Young Cyberbullying Victims are Twice at Risk of Self-Harm

Posted on August 22, 2017

A new study led by researchers from the University of Birmingham has found that cyberbullying victims under the age of 25 have more than twice the likelihood to self-harm and attempt suicide, compared to non-victims. The results also found that the person who cyberbullies also has a higher likelihood of having suicidal thoughts and behaviours. The research included 150,000 individuals in 30 countries and spanned a period of 21 years.

The research shows the impact cyberbullying, as the bully and the bullied, can have on individuals below the age of 25. They mention that it highlights the urgency of effective interventions to curb bullying. Some suggestions mentioned are:

1) Cyberbullying should be a consideration of people in charge of implementing anti-bullying and safe Internet-use programs.
2) Clinicians who assess the mental health issues of children and young people should ask about any instances of cyberbullying.
3) The impact of cyberbullying should be part of the training for mental health professionals who work with children and young people.
4) Children and young people of which cyberbullying is a part of their lives should go for screening for common mental disorders and self-harm.
5) Have programs that promote the correct usage of technology in the school, family and community settings.
6) Cyberbullying prevention in school rules on bullying. This should include things like online support for victims, how to intervene as a bystander online, how to contact mobile phone and internet service providers and how to block users.
7) Suicide prevention and intervention as an important aspect of anti-bullying programs. These should include school staff, students and everyone in school.

Study results also found a strong link between being a cyber-victim and a cyber-bully. This led to an increased risk of depression and suicidal behaviours, especially in males. The researchers highlight that these symptoms should be discovered in school, so the cyberbullying can be used as a chance to support students who are vulnerable, rather than face the discipline that they would outside school. Anti-bullying programs should target both the victim and the bully, as possible school exclusion could add to the student’s feelings of isolation and hopelessness. These feelings are usually linked with suicidal behaviours in adolescents.

The study also found that students who were bullied online reported and seeked helped fewer times than students bullied by traditional means. Hence, school staff need to encourage students to seek help for cyberbullying.


Source material from Psych Central

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