There is no doubt that the poisonous and nasty slurs hurled through the cafeteria or in the halls of the school hurt. A new investigation published in the Journal of Adolescent Health notes that for victims of cyberbullying (insults that occur online or via text message), this injury may be more pronounced.
“Unlike traditional bullying which typically involves face-to-face confrontation, cyber victims may not see or identify their stalker,” according to the survey. “As such, cyber victims may be more likely to feel isolated, dehumanized or powerless at the time of the attack.”
A group of 7,508 teens in grades 6-10 completed a health survey showing 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 both by the victim and the stalker.
With traditional bullying, both the bully and the victim report feeling depressed. But when it comes to Internet harassment, it is the victim who is most likely to report depression. The instigator tends to come out unscathed.
It would seem that any insult (virtual or face-to-face) stings, but the viral nature of the internet can be what makes cyberbullying worse for victims.
“The fact that the audience may be quite large is a matter of concern,” said Ronald Iannotti, principal investigator of the survey and researcher at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver. National Institute of Child and Human Health. “With Facebook, YouTube and everything in between, the victim may not even know who else has seen or heard the bullying, and because it’s not face to face, [he or she] can’t retaliate that easily. “
“Being bullied on the Internet is worse,” said a 14-year-old from New Jersey who posted on a website Cyberbullying Research Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to researching the effects of cyberbullying. “It’s torment and it hurts. They say that “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This quote is a lie and I do not believe it. “
Another victim of cyberbullying, a 14-year-old from New York City, said: “It makes me feel bad and rather depressed. Like I don’t want to be a part of this world anymore.”
“Behind a keypad or their phone keypad, and physically away from the victim, emboldened [cyber bullies] and frees them from normal constraints on their behavior such as conscience, morals, social norms and the law, “said Sameer Hinduja, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center.” In addition, no authority monitors these communications in cyberspace. “
Previous studies show that having supportive parents is associated with lower levels of bullying and victimization, added Iannotti. So the key to relieving depression for all forms of bullying – cyber and otherwise – may lie in the home.