In light of my last post, I attempted to do some research into the statistics of cyber-bullying and found this CNN article. While the report didn’t present anything I hadn’t previously seen on the news, the numbers were still a bit shocking.
As many as 25% of teenagers have been victims of online bullying, 10% experiencing cyber-abuse within the past 30 days. Although those numbers may not sound especially staggering to most, as someone who feels like high school was just the other day, it’s truly surprising.
Maybe it’s because I went to a conservative high school, or maybe it’s just because I was raised to pick good friends, but the idea that 1 in 4 of my peers was bullied in any form seems more than a bit off to me.
Middle and high school are a rough time for everyone. Puberty sucks, homework sucks, rules suck, just about every part of it sucks. But the idea that to deal with all the suck you take it out on someone else? That was just never something that crossed my mind.
I guess I was lucky that, in my high school, being nice was seen as cool. I guess maybe that’s why I’ve never understood movies like Carrie, where the pretty girls band together to target a misfit.
But I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. It seems like every other week you flip on the news to see another teen that’s taken their life due to online bullying, like the especially harsh Steubenville Rape Case. Just reading about these things makes me sick, but most of all confused as to how and why it keeps happening.
The biggest question arising from all this mess: How do we fix it? What should schools and parents and social networks themselves being doing to prevent events like this from happening? Thomas Holt, professor at Michigan State summed up the problem saying,
“How do we extend or find a way to develop policies that have a true impact on the way that kids are communicating with one another, given that you could be bullied at home, from 4 p.m. until the next morning, what kind of impact is that going to have on the child in terms of their development and mental health?”
Luckily, it seems that many schools and even the government are making changes to prevent this sort of abuse. Organizations like We Stop Hate and It Gets Better (along with many others) serve as resources for students facing bullying.
While it appears that the right steps are being taken to eradicated cyber-bullying, it will undoubtedly still be a long and bumpy road.