Both girls were victims of endless cyberbullying and committed suicide as a result.
Audrie Pott and Rehtaeh Parsons’ stories are tragic, but what’s even more tragic is the fact that these two young girls are not alone. In fact, a new study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) found that 16 percent of high school students in the United States are targets of cyberbullying.
The study also found that:
- One in six high school students (16.2 percent) reported being electronically bullied within the past 12 months.
- Girls were more than twice as likely to report being a victim of cyberbullying than boys (22.1 percent vs. 10.8 percent).
- White teens reported being the victim of cyberbullying more than twice as frequently as black teens.
- One-third of high school students played video games or used their computers for other than school work at least three hours a day.
“Although teenagers generally embrace being connected to the Web and each other 24/7, we must recognize that these new technologies carry with them the potential to traumatize youth in new and different ways,” said Andrew Adesman, MD, study author.
And these days you don’t even need a computer to get on the web. Many teenagers have access to the internet on their cellphones and can be connected to sites like Facebook and Twitter all day long.
So what can we do to combat the problem of cyberbullying?
At the same PAS meeting, another study was released which found that participating in team sports could deter bullying or violent behaviors in teenagers, particularly in girls. The study found that girls who played sports were less likely to report having been in a physical fight than those who were not involved in sports. Female athletes were also less likely to carry a weapon that non-athletes.
“Perhaps creating team-like environments among students such that they may feel part of a group or community could lead to less bullying,” said senior author Dr. Coyne-Beasley.
Is it the camaraderie of sports that is deterring the bullying or is it the fact that these teens have less time to roam the internet and popular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter where cyberbullying is most likely to occur?
Maybe it is a combination of the two. Either way we need to give teen girls the tools to develop positive relationships with one another so that more don’t fall victim to the consequences of cyberbullying.
What do you think?
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