The Washington Post reported the results of a recent survey by the National Institutes of Health of more than 7,000 American schoolchildren, finding cyber-bullying is linked to a spike in depression among the victims. The issue made headlines after Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old Massachusetts student, hanged herself after being verbally assaulted followed by an onslaught of online messages to her Facebook profile and cellular phone.
The results of the newest study has not surprised some educators. Heather Applegate, supervisor of diagnostic and prevention services in Loudoun County public schools, said, “With cyber-bullying, you can’t get away from it. In order to get away, you have to stop using social networking or stop using your cell phone.” The study also found that cyber-bullying is most prevalent in middle school (grades 6–8) and that boys are more likely to cyber-bully, while girls would more likely be victimized. The lead author of the study, Jing Wang, also reported low academic achievement levels for those involved in cyber-bullying in addition to the psychological and developmental problems teens experienced. Wang also said that previous research indicates an association between parental involvement and less bullying in all forms.
Do the results of the study surprise you? Have you seen cases of bullying in your student ministry?