NIH Study: Cyber-bullying victims most depressed (Sympatico.ca)
Cyber-bullying may be even tougher for kids to handle than
"traditional" bullying involving beatings, name-calling or social
shunning, researchers have found.
Researchers with the U.S. National Institutes of Health's Institute of
Child Health and Human Development have found that kids who are the
targets of cyber-bullying at school are at greater risk for depression
than are the youth who bully them – a contrast to findings on
Past studies on traditional bullying show that "bully-victims" — those
people who both bully others and are bullied themselves — are more
likely to report feelings of depression than any other bullying group.
But cyber-bullies appear to be less depressed than their victims.
Cyber bullying involves written attacks or aggressive behaviors by
email or posted on websites. The researchers think that the lack of
face-to-face contact makes the dynamic of cyber-bullying different
from traditional bulling.
In cyber attacks, victims usually don't see or their harasser and may
not even be able to identify them. That can make cyber-bullies feel
vulnerable to repercussions.
Their victims, meanwhile, may be "more likely to feel isolated,
dehumanized or helpless at the time of the attack," the study authors
wrote in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
Jing Wang, Tonja Nansel and Ronald Iannotti reached their findings
after analyzing data from a 2005/2006 survey that included 4,500
students from Grade 6 to Grade 10.
Students were asked about recent feelings of sadness, grouchiness,
inability to concentrate, and sleep disturbances. They were also asked
whether they were involved with bullying, whether as perpetrators or
The researchers classified bullying others or being bullied "two or
three times a month" as frequent, and "only once or twice" as
occasional. Respondents were further classified as either: bullies,
victims, or bully-victims.
For physical bullying, no differences were found in depression scores
among bullies, victims, or bully-victims.
For verbal and relational bullying, victims and bully-victims reported
higher levels of depression than bullies.
For cyber bullying, frequent victims reported significantly higher
levels of depression than frequent bullies and marginally higher
depression than frequent bully-victims.
Dr. Iannotti, the study's senior author, notes that bullying
interferes with scholastic achievement, development of social skills,
and general feelings of well being.
In a study published last year, Dr. Iannotti's team reported that the
prevalence of bullying among U.S. youth was about 21 per cent. Of
those who had been bullied at least once in the last two months, 53.6
percent had been bullied verbally, 51.4 percent bullied socially
(excluded or ostracized), and 13.6 per cent were cyber-bullied.