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September 21st, 2010
08:48 AM ET

Cyber bully victims 'isolated, dehumanized'

There is no question that venomous, nasty insults hurled across the cafeteria or in school hallways hurt. A new survey published in the Journal of Adolescent Health finds that for victims of cyber bullying (insults that occur online or via text), that hurt may be more pronounced.

"Unlike traditional bullying which usually involves a face-to-face confrontation, cyber victims may not see or identify their harasser," according to the survey. "As such, cyber victims may be more likely to feel isolated, dehumanized or helpless at the time of the attack."
 
A group of 7,508 adolescents in 6th through 10th grade filled out a health survey including how (face-to-face or online) and how often they had been bullied. The survey measured the type of bullying - physical, verbal, relational (exclusionary behavior) or cyber - and the level of depression reported by both the victim and the bully.

With traditional bullying, both bully and victim report feeling depressed. But when it comes to cyber bullying, it is the victim who is more likely to report depression. The instigator tends to emerge unscathed.

It would seem like any insult (virtual or face-to-face) would sting, but the viral nature of the internet may be what makes cyber bullying feel worse for victims.

"The fact that the audience can be quite broad is a concern," said Ronald Iannotti, the principal investigator of the survey and a staff scientist at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Health. "With Facebook, YouTube and everything else, the victim may not even be sure who else has seen or heard the bullying, and because it is not face-to-face, [he or she] can't retaliate as easily."

"Being bullied over the internet is worse," said one 14-year-old from New Jersey who posted on a website for the Cyberbullying Research Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to researching the effects of cyber bullying. "It's torment and hurts. They say 'sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.' That quote is a lie and I don't believe in it."

Another cyber bullying victim, a 14-year-old from New York, said "It makes me feel bad and rather depressed. Like I don't want to be a part of this world any more."

"Behind a keyboard or the textpad of their phone, and physically distant from the victim, emboldens [cyber bullies] and frees them from normal constraints on their behavior such as their conscience, morals, social norms, and the law," said Sameer Hinduja, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center.  "Plus, there are no authorities monitoring these communications in cyberspace."

Previous studies find that having supportive parents is associated with lower levels of bullying and victimization, Iannotti added. So the key to alleviating depression for all forms of bullying - cyber and otherwise - may reside in the home.


soundoff (265 Responses)
  1. Critic

    Well, boo hoo hoo. Maybe if parents out there weren't treating their kids like Special Snowflakes who think the world owes them everything, this wouldn't be happening. Frankly, these kids need a good slap in the face and a welcome to the real world. If they can't cope with it, tough.

    September 22, 2010 at 06:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Danielle

      You sound very ignorant saying things like that, my assumption is that you were a bully and you don't how cyber bullying impacts lives. The effect that cyber bullying has is so devastating that some teenagers took their own lives. Maybe you should do more research on the topic before you post comments like that!

      March 29, 2011 at 16:56 | Report abuse |
    • The Critic's critic

      Sure, I agree with you that the issue is centered around the parents, but only to a degree. As I'm sure you know, cyber bullying doesn't only occur in high school or middle school, but it is also an issue that stretches all the way to adulthood. It affects students in college, fellow employees, teachers and a lot more.
      Where I got disgusted with your comment is where you said "these kids need a good slap in the face and a welcome to the real world. If they can't cope with it, tough." For you to blame the kid victims for this happening is absolutely absurd, and completely insensitive. Maybe the way you were raised was to be slapped in the face by your parents, or pushed around, but the REAL WORLD would call that child abuse, therefore your argument is void.
      I give you a 0/10 for your amazing insight to the wonderful parental style of child abuse and neglect.

      October 18, 2012 at 13:19 | Report abuse |
  2. Mike Bogdanski

    I was bullied and beat up as a teen. Being harassed over the internet is just as bad withe the emotional stress that is caused in the cyber community. Targets need to share this information with adults so they can get support. Even at the risk they may lose computer privileges. Deep depression and suicide are real as side effects of this type of bullying.
    Mike
    America's ANTI Bully
    http://www.mikebogdanski.com

    September 22, 2010 at 07:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brian Paone

      @Mike – Dude, it's just words on a screen. Everybody took a few lumps as a teenager. Let it go.

      September 22, 2010 at 08:43 | Report abuse |
  3. Cyberbullying

    hi
    Like teachers to bullied kids than why bullying student.
    CyberBullying

    September 22, 2010 at 08:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. MB

    Thanks for the investigators to share this information. As a mother of two kids in high school, the role of the family is the current cyber world is very critical. I hope that this type of interaction doesn't become a habit among kids. I think we all need to value and respect every human being including ourself.

    September 22, 2010 at 08:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Lurker

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    September 22, 2010 at 09:55 | Report abuse | Reply
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      -▲
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      September 22, 2010 at 09:57 | Report abuse |
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  6. Judge Tom Jacobs

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    September 22, 2010 at 19:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. jai

    ive seen alot of picking on in high school there was on incident that a guy who no one really liked becuse he was "annoying" was being picked on by a guy much bigger than he and the bigger guy and a few other guys dragged him into the boys restroom and duncked his head into the toilet and proceeded to punch and knee him in the gut.. well myself and a few other freinds who wittnessed what was going on told a teacher who happed to be walking by so the teacher goes to check out what was going on in the bathroom and just came back out with a big smile and said "i didnt see anything at all" i never thought a teacher wud do such a thing especially wen i could hear the student still yelling and screaming to let him go.. and to this day i still see mean things posted on his myspace and bullying has really becom a problem when a teacher seems to get a kick out of somthing like that.. i my self have also experienced a fair amout of humilliation and had come to the point where my english teacher reported to the school and got me help.. we need more teachers like the one who helped me and less of thoes like the one who thinks its funny to pickon sum one just because hes annoying.. teachers and paretns shoud keep an eye out for bullies parents learn when to recognize that ur child is beeing bullied or is a bully them selvs.. parents need to talk and wach their kids so that it doesnt get to the point of suicide attempts. we have kids as young as 9 years old hanging themselvs because they feel alone and helpless we need a change now!!!!

    September 22, 2010 at 20:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. ZenAngel

    To Mr. Wolf, who claims kids don't make fun of people with disabilities:
    My kid has a disability, and kids have made fun of her countless times. Sometimes, with their parents' help.

    You may think "kids don't do that," but I assure you they do. Talk to any parent of a special-needs kid, and you'll learn all about it.

    September 25, 2010 at 15:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Alice

    Seriously? I've been bullied in person and online, and you don't see me crying about it. Why? Because I know better than to give in to the taunts and jeers of insecure, immature people. Suck it up and get over it. Or grow a pair and do something about it.

    September 27, 2010 at 12:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • you r mean

      do u enjoy the sense of joy that comes out of putting this victims to the ground..... way to make fun of ppl who are deceased.... who have killed themeseves due to the evil act of cyberbullying

      January 27, 2012 at 09:06 | Report abuse |
  10. Jada

    I totally agree with you Alice! For the people who it doesnt bother knowq who they are the people who cry about it just have low self asteem.

    September 30, 2010 at 12:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Lily

    I'm not going to tell those that were bullied in real life or online to "get over it" because I'm not as insensitive as some of you. But I will say this. Sometimes you have to decide to love yourself more and not invest time in bullies:
    I have a facial deformity that can't be hidden or improved - think I'll ever be treated fairly in life? I had to learn to deal with cruelty at an early age. People post nasty things online about me even now, other young adults point at me and laugh or ask me why one side of my face is purple (these are college aged people mind you lol). That's okay. I'm still breathing and I'm successful so they obviously didn't win.

    Randomly, my biggest bully from high school is in prison for the rest of her life for killing her child. Guess she never could learn to value human life. Karma does catch up.

    October 1, 2010 at 07:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. sylvia

    Well its still hard. who wants that? I was recently sent home from a job that I had worked faithfully on..everyday. bullies are not just in school they are on the 9 to 5. its so sad. I didn't deserve it at all. people there had laughed and made fun of me in as much as I had to go to the hospital for stress. I don't think its low esteem. If you are putting in a pressure cooking everday something will blow. The bullies couldn't take it and I know it!

    October 2, 2010 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. lol

    to every person who posted about growing a pair or ignoring it............ what if i found out who all of you were i emailed the school your children go to and tell them your abusing them tell your neighbors that your a child
    molester and emailed your boss that you are screwing around with his wife....all this througb anonymos emails ur telling me this wouldnt affect your life.......thats a bunch of bull if it happend to you it would not be able to just be ignored

    October 3, 2010 at 02:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Ann

    Children and teenagers frequently emulate the adults around them. Do parents behave in their communities as they wish their children would at school?
    As an adult, how many times have you leaned eagerly towards someone when they start with –"they say she...", "they say he..."- the passing on of hurtful gossip and lies, smears. In- person bullying and mobbing, as well as cyberbullying, happens in schools, universites, workplaces, and communities. The last instance is known as gang or organized stalking in some of its forms. As a 55 y.o.victim of a large organized stalking campaign, I ask you to stop and consider that lies and hurt are spread in many ways, by people who know how to do it. For example, have you ever been prompted or asked to "keep an eye" on someone, as part of a neighborhood watch (or similar group)? Realize that you may be used as a part of a larger agenda to destroy an innocent person's life.

    October 3, 2010 at 15:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. maggie

    As a former cyberbully, I totally get that the physical distance and anonymity offered by the internet and cell phones makes being awful to someone so much easier. I learned, however, that it's pretty lame to hide behind your keyboard when you rail on someone. I also learned, however, to stand up for myself and speak my mind in real life face-to-face interactions because it didn't take long for me to figure out that if I was going to say awful, mean, hurtful things to my peers, it stuck more if I could back it up in real life. I'm not proud of who I was as a Digital Native in adolescence, but I genuinely think I'm a better person for it.

    October 3, 2010 at 23:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Christina

    Parents of the bullies (those underage) should be held accountable for their children's actions. We need to develope a system to track these bullies and hold them and their parents responsible. New laws should be written for to punish these criminals and their parents!

    October 4, 2010 at 19:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Emo

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    October 9, 2010 at 20:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. bo

    so what are these victims supposed to do. tell someone but do they not normaly

    October 26, 2010 at 08:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. AshleeTaylor

    I have been cyber bullied before, over facebook actually. It got so bad, to the point where some of her (the cyber bully) family members came up and harassed me and my friends. We are only 8th graders and these girls are like seniors. I didn't even know this girl!! But she somehow made my life miserable. Probably because she was "bored" One day, i confronted that girl and her mom at her house and she TOTALLY backed off because she was afraid(: cuzz now I got the power! All i did was hold my head high and ignore and enjoy life. If you ever get bullied you should do the same! ♥♥

    November 5, 2010 at 12:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Saki

      Hi Ariana,We both understand first hand what you are going tgruohh because we were both bullied at about the same age.It may help to understand that the past is over, and gratefully so, the bullying has stopped too. If you are running the memories tgruohh your mind every night and crying about it every night, you are allowing yourself to re-live the past. This continues to give the bullies the power over you. What had happened is over. Now it's time to take your power back by focusing on how special and unique you are.Also, please understand that no matter how painful the bullying was, it was never really about you (even though it seems to be). When someone bullies you, it is because they are unhappy with themselves and they take it out on someone else. They most likely saw something special in you that they were envious of!We hope this helps a bit. ~Chris and Jon

      September 13, 2012 at 23:52 | Report abuse |
  20. Ang

    Bullies and trolls are a HUGE problem. These kids (and adults) go through a lot of trouble to hurt, humiliate, isolate, and belittle people. It's tough for an adult so imagine how difficult this is for kids. These bullies will create a whole social media presence pretending to be a victim and befriend all the same people as the one they are attacking. Then the trouble begins. One kid did this to my nephew. They were once friends. He then reeked havoc by pretending to be my nephew and saying mean things to very large kids to instigate trouble and that is not all. So these kids befriend other kids with the intention of bullying. Kids and adults that do this have narcissistic personality disorder and can also be sadists or sociopaths. These are the same kids that grow up to abuse people verbally, sexually, or physically and even murder. While everyone has their heads in the sand, they do not realize the nature of these people until they've experienced one. These narcissists MUST have a source, a supply so they usually abuse many people or children. While terrorizing one person, they are already spending large amounts of time setting up the next victim. It usually starts with befriending them and some strive for trust before the bullying begins. It's actually really disturbing. As a society, we have to show that this behavior is unacceptable. Parents also have to show their kids how to not ACT like victims even if they are victimized but not all kids inform the parents and isolate themselves. I was actually bullied at a job before by a woman who was trying to get rid of me. After realizing what she had already done to ruin the image I built for myself while making herself look great, she then started to terrorize me privately. Although the damage was already done, I refused to play victim. I retaliated privately right back to her using fear tactics. This had to be done or she would have continued to bully me even after I left the job. She lied about people to get them fired and this gave her a sense of power and control. Some narcissists grow up to be fairly quiet about what they do and choose jobs of power such as managers, executives, politicians and other govt officials, as well as religious leaders, so don't think the bullying stops when they grow up. Hitler was a great example of someone with narcissistic personality disorder and hid what he was doing using political correctness. Learn their techniques, learn how to recognize the signs, and prepare yourself, because you WILL deal with one in your life if you haven't already. Good luck and do all you can to prepare your children. It's unfortunate we have to do this, but we do.

    November 10, 2010 at 03:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Alex

    I agree that victims are just further targets for bullying. this happens because i think the bullies sense the already weakened state of the individual. i feel that as the tormenting becomes more the pain and thoughts of death become more and more as well. this isn’t something that i want to think about because i have had a friend commit suicide because of bullying. i want to spread the word however that bullying has to be stopped. steps have to be taken

    December 1, 2010 at 12:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Emmali

    Honestly, The "cyber police" are not going to do anything, the real "Police" are not going to do anything. If you or your child is being bullied I can only give you two tidbits of advice:

    1) If you get hate messages, either delete them, ignore them, or better yet disconnect from the social network sites for a while. Go see a movie, play with the dog, play scrabble or yahtzee or something. If you're letting Facebook dictate your life, then you've got psycho problems. No, I'm serious. Like a compulsive gambler or an addict, you may need help.

    2) About people that I don't know hating me, screw them. Post a message saying it wasn't you saying the racist thing and ignore them if they persist. Unless you're running for political office, who cares what others think.

    March 2, 2011 at 00:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Justina

    Read the Bible, both Old Testament and New Testament. It enables you to refrain from getting into doing stupid things and fight back realistically any kind of bullies or villains.

    March 2, 2011 at 00:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Russian Judge

      Oh, please. There's more violence in the Bible than there is in movies or on TV!

      July 12, 2014 at 17:45 | Report abuse |
  24. Justina

    I was bullied and told horrible things at grade schools. I was hurt of course, but I concluded as a kid that if the Creator God doesn't say so, I should not care any garbage other humans say to me. Having some good friends and keeping oneself busy to excel also helps. But if one has a bad family, the kid needs professional help, of course.

    March 2, 2011 at 01:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Allie

    Yo "Critic," HELLO!!!!! DO YOU NOT HAVE A HEART IN YOUR COLD BODY OR IS IT AN EMPTY CAVITY? I BET YOU WERE TEASED IN SCHOOL FOR ONE THING OR ANOTHER. WHAT YOU JUST SAID MIGHT AS WELL BE BULLYING IN THE WORKS. SOME KIDS ARE MORE SENSITIVE THAN OTHERS OR ARE BULLIED TO THE POINT OF BREAKING. SO TAKE YOUR SNIDE COMMENTS AND PUT THEM ELSEWHERE. WE ARE AGAINST BULLYING NOT PARTICIPATING IN IT. EDUCATE YOURSELF AND GROW A HEART.

    March 9, 2011 at 09:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. harassed senior

    @brian paone its not just words on a screen! it hurts so much, right now i am a high school senior and my "friends" torture me through texts and they don't realize how much it hurts. it is way more than words it makes me cry at night and fear that my friends are turning everyone against me. it hurts more than you can imagine.

    June 4, 2011 at 01:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Chris

    In the workshops I conduct as a Certified Child & Internet Safety Advocate, I urge parents to be engaged in their children's lives, and to bring technology to their aid. While there are number of products out there I am partial to one in particular.

    You can learn more about the workshops and technology tools at http://www.Kid411.info

    July 23, 2011 at 17:39 | Report abuse | Reply
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    August 27, 2011 at 21:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Alexis Amezquita

    This is a great article. People can say to ignore the hurtful words all they want, but many cyberbullies make that near impossible for their victims. This is something that is affecting more people than we may realize. Microsoft just reported that 27 percent of people in five countries have been exposed to cyberbullying in the last 12 months. As role models for these children we should be helping them take action against their attackers.

    September 8, 2011 at 13:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Dasvidania

    The problem with cyber bullies is they themselves think they’re the victims. This blog is such an amazing example of that. Look at how vile this bully is. Pretending to be a victim yet takes every chance to take people down.

    http://dontticklethedragon.wordpress.com/

    December 7, 2011 at 18:57 | Report abuse | Reply
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  32. Attila

    RebekahWell, your video has been removed, but I can iignmae what it was like. This topic always gets to me because my brother was bullied. And, sure enough, when he stood up for himself, he got in trouble, too. I don't think he ever really resorted to violence but the two boys got into enough of a fight that they were both in trouble. He was bullied continuously by the same boy and even though the school knew about it, nothing they did actually changed anything. Perhaps the bullying changed forms (physical to verbal) but it continued. At one point my dad actually went directly to the parents of the other boy and told them if it didn't stop he would press charges. I feel my brother had every right to defend himself if he were getting physically bullied. In fact, my dad even taught him basic ways of doing so in case anything happened. Unfortunately, teachers and schools often have little recourse to effectively discipline the bullies. My brother and the bully, for example, had to write a letter explaining how they felt and what happened. I'm not quite sure how that teaches the bully that the behaviour is unacceptable or the bullied child that the school is on their side to defend and protect them. I'm not sure what can be done to stop bullies but I'm pretty certain that what is done now is not usually effective. A slap on the wrist and a go play nice doesn't work once the kids are back on the playground.

    April 9, 2012 at 04:00 | Report abuse | Reply
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  39. Somebody

    Why are there grown up saying "These kids need to grow a pair."? You're GROWN UPS. Try to put yourself into a kids shoes and see how it feels. The thing about kids, is that they're still growing and aren't really able to attach to certain things as easily and you expect them to. Especially in the teenage years. In the teenage years is when the kid starts to develop understanding, but this also makes them more emmotional and makes it harder for the to understand. So now here comes a kid or a grown up online calling them names and telling them to strip or else and they're helpless.
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  40. Skyline CMPP

    The Washtenaw Area Council for Children works to prevent cyber bullying amongst teens. The WACC is able to educate parents and youth in the Washtenaw area about issues such as cyber bullying, sexting, and safe baby. The cyber safety program works by educating youths, and their parents about the dangers that may be lurking online. Protecting children online is a very serious issue and the WACC is working very hard in the prevention, and treatment of victims.

    March 6, 2014 at 14:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Skyline CMPP

    Over 80% of teens use their cell phones which are social breeding grounds for cyber bullying. Social media outlets like twitter and facebook are notorious for being habitats for such predators. A vast majority of teens do not realize they practice cyber bullying. The monitor serves as a facade of the emotional vulgar nature of their language and the tremendous pain it may cause an individual. The Washtenaw Area Council for Children have created a program in order to combat the new form of social castigation that is known as cyber bullying. The specific program they use is called Cyber Safety.

    March 7, 2014 at 12:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Communications, Media, and Public Policy Magnet Skyline

    With threats in school, at home, and through the internet, it is a more dangerous world than ever for children. Maltreatment, abuse, and bullying happen to children in Washtenaw County every day. That is why the Washtenaw Area Council for Children has been working tirelessly since 1975 to protect Washtenaw County's children. To learn more about them and show your support, visit their website at http://www.washtenawchildren.org/.

    March 7, 2014 at 13:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Skyline CMPP

    The Washtenaw Area Council for Children serves to protect youth from child abuse. Cyber bullying accounts for a large portion of child abuse, which is why the WACC created the cyber safety, safe sleep, and body safety training programs. Because only 1 in 10 victims of cyber bullying tell an adult, the WACC heavily focuses on the steps teens need to take in order to receive help. In knowing the proper steps, teens will have a support system for their victimization. All in all the culmination of WACC’s tireless work has provided programs and knowledge relating to cyber bullying for the prosperity of children, and has prevented the abuse that comes to them.

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