Researchers have recently been taking on the task of figuring out the effect that cyber-bullying has on the victims. Research shows that cyber-bullying actually is the hardest for victims. Even though bullies are thought to also suffer from mental health issues, scientists found that in terms of online or phone bullying, the victim suffers a great deal.
Scientists are so distraught with their findings that they are now considering cyber-bullying to be toxic. They were surprised as to the level of depression the victims experienced from being tormented or harassed online or over the phone. According to the lead author for the study, Jing Wang, the level of depression was actually unexpected. Researchers did not think that this type of bullying would have that much of an effect on the victims.
Medical director of the Clinic for Health Problems Related to Bullying at the Children’s Medical Center, Jorge Srabstein, stated that the study really points out how damaging and toxic making fun of other people online or even through texting on our cell phones can be.
The result of the research showed that in comparison to being harassed face-to-face in terms of middle school aged children, cyber-bullying leads to even greater depression for its victims and therefore puts these victims at a greater risk for suicide.
Srabstein points out that the difference between the damage each type of bullying produces by explaining that when someone insults you by writing something on the bathroom wall for instance, that insult is confined there, but in cyberspace, the resonance of abuse and insult is so much wider and can literally reach people all over the world.
People have a tendency to be much more isolated when they are bullied by means of the computer or phone. The audience is so much larger and the effects can be devastating to the victim who wonders how many people have seen the message or photo, etc that made fun of them. Cyber-bullies have so much power over the victim because they can so easily make fun of someone, they can even make up photographs and post them onto Facebook for everyone that the victim knows or goes to school with to see.
Researchers concluded that the effects are the same for both boys and girls, and that the problems generally are highest at middle-school age. Research is continuing to determine if kids that are depressed have pre-existing low self-confidence, which makes them easier targets for bullies, or is it the bullying itself that leads to all of the feelings of depression and a lack of self-worth.
A 2005 survey titled, The Health Behavior in School-Aged Children was able to show that more than 50% of all students in some way were linked to cyber-bullying, whether they were the bullies or victims of such things as name calling or simply isolating their peers by other means. One fifth of students had been involved in physical bullying by either hitting someone else or being hit by someone else and 14% of these kids were involved with cyber-bullying as well.
One of the biggest problems about bullying is that the victims are so terrified to speak out and tell adults what is going on. Unfortunately, speaking up about being a victim will label these children as a snitch and will make it appear as though they are trying to start more trouble by getting the bully in trouble. Instead of typical punishment for bullies, they should be forced to see a counselor who can explain to them about the damage and hurt that they have caused to the victim and help the bully understand that it is imperative that they put an end to the mistreatment of others.
Bullying and cyber-bullying in particular is such a major issue nowadays that some states, such as Missouri are putting forth laws that help protect victims from being bullied which leads to their depression. Bullying policies are being added to already existing laws by simply adding in the terms cyber-bullying or electronics.
Blanchard, K. Cyber Bullying Hardest on Victims