and 7% experienced child abuse and bullying.
One of the conclusions of the Avon study was that children who experienced bullying were 70% more likely to develop depression as an adult or engage in some form of self-harm, when compared to children that suffered only child abuse.
The American study was the Great Smoky Mountains Study in North Carolina. In that study, there were 1,073 children from the ages of 7 to 16. The researchers studied them for ten years. The study participants came from 11 counties in North Carolina and included 349 Native American Indian youth from the Cherokee Nation. Of the children in the study, 15% suffered from child abuse, 16% were victims of bullying, and 10% experienced child abuse and bullying.
The American study concluded that the risk of mental health problems as adults was four times greater for bullied children than those who suffered only child abuse.
When combining the results from both studies, it shows about 40% of children who suffered from child abuse from an adult, experienced bullying from other children as well. The researchers recommend that more efforts to combat bullying would benefit the public health in both the UK and the USA.
Bullying and Cyberbullying in Russia
Russia has a terrible reputation for its bullying and state-sponsored cyberbullying, especially as it relates to LGBT teens. An anti-gay law passed during 2003 in Russia that makes it now illegal to give teens any literature, whether in print, online, or using any media, which a contains a positive message and/or health information about safe sex for LGBT teens. Any public display, such as an advertisement promoting safe sex with a gay theme is now a crime. Public gay pride events are banned. LGBT organizations are under attack. Police do little to nothing about assaults reported by LGBT people.
Russian cyber criminals and fascists, in response to these anti-gay laws, began using websites and adult sex sites to lure gays and gay teens to somewhere on the premise of meeting for sex. When the teens arrived, expecting to meet another gay teen, they received vicious torture and beatings instead. Some interrogations of gay Russian teens are on YouTube (Warning: viewer discretion advised). Besides putting these videos on the Internet in a massive cyberbullying campaign, they send the video to families and employees of the victims.
The message from Vladimir Putin and his brutal country of Russia is that if you are gay, especially a gay teen, you are in danger of physical attack.
One of the First Known Russian Suicides from Cyberbullying
Vladimir Golubov, a twenty-year old man, killed himself when a former lover, a woman who was ten-years older, spread the false rumors on social networks in Russia that Vladimir was gay.
She did this when Vladimir broke off the relationship after she got pregnant. Vladimir knew the child was not his, even she claimed it was. The reason why Vladimir was certain is an operation he had as a child left him sterile and not able to make a baby with a woman.
This despicable woman, Anna Simonenko, went on Russia’s popular social media website, called Odnoklassniki (“classmates” in English). She used fake names and many accounts to spread rumors that Vladimir Golubo was homosexual. She sent messages to all his friends. He hung himself, even though he was heterosexual. Anna was sentenced to prison for one year and nine months for being the cause of Vladimir’s suicide.
Cyberbullying of LGBT people in Russia
The BBC reported that violence against gays in Russia and cyberbullying of those suspected of being gay is epidemic. Many are choosing to leave their home country because the cyberbullying and physical attacks make them live in fear for their lives.
In Russia, it is Putin’s idea to have a war on gays, which he uses online media to promote. Before the new wave of anti-gay sentiment, a majority of Russians were tolerant of gay people. Now, this percentage dropped to only 16% of the Russian people accept homosexuality as reported by Pew Research. Obviously, the homophobic propaganda is working in Russia. This makes Putin the biggest cyberbully in the world.
Russian State-Sponsored Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is not limited to attacks just on individuals; it also includes attacks on organizations. Organizations pay money when blackmailed by cyber criminals, in order to get important information back or to prevent private information from release.
Other organizations are targets of cyberbullying because of their political nature. An example of this would be the hacking of Hilary Clinton’s email server and the emails of the Democratic National Committee. The political ramifications are serious.
It could be said that Wikileaks engages in cyberbullying on a massive scale. The founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, recently went in front of the global media saying that Wikileaks will publish many things, obtained from the Russians, which make Hilary Clinton look bad. That is cyber bullying on an international level.
A report published by the U.S. Daily Review, quotes Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, as saying Russia’s cyber attacks and its state-sponsored cyberbullying is one of the greatest threats to America’s national security. The article says that cyberbullying Russia is a problem the west must face or suffer serious consequences.
Bullying in the Middle East
Places even worse than Russia are some of the countries in the Middle East, where being gay is enough to be flogged and/or stoned to death. The cyberbullying part is the publication on the Internet of the sometimes state-sponsored public floggings and executions, which terrorizes LGBT people in those countries who live in fear.
Cyberbullying in Japan
Makoto, a Japanese high school student, during 2007, became one of the first Japanese teens driven to attempt suicide from the impact of cyberbullying. He stopped going to school, became anorexic, and tried to kill himself twice. Luckily, his suicide attempts failed. Makoto’s story brought international attention to a problem that Japanese officials were reluctant to admit existed in Japan.
Not so lucky were the ones who came after Makoto, such as an 18-year old boy from Kobe who jumped off a building when his classmates posted a nude photo of him online and demanded blackmail money. Many more teens committed suicide over cyberbullying since then. Japanese law prevents the release of their names. Cases of cyberbullying are on the rise in Japan.
In Japan, a cell phone is a lifeline that everyone uses all the time. Cyberbullies in Japan use fake accounts to hide their identity and then constantly send vicious messages to their victims. This anonymity allows them to express such evil things, which they would never have the nerve to say to someone in person.
Turning off a cell phone is like completely disconnecting from all friends. When new messages come in, there is a compelling urge to read them and respond. In Japan, it is impolite to read a message and not respond. After reading an evil message, the psychological damage accumulates. Hundred of these messages have the ability to drive anyone to suicide, because the victim starts to believe they are true.
The Japanese Times reports a law against bullying of all kinds, including cyberbullying began in June 2013. This law came into being because of a junior high boy from Otsu, who committed suicide due to severe harassment. At first, both the city officials and the school administrators denied any bullying took place. An investigation showed otherwise, and the officials reversed their position causing an outrage.
In 2013, schools in Japan reported 8,787 cases of cyberbullying of the total 185,860 bullying cases. In Japan, cyberbullying can easily spiral out of control when others jump in to attack a weaker one. A strong group mindset encourages conformity with the rest of the group. This is the negative effect of psychological peer pressure in Japan.
Cyberbullying starts up on the popular social media chat room system called “Line” in Japan to get attention from other spectators on the chat. Spectators jump in to add to the attack when the momentum sweeps them up. Everyone feels participatory when attacking a weaker one as a group.
These are just a few examples of the extent of cyberbullying around the globe. In many places, the problem is increasing in severity, because online connections and using simple devices such as smart phones are becoming more available. The equipment now costs less, the services are easier to find in most parts of the world, and the popularity of being on social media with friends is compelling for most young people.
The dangers of cyberbullying are real. When cyberbullying is extreme, it becomes strongly influential in some youth suicides.
What to Do About Cyberbullying
First, gain more awareness about cyberbullying from the information and resources found on websites like nobullying.com to understand how to avoid it. If you are a participant in cyberbullying, STOP! If you are being cyberbullied as a teen or child, or you know someone who is, speak up to any responsible adult, who could be a parent, a teacher, a coach, a preacher, a school counselor, or a community supporter.
If you are an adult, experiencing work-related cyberbullying, talk to a work supervisor. If the cyberbullying comes from a stranger/stalker type online, contact law enforcement.
There is no need to suffer from cyberbullying attacks. The way to stop cyberbullying is to tell someone you trust about what is going on and seek help for the problem. You do not have to fight this problem alone.