School Bullying Rates Increase by 35% from 2016 to 2019

Sameer and I just finished collecting data from a national sample of nearly 5,000 12-17 year-olds across the United States. And we’re super excited to dig into the data! This is our thirteenth formal survey of students over the last seventeen years (involving more than 25,000 adolescents in total) and the second nationally-representative study we…

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Addressing Religious-based Bullying

Recently, I was a part of a conference held by Facebook and Instagram in Washington, DC. The conference endeavored to bring together members of faith-based NGOs to identify solutions to address bullying and cyberbullying by one’s religion. Overall, it was a productive, energizing few hours together, and I was left feeling very inspired about all…

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Inaugural Issue of the International Journal of Bullying Prevention

The first issue is finally out. Hooray! And it’s freely available for you to download! Issues will be coming out quarterly, and so we’re cranking them out from now on. I’ve written about the goals and intentions of the journal here, and how it fills a huge gap in the existing knowledgebase by providing our…

The Challenge of Understanding the Momo Challenge

A new viral internet craze has created widespread fear and panic among parents, educators, and law enforcement. And like most of the others that came before it, the truth is more complicated (and less threatening) than the hype. I first became aware of the so-called “Momo Challenge” in July of 2018. In short, the idea…

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Cyberbullying and helping youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

I’ve recently discussed the susceptibility of youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to be cyberbullied, outlining a number of reasons that contribute to such victimization.  When it comes to suggestions as to how we can help these kids, a few things stand out in my mind. First, it is really important to try to understand…

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Flash Mobs and Lip-Dubs to Combat Bullying

I was talking with an educator last week about enlisting students to help create a healthy, thriving, and fun school climate, and specifically brought up the idea of flash mobs and lip-dubs. Many of our students have talents and abilities which we should really tap in order to help us promote positive attitudes and behaviors…

Cyberbullying Victimization Rates by Race, Sex, and Age

Our 2016 survey involved a large enough sample of American middle and high school students that it allows us to extrapolate rates of victimization for various demographic subgroups. For this particular chart, we examined cyberbullying victimization within the last 30 days for three characteristics: race, sex, and age. Even with a sample of more than…

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Thoughts on the Final Report of the Federal Commission on School Safety

The Final Report of the Federal Commission on School Safety came out this week, and it has created quite a stir among educators and civil rights advocates. I’m just not sure the 180-page document will do much good. For those of you not familiar, the Commission was brought together after the high school shooting in…

Social Media Companies, Reporting, and Secondary Victimization

One of the complaints I’ve heard most often from educators, parents, and youth when discussing cyberbullying is that social media companies are slow, inept, or unwilling to respond to the formal “reports” they send in through the site or app. This is not only infuriating, but also depressing because it contributes to a feeling of…

The Skinny on Screen Time: Common Sense Over Research (at least for now)

There has long been a fervent debate about the potential impacts of screen time on youth. When our son was born in 2010, the American Academy of Pediatricians recommended no screen time for children under the age of two. The guidelines have softened a bit in recent years, but the group still generally promotes less…

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Authoritative School Climate: The Next Step in Helping Students Thrive

I’m always on the lookout for innovative approaches to improve student well-being and to create healthy, thriving communities – whether online or on campus. And as you know, Justin and I have examined a number of factors over the years which affect the experience of youth during their journey through adolescence. School climate has been…

Sextortion Among Adolescents

Thirteen-year-old Amanda Todd made a mistake. The British Columbia teen had just moved to a new town and turned to the Internet to meet people. She’d been chatting online with a man whom she’d become interested in. He said she was pretty. After more than a year of communicating with the man, he convinced her…

Are “Gamers” More Likely to be “Bullies”?

Conventional wisdom and media headlines would have one believe that those who play video games are more at risk for engaging in a host of anti-social behaviors. There is certainly nothing new about this mentality: It was prominent in my 80s-era adolescence as well. I remember spending many hours playing Mortal Kombat on the classic…

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Bullying, Cyberbullying, and Suicide Among US Youth: Our Updated Research Findings

There continues to be a lot of discussion involving bullying, cyberbullying, and suicide both in the media as well as in social circles of parents, educators, and other youth professionals. I just looked up “suicide and bullying” on Google News and in just this past weekend alone there are multiple stories involving different kids in…

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International Journal of Bullying Prevention

As a cyberbullying scholar, I engage in research related to its identification, prevention, and response and seek to get articles based on this research published in academic journals. By doing so, we can contribute to the extant knowledgebase concerning what we know about cyberbullying, inspire other researchers to advance the proverbial ball, equip educators, mental…

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Federal Commission on School Safety

Yesterday, I testified on “cyberbullying and social media” in front of the Federal Commission of School Safety, chaired by Secretary Betsy DeVos and comprised of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen (Homeland Security), Secretary Alex Azar (Health and Human Services), and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Collectively, they are trying to garner insight on the ecology of schools and…

Empower and Educate, Don’t Just Create Panic

Last weekend a Facebook post by the Polk County (Florida) Sheriff’s Office went viral. As of this writing (less than a week later), the post had been shared more than 58,000 times (including by three of my personal Facebook friends, which is how I came to notice it). This wasn’t a post asking for the…

Student Experiences with Reporting Cyberbullying

Most students who are bullied do not report their experiences to adults. This was true 30 years ago when I endured middle school and our research shows it largely continues to this day. I remember being surprised (though maybe I shouldn’t have been) to learn from our first pilot study undertaken 15 years ago that…

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Emoji as Threats in Student Messages and Social Media

When we speak to students in schools across the nation, we always focus on the positives of social media while also sharing case studies to underscore the reminder they frequently need to hear: “pause before you post.” While there are numerous examples of students missing out on college and university slots, scholarships, and employment opportunities…

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Cyberstalking

I was chatting with some of my students yesterday about cyberstalking, and just as I suspected, at least a few had experienced it and were able to share compelling stories about what happened. It reminded me of two times I personally dealt with it as well, one by a fellow student in undergrad that lasted…

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The Priority for Cyberbullying Prevention

With First Lady Melania Trump mentioning cyberbullying as the major social issue she would like to prioritize and tackle during her husband’s U.S. presidential administration, everyone in my line of work has been buzzing about what that could possibly mean. These last eight years have brought good progress with anti-bullying and anti-cyberbullying efforts by the…

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Discord: A Chat App Not Just For Gamers

It annoys me so much when well-intentioned adults label certain apps as “dangerous” or “evil.” I’ve recently heard such descriptive words about a relatively new app called Discord. Like most new platforms that have come down the pike, there is nothing inherently problematic about it as the majority of participants use it in positive, productive,…

Messenger Kids Isn’t the Problem, But Perhaps Part of the Solution

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood wrote Mark Zuckerberg a public letter today asking the Facebook CEO to shutter its recently released “Messenger Kids” app. The concerns raised by these well-meaning organizations and advocates center on the risks potentially created by the early adoption of technology among kids. I’m unpersuaded by their argument and feel…

Most Teenagers Aren’t Asking for Nude Photos

A recent New York Times headline caught my attention: “Teenagers, Stop Asking for Nude Photos.” Sage advice, I must admit, but I wondered where this was coming from. In the article, Psychologist Lisa Damour argues that we have long been warning children about the dangers (reputational and potential legal consequences) of sending sexually explicit images,…