Cyberbullying: How it affects children
Story by Veronica Grizzle, NewsNetNebraska
Cyber bullying statistics from education.com say that 58 percent of children reported that someone has said something mean or hurtful to them online. Of those surveyed, one in four have had it happen more than once.
According to a recent study by the Committee for Children, cyber bullying is a problem that impacts many children as they embrace online communication and interaction.
While bullying historically has occurred within or in close proximity to the school, experts on the topic say advances in communication technologies have allowed would-be bullies to extend their reach. In this now 24 hour cycle, adolescents and anyone for that matter may be subjected to bullying in the comfort of their own homes.
UNL professor specializes in bullying research
For many children, electronic communication tools on the internet, such as chat rooms and social networking sites, are critical tools for their social life. Susan Swearer is a University of Nebraska professor of educational psychology whose research on bullying has yielded collaborations with the White House and Lady Gaga. Swearer described bullying as a national mental health crisis without an easy solution.
“The threat of school expulsion or suspension doesn’t seem to deter bad behavior, yet educators and parents are at a loss for better alternatives,” said Swearer.
In her research, Swearer said developing prevention and intervention approaches is a key goal, but those will be most successful if youth reinforce anti-bullying messages with their peers.
It is shown that victims of bullying are more depressed and anxious than their peers who are not bullied. This links bullying to extreme mental health problems. In her research, Swearer lays out how bullying is related to school shootings.
“Bullying was a factor in two-thirds of the 37 school shootings reviewed by the U.S. Secret Service,” said Swearer.
Characteristics of Online Targets
The age of people bullying and being bullied has not changed much with technology. According to research done by the Committee for Children, 70 percent of online targets are 14 years and older. Those who do the bullying tend to come from broken homes, or have experienced some sort of adversity in their life.
It has become easier for adolescents to pick up their phone, or switch on their computer to relieve some of their anger, stress or frustration on their peers. Research done by the Committee for Children states children who bully online tend to be older than those who bully in person. They also say that traditional bullying peaks in middle school and drops off during the high school years, but does not necessarily stop there.
How bullying is handled in the Lincoln Schools
Lincoln Public Schools Director of Student Services Russ Uhing said he deals with bullying only after a school has failed to resolve the situation.
“I will get a call periodically from a parent concerned that they have worked with a school and are not satisfied with how things are going,” said Uhing.
Uhing said each school and administrator is trained and given tools to help them deal with bullying when they see it happening at school.
In school, Uhing said teachers and administers have three criteria they look for when trying to isolate bullying.
- One is mean and aggressive behavior from a certain student. When this is flagged, teachers are urged to monitor that child and find out further information.
- Next, teachers and administrators look for an imbalance of power between students. If bullying is not happening on school grounds, but teachers notice different behavior at school coming from either the bully or the victim, they can ask questions to make sure everything is okay.
- Lastly, they also look to see if it is repetitive. If the same child is acting out or different over time, these may be signs that bullying is taking place.
What makes it harder for school administrators to monitor is the online and after school bullying that is out of the school’s control. Uhing said there is not much they can do to prevent it from happening.
“If something is happening outside of school, as far as consequences, we are pretty limited in what we can do,” said Uhing.
If schools are aware of what is taking place outside of the classroom, teachers will work with both students on a solution.