As the number of children and teens with internet access continues to increase, cyber bullying has become a dangerous epidemic. Bullies have moved from the playground to the web, where cruel remarks, humiliating photographs, and other malicious acts have a much larger reach. These actions often lead to self-harming behavior, psychological damage, and even death. The teen suicide rate has skyrocketed in recent years due to this vicious form of abuse.
How Big is the Cyber Bullying Epidemic?
Studies conducted by the Cyberbullying Research Center over the last decade reveal that this online abuse has reached middle and high school students in epic proportions across the United States. The organization surveyed approximately 15,000 students in 98 different schools throughout America, and 12 studies were conducted. On average, about 28 percent of students admitted that they had been the victim of cyber bullying at some point in their lives. In 2016, that number rose to 33.6 percent.
Of the 4,503 students who were surveyed in 2016, approximately 17.2 percent said they had been bullied within the last 30 days. Disturbingly, 12 percent admitted to cyber bullying at least once over their lifetime, and 6.4 percent said they had bullied within the past 30 days.
Who Is At Risk for Cyber Bullying?
While anyone can become a victim of cyber bullying, some individuals are at a higher risk than others.
- Girls are more likely to be victims of cyber bullying than boys. In fact, 41 percent of girls report having been bullied, compared with 28 percent of boys.
- Social media users are often victims of cyber bullying. An astounding 84.2 percent of victims reported being bullied on Facebook, 23.4 percent on Instagram, 21.4 percent on Twitter, and 13.5 percent on Snap Chat. Only 11.2 percent said they had been bullied through instant messaging.
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender teens are at a significantly higher risk of being bullied. According to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children (AmericanSPCC), 55.2 percent of LGBT teens report having been cyber bullied.
What Can Victims Do?
Cyber bullying is a crime in Minnesota. Offenders can be punished under school policies and could face significant monetary fines or imprisonment if convicted. Personal injury lawsuits can also be brought against the offender to help compensate victims for damages like emotional trauma, medical expenses, social harm, financial losses and even wrongful death.