Cyberbullying Research Center https://cyberbullying.org Resources and strategies to help combat bullying and cyberbullying. Wed, 13 Mar 2019 23:02:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.1 The Challenge of Understanding the Momo Challenge https://cyberbullying.org/momo-challenge https://cyberbullying.org/momo-challenge#respond Fri, 01 Mar 2019 22:12:34 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=22080 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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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 behind the challenge is that individuals communicate with a leader/moderator on WhatsApp (a messaging app that is much more popular overseas than here in the U.S.). This leader gives the person a series of tasks that start out relatively mundane (e.g., to watch a movie or listen to a song) but that ultimately culminate in self-harm or even suicide. The directives involved are very similar to the Blue Whale Challenge that I wrote about nearly two years ago. The Blue Whale Challenge was eventually exposed as a hoax, and no known harm to youth was linked to it (despite hundreds of media outlets creating clickbait headlines that fomented fear without any real substantiation or proof).

I was immediately skeptical of the Momo Challenge because of how similar it was to what occurred with the Blue Whale Challenge. I thought about writing something about it eight months ago, but was happily surprised when it didn’t seem to garner much attention. I thought perhaps the media and the public had learned its lesson regarding these kinds of stories. It turns out I was wrong. Just this week, seemingly out of nowhere, talk of Momo exploded in my social media feeds. Police departments and schools warned parents to protect their kids from the demonic female figure prominently portrayed as the deity-like symbol of the challenge. Mostly well-intentioned adults have since fanned the flames of this phenomenon into wildfire, and increasing numbers of people are simply freaking out.

To some extent, I don’t blame them. I am the first to admit that the image associated with the Momo Challenge is beyond creepy (it is actually a sculpture created by a Japanese special effects company). I don’t doubt that kids are disturbed by seeing the photo. Emotions are overriding logic, and parents are pulling the plugs on their kid’s devices, for fear of Momo reaching out and grabbing them. In reality, they have little to worry about when it comes to Momo. The Momo Challenge does not exist. There is no leader/moderator sending messages to future suicide victims. Like the Blue Whale Challenge, there have been no documented deaths or injuries directly connected to this particular challenge. Only third-hand reports from international tabloids. No legitimate media source or law enforcement agency has provided any evidence that the Momo Challenge poses a viable threat. If this was a true problem, the police would be investigating suicides and producing evidence of digital communication with an online moderator encouraging self-harm. None of this has happened. Indeed, most reputable media outlets are finally acknowledging that this is a hoax.

The image is incredibly upsetting. But all of this attention given to it has apparently emboldened trolls and other mischief-makers online to promote it and even work to embed it in videos and social media memes just to see what sort of response they can get (though even these instances are difficult to substantiate). I’ve seen videos of people holding phones playing a video in which the Momo image appears with threatening messages, but have not seen a link to a video on a platform that targets youth. Here is a “challenge” for you: if you know someone who has seen a Momo image in a video or have heard of someone who has participated in the challenge, ask that person who shared it with you if they directly encountered it. My prediction is they heard about it from someone else (who heard about it from someone else, etc.). That’s how these hoaxes spread: someone posts something online and then people share the heck out of it without consideration of its origins. If you have personally encountered a Momo threat on a YouTube video, please send us a direct link to the video immediately so we can investigate.

In the meantime, take a deep breath and take this opportunity to chat with your children more generally about what they are encountering online. Honestly, Momo is the least of your worries. There are many other potential threats that are much more real than this one. All of these, however, can be minimized through good communication. What I wrote two years ago about the Blue Whale Challenge is still very relevant today with this latest challenge:

Whether the Blue Whale Challenge/Game/App is true or not is mostly beside the point. There certainly are many pro-suicide websites and individuals or groups online who encourage others to commit suicide. Today it may be a Blue Whale, tomorrow it could be some other high profile provocation [edit: Momo!]. Take this opportunity to talk with your children about what they might encounter online (positive and negative) and foster a relationship with them so that they know they can turn to you if they run into trouble or are feeling down. Open conversations and frequent dialog are the best way to inoculate our kids from the variety of life challenges they are likely to confront, whether perceived or actual, online or off.

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Cyberbullying and helping youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) https://cyberbullying.org/cyberbullying-and-asd-youth https://cyberbullying.org/cyberbullying-and-asd-youth#comments Mon, 25 Feb 2019 12:58:42 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=408 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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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 exactly what is wrong – why the child is being bullied, and how it makes him or her feel.  We also need to realize that what may seem normal to us – in terms of social interaction – is not normal to ASD kids.  We have to venture into their definition of “normalcy” to fully empathize with how they are struggling.  The traditional ways that we help non-AS youth may not bear much fruit when working with ASD youth, just like it is useless to implement multicolored lights on an instrument panel when the operator is color-blind.  As you perhaps know, they receive social signals but cannot decode their meaning with any beneficial level of reliability.  They have what could be considered subjective blindness, and it is not a fault of theirs – it is simply how they are.

Personally speaking, I have found that ASD youth tend not to ask for help, not because they prefer isolation or independence, but because it does not naturally occur to them that another person will have a different perspective, different experience/knowledge, and thus might find a different or better solution.  Encourage them to tell you how they are feeling, even though they may not respond.  If they can’t answer directly, perhaps they will share their thoughts on how the same instance of cyberbullying might make another person feel.  That might clue you in to the emotions they are wrestling with.

When you are trying to share advice or suggestions of prevention and response, repeat your message often for reinforcement and heavily use logical explanations.  It may be wise to create and use simple flowcharts to depict human behavior.  These can show actions, the way in which the actions affect others, and the way in which others’ responses then affect the subject, to aid their decision-making processes.  For example, “if I do X, it will cause effect Y on other people, which will cause them to respond to me with Z”.

Finally, when working with cyberbullying targets who have ASD, it may be useful to jointly analyze stories, characters, plots and motivation in fiction, to point out tropes and story cues, and to figure out why characters act as they do.  Also, try using comic books or comic strips – which often convey some of the story through characters’ emotion-laden expressions, but in simplified “cartooned” art that is easier to comprehend.  Comic strips with humor that relate to real life situations are especially good; they teach typical motivations, reading faces, understanding humor, decision-making, and coping/response mechanisms all at once.

Let us know of your successes and failures.  We are especially interested in this population of vulnerable youth, and want to all we can to help.

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Flash Mobs and Lip-Dubs to Combat Bullying https://cyberbullying.org/flash-mobs-and-lip-dubs-to-combat-bullying https://cyberbullying.org/flash-mobs-and-lip-dubs-to-combat-bullying#respond Thu, 21 Feb 2019 11:54:09 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=21911 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…

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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 across our campus. Unfortunately, we don’t do this often enough, even though student voice is such a powerful thing and can make way more of an impact than the efforts of well-meaning adults.

A flash mob is a large group of people who suddenly break into synchronized song or choreographed dance — sometimes both – in a public place for the purposes of entertainment, artistic expression, or to bring attention to a cause. A lip-dub is a music video where a group of individuals are recorded lip-syncing a song, after which the original audio of the song is dubbed over the video in post-editing. Many students (including myself!) have grown up in dance – whether it’s hip-hop, jazz, ballet, tap, or a similar style – and have be inspired to create flash mobs or performed at their school or other locations. And many students (including myself!) absolutely LOVE music of all kinds – so many songs become the soundtrack of our lives as we grow up – and are highly skilled at video recording and editing.

So, it makes perfect sense to marshal the interests, aptitudes, and creativity of students at your school to share an uplifting message that can then be used as a springboard for conversation and intentional efforts to accomplish certain major goals: more kindness and less bullying, more acceptance and less prejudice, more inclusion and less exclusion. Heck, many times the news channels want to know about it so they can have cameras at the ready – and it will bring some positive attention to your school and community to counter the negative stories that typically make headlines.

The best part about flash mobs and lip-dubs at your school is witnessing the pure JOY in the faces of students who participate. I mean, just look at the students involved in the videos below! They are having a blast, and it is something they will remember for the rest of their lives. These are the moments we want to create at our school. These are the moments that matter when it comes to connecting and bonding students together, improving morale, fostering cooperation and teamwork, inspiring positive thinking, and promoting school spirit.

Here are some of my favorite flash mobs involving students:


Here are some of my favorite lip dubs involving students:

Finally, the educator I was chatting with wanted to know my favorite songs that would be ideal for a flash mob or lip-dub. Apart from the songs in the videos above, I recommend these:


Panic at the Disco – High Hopes
Katy Perry – Firework
Sia – Never Give Up
Sara Bareilles – Brave
Journey – Don’t Stop Believing
Andy Grammer – Keep Your Head Up
Alessia Cara – Scars to Your Beautiful
Rachel Platten – Fight Song
Christina Aguilera – You’re Beautiful
Kelly Clarkson – Stronger
Natasha Bedingfield – Unwritten
Demi Lovato – Skyscraper

Hope this helps! Find just one student on your campus who absolutely adores dance and/or music, and talk to them about they might be able to do with their friends. It’s very likely that you’ll be blown away by what they come up with!


Image source: https://bit.ly/2X6Dcl3

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Cyberbullying Glossary https://cyberbullying.org/cyberbullying-glossary https://cyberbullying.org/cyberbullying-glossary#comments Fri, 15 Feb 2019 15:05:31 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=3984 By Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin This Fact Sheet covers and defines the terms you need to know in the realm of cyberbullying and Internet safety, so that you are increasingly informed about technological jargon as you work with online youth. Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J. W. (2018). Cyberbullying Glossary: Terms You Need To…

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By Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin

This Fact Sheet covers and defines the terms you need to know in the realm of cyberbullying and Internet safety, so that you are increasingly informed about technological jargon as you work with online youth.

Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J. W. (2018). Cyberbullying Glossary: Terms You Need To Know. Cyberbullying Research Center. Retrieved [insert date], from https://cyberbullying.org/cyberbullying_glossary.pdf

Download PDF or click here for the HTML version.

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Cyberbullying Victimization Rates by Race, Sex, and Age https://cyberbullying.org/cyberbullying-victimization-rates-2016 https://cyberbullying.org/cyberbullying-victimization-rates-2016#respond Mon, 07 Jan 2019 16:05:32 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=21411 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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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 5,500 respondents from around the United States, some of these subcategories got a bit small (subsample sizes ranged from 29 to 1,191), so we should take care not to over-generalize the results. With that caveat in mind, it is interesting to see that multiracial females, both in high school (209.5 out of 1,000) and middle school (186 out of 1,000) are most at risk for experiencing cyberbullying compared to other demographic subgroups. While females occupied the top three spots for victimization risk, males weren’t far behind with the next five spots. Asian and Hispanic students were near the bottom for risk. There doesn’t appear to be a clear pattern with respect to age, which surprised me a bit since usually we find that middle school students are involved in cyberbullying more often. It total, we looked at nineteen different subcategories (for which we had a suitable subsample size).

When I set out to create this chart, I did so because I was simply interested in how race, sex, and age were related to cyberbullying victimization. After reviewing the results, a few thoughts occurred to me. While almost all of our research papers include controls for race, we (like others) are usually forced to dichotomize race as white or nonwhite. We are therefore only examining whether white students are different from nonwhite students. As a result, we generally do not see significant relationships by race. That is, our research would suggest that there are no differences based on race when it comes to experiencing cyberbullying. In looking at the different subgroups in this chart, we can see why: white students are generally in the middle, while nonwhite students occupy the upper and lower ends of the continuum of risk. When the nonwhite students are averaged, their experiences end up looking a lot like those of white students. Indeed white students overall had victimization rates only sightly higher (175.3) than nonwhites (144.7), but this relatively small discrepancy belies the true differences among those who fall in the nonwhite category: multiracial females and black and multiracial males have significantly higher victimization rates, while Asian and Hispanic students have lower victimization rates compared to their white counterparts. The takeaway message for me is that more cyberbullying research needs to focus on under-represented racial groups. That requires collecting larger samples from the general public to ensure large enough numbers of minority groups, or to purposely oversample these groups (or even focus exclusively on them).

It is also true that there is disagreement in the academic literature regarding whether boys or girls are more likely to experience cyberbullying. We’ve even seen differences in our own research over time. Much of the difference across studies can be attributed to the different ways that cyberbullying is measured. For example, if a survey asks about rumor spreading or hurtful commenting behaviors, then girls are more likely to be involved. Whereas if a survey includes questions about mistreatment in videos or via online gaming platforms, boys are more frequently involved. The broader the measure of online victimization, the fewer discrepancies are generally seen. We discuss these issues in depth in our book Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard, but I think can do a better job of acknowledging the varying experiences of different groups, and of examining them more thoughtfully in our research.

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Thoughts on the Final Report of the Federal Commission on School Safety https://cyberbullying.org/report-federal-commission-school-safety https://cyberbullying.org/report-federal-commission-school-safety#comments Fri, 21 Dec 2018 16:24:24 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=21395 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…

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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 Parkland, Florida. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was appointed to lead it, and other members included Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and the Attorney General’s office (first, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and now Attorney General Matthew Whitaker). I agree with President Trump when he stated that “nothing is more important than protecting our nation’s children.” As such, the overall charge of the commission was to provide meaningful and actionable recommendations to keep students safe at school. I understand they (and their teams) spent hundreds of hours in this endeavor, and I am sincerely grateful for that time and effort.

I was honored to have been invited to speak in front of the Commission in June to talk specifically about our research on cyberbullying, social media misuse, and school climate (my full formal remarks are here). I am always interested in debating the critical issues at hand, and absolutely welcome your feedback on the points I raised in my testimony as I believe an ongoing conversation about these issues is important.

But for now, I want to weigh in with a few important statements about the final report. While I have thoughts on some of the other issues raised, for the purposes of this post I am going to focus only on the areas I was asked to provide insight on.

First, the Commission asserted that states and local communities should “consider various approaches to school safety based on their own unique needs.” I realize that they want to empower schools to do what they think best, since they know their school population better than anyone. However, I would argue that such guidance isn’t very helpful at all, because state and local communities have been doing that for decades now, and school safety issues continue to be a major sticking point. If state and local communities could figure this out without strong, meaningful recommendations from the federal government, they would have done so a long time ago. Instead, I feel that the federal government must direct state and local communities with specific research-informed solutions.

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Second, they suggested that schools should work to improve internet safety measures. Even if schools had world-class firewalls and futuristic algorithm-based content monitoring systems in place, we all know that students are just using their phones to access pretty much whatever they want to online – and that cannot be systematically controlled. Plus, research has pointed out that monitoring doesn’t seem to differentiate those who cyberbully from those who don’t.

Third, they recommend that schools partner with parents to improve internet safety measures. Schools and families must absolutely work together to convey a consistent set of expectations, behavioral norms, encouragement, and guidance. However, schools could use a lot more clarity in terms of how exactly to do this. Does this mean having more “parent night” presentations on bullying and cyberbullying and mental health and other adolescent problems? We all have been to some where there are barely five people in the audience, and four of those work at the school. Schools need more informed insight on how exactly to do this, especially with large populations of parents who are already “on tilt” related to school safety issues because of the tragedies we’ve had in our nation, as well as the specific difficult experiences their own child has endured. From our experience, incentivizing attendance through “parent honor rolls” or extra credit, tying parent trainings together with student award ceremonies, providing child care and a meal, or live-streaming the event are simple ways to reach more parents.

Fourth, the report discusses (and appear to endorse) an increasing trend across states to criminalize bullying and cyberbullying. Every expert I’ve talked to share Justin’s and my perspective that this is a bad idea. Please see numerous blogs and documents we’ve written on this issue. I strongly feel that those who bully or cyberbully generally do not deserve to be placed on a trajectory that labels them as a juvenile delinquent or criminal, as that often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy where they believe that everyone has given up on them. And, since bullying and cyberbullying are often behaviors performed spontaneously and/or are rooted in heavy, immediate emotions, students are not going to stop and think about the laws, policies, and punishments that will affect them. They simply act without consideration of the consequences, irrespective of how draconian they are. In addition, our published, peer-reviewed research is clear that first schools, then parents, and then lastly law enforcement have the strongest influence in deterring bullying and cyberbullying.

Fifth, the commission called for more “character education” programs in schools. This is great. This is commendable. I strongly believe in, and constantly preach about, the importance of the whole-child approach and doing all we can to raise up a generation of students who have ethical boundaries, are committed to excellence, and care about others in genuine ways. Every school I have ever worked with wants to focus more on character education. Unfortunately, administrators and counselors and teachers are up to their eyeballs with their lesson plans and standardized testing prep and the daily extinguishing of numerous fires that flare up. What would have been much more helpful is to prescribe and provide schools with more resources and personnel to make this happen. (It should be noted that the report calls for no additional federal funding for any of its recommendations.)

Sixth, the commission encouraged states to provide more resources for schools to create positive school climates. This is also great and commendable. Justin and I wrote a book on the importance of school climate in preventing bullying, cyberbullying, and sexting, and since then we’ve been giving impassioned talks on the topic to major groups of educators multiple times a year because this is our heartbeat. I am thankful that the report provided a few important specific recommendations here, including: anonymous tip lines for students, student-led anti-bullying clubs, and building student ambassador programs. I have seen these initiatives work. However, I wanted the Commission to provide many more concrete suggestions, as well as specific guidance on how to enlist the help of all point persons across a school to translate these ideas into reality. Schools have ideas, but they also need symbolic and substantive support to consistently and faithfully implement programming throughout the entire school year, year after year after year. This is what is most strongly lacking.

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Overall, I will admit that it is easy for me to be critical of the report when I think about all that could have been discussed and prescribed. The big picture ideas were on point – and so my time in front of the panel was beneficial. I just very much wish that the macro was drilled down into the micro. Educators who work in your state, or district, or even local school know and understand the importance of the specific themes mentioned. They aren’t new, and they aren’t revolutionary. What they don’t know is which ones work best, how exactly to implement and manage them, how to get everyone on board to support them, and where in the world they will get the time, personnel, money, margin, and (often even) motivation to make them a reality. More funding – both for the research studies to illuminate specific, best practices and for the support staff and programming needed – would go a long way towards this end. (Unfortunately, in 2018 the government cancelled the only dedicated funding stream for school safety research). 

That is what is missing, and that is why I feel like schools are not much better off after this report. I feel like this was a major missed opportunity by the federal government. And now that the work of the Commission is done, everyone will be inclined to just move on with business as usual. And this report will be one of thousands of PDF files collecting cyber-dust on the ED.gov web site, instead of being a regularly-referenced and dog-eared resource on the desks of every school administrator across the nation.

As I close, allow me to be prescriptive and to tangibly help you. When the Trump administration first took office, I fleshed out what the federal government should do by way of resilience programming, social norming, specific school climate efforts, positive behavior supports, social and relational skillsets, problem-solving and decision-making techniques, character education and emotional intelligence, and empathy training – and provided citations to research underscoring the importance of each of these.

Please click on each of those above terms to be directed to what you can specifically do in your schools. In addition, we have covered these issues through numerous blogs, downloadable tip sheets, and in our numerous books. We’re happy to also assist you with input and resources to set them up and keep them going strong

Reach out at any time, and we will get you whatever you need.

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Social Media Companies, Reporting, and Secondary Victimization https://cyberbullying.org/social-media-reporting-victimization https://cyberbullying.org/social-media-reporting-victimization#respond Wed, 12 Dec 2018 14:59:40 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=21359 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…

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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 helplessness that targets feel. In addition, it conveys the notion that the corporate sector in this space simply does not care, and is only interested in making money off of its user base without truly prioritizing safety and security.

Thankfully, I am here to tell you that they are making progress.

Many that we have met in the corporate sector do seem to care, and the major social media companies are devoting an increasing amount of personnel and resources to build healthy, thriving online communities. Of course, a huge part of this has to do with scaling their safety team and safety technology to field, parse, and process all of the reports that come in. ­­­­­This matters so much. It matters because it reflects corporate responsibility, and because individual lives are on the other side of these reports. Their mental health and overall well-being are inextricably tied to the victimization they have experienced, and how they can recover from it.

What we know from the past, and what we are seeing in the present clearly illustrates that the way in which social media companies respond to the cyberbullying reports they receive can either mitigate harm to the target, or can multiply harm.

And we have to avoid the latter at all costs. Here’s why.

Secondary Victimization

In the field of criminal justice, there is a concept called secondary victimization, defined as “negative social or societal reaction in consequence of the primary victimization and is experienced as further violation of legitimate rights or entitlements by the victim” (Montada, 1994). Said another way, “following the loss of control that often accompanies criminal victimization, victims seek recognition and support, and professional but distant reactions from authorities can leave victims feeling rejected and not supported” (Wemmers, 2013).

What the Research Says

Generally speaking, if a victim of a crime has an awful experience with authorities who are supposed to respond to their call for help, they feel doubly victimized. More specifically, research has found that victims often feel re-violated due to the insensitive or inadequate response of those who are supposed to come to their aid (Campbell & Raja, 1999; Patterson, 2011), such as when they fail to recognize the gravity of the offense or display empathy toward the victim’s experience (ToV, 2017). Infrequent contact or incomplete follow-up with the victim also can produce high levels of uncertainty and a deep lack of trust (Wemmers, 2002, 2013), which can result in the victim backing out of the case and choosing not to report any future incidents (Left in the Dark, 2017).

For some victims, being treated in this way actually may be more harmful than the original victimization (Garvin & Beloof, 2015) and can lead to various forms of felt trauma (Garvin & Le Claire, 2013). Secondary victimization has been correlated with posttraumatic stress symptoms (Orth, 2002; Garvin & Le Claire, 2013; Walsh & Bruce, 2011; Garvin & Beloof, 2015) and physical and psychological distress (Orth, 2002; Patterson, 2011; Wemmers, 2013; Garvin & Beloof, 2015). In addition, the target’s self-esteem, faith, and trust in the system – and society at large – may very well be compromised permanently (Garvin & Le Claire, 2013; Garvin & Beloof, 2015).

The Importance of Positive Interactions with Those Supposed to Help

However, research is also clear that having positive interactions with authorities in charge of responding is incredibly important for the victim’s recovery process (Wemmers, 2013). Remaining “in the know” and feeling supported by caring, conscientious responders can improve depression and quality of life (Garvin & Beloof, 2015), while also assisting in healing and the rebuilding of their lives (ToV, 2017). Indeed, the manner in which the victim is treated throughout the process, the amount of control the victim is given, and the extent to which they are allowed to participate all greatly influence the victim’s mental and physical well-being (Garvin & Lee, 2013). Communication is the key; it helps victims feel they are involved, know what to expect with the investigation and adjudication of the matter, and take comfort in receiving regular updates – which is tied to their feelings of safety (ToV, 2017; Garvin & Beloof, 2015; Wemmers, 2013).

My Experience Reporting Abuse to Instagram and Twitter

Let’s bring this back to social media. Recently, I was pleasantly surprised when I reported cyberbullying on both Instagram and Twitter using their standard Report Abuse functionality within their respective apps. Both companies responded immediately to let me know that they had received my report and were looking into the matter, and would get back to me. In both situations, they also thanked me for taking the initiative to report and to help make their online communities safer. Finally, they both got back to me and let me know exactly what they did in response to the violations I reported (they deleted both!), and what I should do to continue to protect myself on their app.

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This helped me so much. I felt like I was doing a good thing, and I felt like my voice was being heard. I felt like I was in the loop, and that something would happen, one way or the other. And I felt like I had closure after they dealt with each incident. I could move on, and I could know that they seemed to care about what happened to me and wanted to do all they could to ensure my continued usage and enjoyment of their app and platform. To reiterate, these reports were made through the app – just like any user would – and not through any contacts I have at the social media companies.

instagram-cyberbullying-report

Now, at this point I should state that individuals who have been cyberbullied still regularly contact our Center and ask for help specifically because certain social media companies have not responded in the way I just described.

I honestly don’t know why this is.

Perhaps what was reported did not violate the app’s Terms of Service. To be sure, not all unpleasant or personally offending interactions or posts meet a standard that warrants takedown. Perhaps the social media company needs multiple people to report a specific piece of content before it is escalated and made actionable. Perhaps the target failed to include vital information such as offending usernames, account details, screenshots, or video recordings.

All I can say is that my experiences using the Report functionality within the apps have been positive. I truly hope your experiences are increasingly so.

By increasing capacity on their side to deal with safety issues, coupled with the maturation of algorithms to expediently process reports, social media companies appear to be moving in the right direction. This has to remain a priority, and I expect further improvements as they continue to iterate. Of course, it is in their best interests to create and maintain safe spaces in which we love to interact, because otherwise users will eventually leave, and negative media stories will undermine their valuation and future potential.

Let us know in the Comments if your experiences mirrors or diverges from mine. I’m really curious to hear your feedback.

Please note: Our Contact page explains exactly what type of details you should provide when reporting abuse, and our Report Cyberbullying page provides the contact information for various sites, apps, gaming platforms, and IT companies. If you still struggle and cannot get a response from them, let us know and we will do all we can to help.

 

References

Campbell, R. (2005). What really happened? A validation study of rape survivors’ help-seeking experiences with the legal and medical systems. Violence and victims20(1), 55-68.

Campbell, R., & Raja, S. (1999). Secondary victimization of rape victims: Insights from mental health professionals who treat survivors of violence. Violence and victims14(3), 261-275.

Garvin, M., & Beloof, D. E. (2015). Crime Victim Agency: Independent Lawyers for Sexual Assault Victims. Ohio St. J. Crim. L.13, 67.

Garvin, M., & LeClaire, S. (2013). Polyvictims: Victims’ Rights Enforcement as a Tool to Mitigate “Secondary Victimization” in the Criminal Justice System. National Crime Victim Law Institute Victim Law Bulletin.

Left in the dark: Why victims of crime need to be kept informed. (2018). Victim Support, a registered U.K. Charity. Retrieved December 4, 2018, from https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/sites/default/files/Left%20in%20the%20dark%20-%20why%20victims%20of%20crime%20need%20to%20be%20kept%20informed.pdf

Montada, L. (1994). Injustice in harm and loss. Soc. Justice Res. 7:5–28.

Orth, U. (2002). Secondary victimization of crime victims by criminal proceedings. Social Justice Research15(4), 313-325.

Patterson, D. (2011). The linkage between secondary victimization by law enforcement and rape case outcomes. Journal of interpersonal violence26(2), 328-347.

The Trauma of Victimization. (n.d.). Retrieved December 4, 2018 from https://victimsofcrime.org/help-for-crime-victims/get-help-bulletins-for-crime-victims/trauma-of-victimization#injuries

Walsh, R. M., & Bruce, S. E. (2011). The relationships between perceived levels of control, psychological distress, and legal system variables in a sample of sexual assault survivors. Violence against women17(5), 603-618.

Wemmers, J. A. (2002). Restorative justice for victims of crime: a victim-oriented approach to restorative justice. International Review of Victimology9(1), 43-59.

Wemmers, J. A. (2013). Victims’ experiences in the criminal justice system and their recovery from crime. International Review of Victimology19(3), 221-233.

 

Image source:

https://bit.ly/2P2dAR3

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State Sexting Laws https://cyberbullying.org/state-sexting-laws https://cyberbullying.org/state-sexting-laws#respond Mon, 26 Nov 2018 10:53:38 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=2503 By Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin This regularly updated fact sheet provides a brief overview of the main elements of state sexting laws in the United States. More detailed information can be found here: https://cyberbullying.org/sexting-laws If you are aware of updates to the sexting laws in your state that are not included, please let…

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By Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin

This regularly updated fact sheet provides a brief overview of the main elements of state sexting laws in the United States. More detailed information can be found here: https://cyberbullying.org/sexting-laws If you are aware of updates to the sexting laws in your state that are not included, please let us know.

Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J. (2018). State Sexting Laws. Cyberbullying Research Center. Retrieved [insert date], from https://cyberbullying.org/state-sexting-laws.pdf

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State Cyberbullying Laws: A Brief Review of State Cyberbullying Laws and Policies https://cyberbullying.org/state-cyberbullying-laws-a-brief-review-of-state-cyberbullying-laws-and-policies https://cyberbullying.org/state-cyberbullying-laws-a-brief-review-of-state-cyberbullying-laws-and-policies#comments Mon, 26 Nov 2018 02:12:11 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=2186 By Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin This Research Summary summarizes the current state of cyberbullying bills and laws across the United States. More detailed information can be found here: https://cyberbullying.org/bullying-laws Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J. (2018). State Cyberbullying Laws: A Brief Review of State Cyberbullying Laws and Policies. Cyberbullying Research Center. Retrieved [insert date], from…

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By Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin

This Research Summary summarizes the current state of cyberbullying bills and laws across the United States. More detailed information can be found here: https://cyberbullying.org/bullying-laws

Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J. (2018). State Cyberbullying Laws: A Brief Review of State Cyberbullying Laws and Policies. Cyberbullying Research Center. Retrieved [insert date], from https://cyberbullying.org/Bullying-and-Cyberbullying-Laws.pdf

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The Skinny on Screen Time: Common Sense Over Research (at least for now) https://cyberbullying.org/the-skinny-on-screen-time https://cyberbullying.org/the-skinny-on-screen-time#respond Mon, 12 Nov 2018 19:15:15 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=21314 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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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 rather than more time in front of screens for toddlers and young children.

And while fear-based rhetoric about the harmful consequences of screens abounds, solid research is generally lacking. It’s true that childhood screen time has increased since 2010. It’s also true that depressive symptoms, suicide rates, and anxiety among teens have been increasing recently. But does that mean the added time in front of a screen caused these problems? It should also be noted that teen pregnancy, drug use, binge drinking, and delinquency are all down recently. Can we blame screens for these positive developments? We are reminded in all of the above relationships that correlation does not equal causation.

Simply put, we still don’t know much about the consequences of screen time (on the positive or negative side). Nevertheless, some are moving forward with restrictions before waiting for evidence.

For example, some affluent schools are now actively limiting classroom screen time, with the idea that it is inherently bad. Whereas twenty years ago concerns raised about a so-called “digital divide” referred to higher income schools having greater access to the latest technology, today the opposite is apparently true. According to a recent article in the New York Times: “While the private Waldorf School of the Peninsula, popular with Silicon Valley executives, eschews most screens, the nearby public Hillview Middle School advertises its 1:1 iPad program.” It used to be that low-income schools couldn’t afford technology. Now they can’t afford teachers, so they’ve increasingly replaced teachers with technology. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if schools were filled with great teachers who knew when and how to use technology to expand learning opportunities for all students?

One of the concerns raised is centered on the sedentary nature of screen time. It probably doesn’t require sophisticated research to prove that sitting around for hours on end is bad for the body (schools, are you listening?). But what about screen time that encourages activity? Lately, for example, my now eight-year-old has become interested in our “classic” Nintendo Wii. As a reward for completing homework and household chores, my wife and I allow him some Wii time. He’s totally into active games like Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort. He is up and moving and not simply stagnantly staring at a screen from the sofa. I have no problem with this.

Another worry about screen time is that it may negatively impact normal sleep patterns. Certainly staying up all night playing active shooter games (or even just watching movies) will effect attentiveness at school the next day. But a recently-published study in the Journal of Pediatrics (perhaps counterintuitively) shows that more screen time doesn’t correlate to substantially less sleep. Andrew Przybylski, the study’s author, concludes that “digital screen time, on its own, has little practical effect on pediatric sleep.”

At this point, as a parent, I tend to take a stance that is less guided by science and more informed by intuition: Too much screen time is probably not a good thing. How much is “too much” depends a lot on the kid and their circumstances. I try to balance my son’s screen time with his other extra-curricular activities (currently: scouting and hockey). He also enjoys playing outside and going for walks in the woods with me and our German shorthaired pointer. So I’m not worried about him sitting around for too long. I also see the many benefits of technology. While he doesn’t yet have a smartphone of his own, he is allowed to use mine for the 10-minute commute home from school (as long as he had a good day and did something kind for a classmate). He has access to a tablet and does like to play a few puzzle games, but he’s also into Pokémon (the card game, not the app), cribbage, chess, and other non-digital games. Overall, I’d say he’s well-rounded when it comes to his daily activities. I’m sure this balance will continue to evolve as he enters adolescence.

Common Sense Media sums the debate up nicely: “What’s more important is the quality of kids’ media, how it fits into your family’s lifestyle, and how you engage your kids with it.” Common sense seems an appropriate tool to gauge how much screen time is too much. At least until research catches up.

Image: Hal Gatewood on Unsplash

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Livestreaming: Top Ten Tips for Teens https://cyberbullying.org/livestreaming-tips-for-teens https://cyberbullying.org/livestreaming-tips-for-teens#respond Wed, 24 Oct 2018 15:29:56 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=21302 By Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin (For a formatted .pdf version of this article for distribution, click on the image above [or click here]). Online videos are where it’s at these days. But dated, archived videos sometimes aren’t as desirable or compelling as live videos – depending on the content you want to show.…

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By Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin
(For a formatted .pdf version of this article for distribution, click on the image above [or click here]).

Online videos are where it’s at these days. But dated, archived videos sometimes aren’t as desirable or compelling as live videos – depending on the content you want to show. Plus, it’s hard to resist the lure of feeling like you’re a celebrity as others tune into your real-time broadcast to watch you sing, or put on makeup, or climb a mountain, or play Fortnite, or wax eloquently about your crush or your favorite movies or the problems in your life. There are tons of livestreaming apps exploding in popularity such as Periscope, YouNow, TikTok/Musical.ly, Twitch, Discord, Mixer, Picarto, Smashcast, and Live.Me, as well as livestreaming options on apps such as YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. Feel free to use them! Just be sure to use them responsibly. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. BE CAREFUL ABOUT WHAT YOU LIVESTREAM – ONCE YOU GO LIVE, IT MAY BE ARCHIVED FOREVER. Be smart about the image you portray on your livestreams. Colleges and employers use whatever they can find out about you online to determine if you are worthy of admission or employment. Even if you delete your livestreams afterwards, others can screen-record your videos without your knowledge. Would you be worried if someone from your dream school or job found it?

2. BE INFORMED AND UTILIZE PRIVACY AND SAFETY FEATURES ON YOUR LIVESTREAMING APPS. Many apps allow you to control who can see your livestream, as well as who can leave comments. If possible, utilize privacy settings to make your livestream accessible to your friends or followers list only – simply because you should be able to trust them more than random members of the general public creeping on your feed. In addition, actively block individuals you do not want to view your livestreams. The features you’re provided are largely platform-dependent, so take the time to explore them. For example, on Twitch.TV you have a variety of options to ban certain users and words/phrases both temporarily and permanently and can disable links in chat. You can also require commenters to be e-mail verified and agree to your channel’s rules.

3. KEEP YOUR LOCATION SAFE AND HIDDEN. You should be cautious mentioning where you are or where you will be while livestreaming. We recommend turning off Location Services for your operating system, camera, program, and app. Otherwise, always remember to set your livestream to Friends only (instead of Public). If you don’t, your livestream will be viewable by anyone and may show up on public livestream maps searchable and zoomable by specific locations (for example, here is Facebook Live’s map: https://www.facebook.com/live/discover/map).

4. USE DISCRETION WHEN LINKING YOUR LIVESTREAM TO YOUR OTHER ACCOUNTS. Be careful about linking your livestream platform to your other social media accounts. Do you want everyone who scopes out your livestream to also see your Instagram and get a good feel for all you do and where you go? Also, sometimes we unwittingly share personal information on our other social media platforms that we wouldn’t ever share to our livestream audience. It’s best to have all of your accounts privacy protected (only friends and followers have access), unless you are knowingly seeking a public audience.

5. LIVESTREAMING IN YOUR HOME COULD MAKE YOU EASIER TO LOCATE. When livestreaming at home, you can reveal a lot of personal information without knowing it. If your street, house, any important papers, pictures, or other identifiable objects are in the frame, others could piece together information about you that you’d rather keep private.

6. READ THE TERMS OF SERVICE OF LIVESTREAMING PLATFORMS. Read up on the Terms of Services for each livestreaming app you use to see who owns the content you create. Often times you own the content you create as long as it is unique and does not violate another owner’s copyright. However, platforms such as Twitch.TV maintain the right to modify and distribute your content as they see fit which can include for advertising purposes (without having to compensate you). Basically, once you agree to the app’s terms, you give that platform the right to sublicense your content royalty-free.

7. REPORT ABUSE OR INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR. If you ever experience bullying, harassment, or any other suspicious behavior that makes you unconformable, make sure you report it to the app. All livestreaming apps have reporting tools, though some are more robust than others. For example, YouTube has strict Community Guidelines for user behavior, and repeat violators can have their accounts terminated.

8. BE MINDFUL OF RULES AND LAWS WHEN LIVESTREAMING. If you livestream a concert performance, at a museum, or other certain events, you may be infringing on copyright laws. If you are livestreaming a unique animation, video game, or song the copyright owner of that content may have your stream taken down. That being said, livestreaming in the street or in a public place is most likely okay, unless you’re doing it for commercial purposes (and if so, you need to get releases signed by everyone you stream). Certain livestreaming platforms will take down your video if it is flagged for copyright infringement by an artist, publisher, or other content owner. Also remember that people in your livestream might do or say things you really don’t want broadcasted in real-time to everyone out there.

9. DETERMINE WHAT IS ACCEPTABLE, AND DON’T TOLERATE WHAT IS UNACCEPTABLE. Both kids and adults alike can be coerced to reveal personal information or engage in unwanted behaviors during livestreams. Remember that you are in charge of your livestream and you can and should control the behavior of others so that everyone plays nice and no one gets victimized. The last thing you want is for your channel to be known as a haven for trolls or predators. Stop it before it really starts.

10. OPENLY DISCUSS AND AGREE ON BOUNDARIES AND RULES ABOUT LIVESTREAMING FOR YOURSELF WITH YOUR FAMILY OR FRIENDS. Livestreaming doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the reality is that you can never fully trust everyone out there who may access your feed. It is important to discuss what personal information should and should not be shared – including your location – with someone else who can keep you accountable and make sure you’re not forgetting to consider something. Ideally, it should be your dad or your mom, or an older sibling. Again, the point is to take precautions at the beginning to keep you from dealing with fallout, headaches, and heartaches in the end.

Citation information: Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J. W. (2018). Livestreaming: Top Ten Tips for Teens. Cyberbullying Research Center. Retrieved (insert date), from https://cyberbullying.org/Livestreaming-Top-Ten-Tips-for-Teens.pdf

Keywords: tips, teens, cyberbullying, livestreaming, video, prevention, activities, teach, educate

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Authoritative School Climate: The Next Step in Helping Students Thrive https://cyberbullying.org/authoritative-school-climate https://cyberbullying.org/authoritative-school-climate#respond Tue, 23 Oct 2018 14:43:51 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=21271 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…

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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 one of them, and we’ve worked with so many schools across the nation to help them create environments marked by civility, peer respect, belongingness, and connectedness. Formally, school climate is defined as “quality and character of school life” and “based on patterns of people’s experiences of school life and reflects norms, goals, values, interpersonal relationships, teaching and learning practices, and organizational structures” [1:182]. We wrote a book on this in 2011, and it has become a key focal area for educators in the years since.

Recently, though, I’ve come across what has been called Authoritative School Climate. It is related to a traditional conception of school climate but builds on it. And I believe it can show us the next step we need to take as we refine our efforts to increase morale and promote positive attitudes and behaviors (and attendance, and academic achievement, and so much more!) among the students we care for.

Historical Observations

To begin, let’s first briefly summarize Authoritative Parenting, which planted the seed for this new line of inquiry. Way back in 1968, child development researcher Diana Baumrind articulated a theory which served as the springboard for a tremendous amount of research and practical work involving parenting styles. She believed that there were two major components of parenting: disciplinary structure (also known as control/demandingness) and emotional support (also known as warmth/responsiveness) [2]. And so she created three categories of parenting based on how those components might work together:

Authoritarian Parenting is when you are high on disciplinary structure, but low on emotional support. This is where you run a very tight ship when it comes to rules and expectations, but fail to display enough warmth and care to your kids.

Authoritative Parenting is when you are high on disciplinary structure, and high on emotional support. This is where you run a very tight ship when it comes to rules and expectations, but do so in a loving, supportive, warm environment.

Permissive Parenting is when you are low on disciplinary structure, but high on emotional support. This is where your rules are all over the place and randomly enforced, and where there aren’t clear expectations set, but where you do demonstrate a lot of warmth and care and love.

About twenty years later, Maccoby and Martin [28] offered a fourth style: Neglectful Parenting.

Neglectful Parenting is when you are low on disciplinary structure, and low on emotional support. This is where you lack clear rules and expectations, set and enforce them haphazardly, and also lack warmth, love, and support.

Baumrind’s takeaway was that Authoritative Parenting was the best parenting style, and should be aspired towards in every family [3-5]. That is, the parents should make and require abidance by the rules in the household, set high expectations for youth behavior, and exert a certain amount of control over the major choices their kids make [6]. At the same time, they should do this in a setting marked by unconditional love and support, affection, and meaningful communication.

Decades of research since have largely supported this notion [7-9]. And it has been suggested that these same principles might be applied to school climate [10-12], so Justin and I said to ourselves, “Yeah! Let’s study this!”

Application to Schools

Like the two dimensions of parenting offered by Baumrind, Authoritative School Climate uses generally the same components:

Disciplinary Structure – which has to do with students perceiving school rules as strict, but equitably applied, and;

Student Support – which has to do with students perceiving that their teachers want them to succeed, and will always treat them with respect.

Just like with parenting styles, there can be four styles of a school climate, depending on where the school falls on a continuum from low to high on Disciplinary Structure and Student Support:

Authoritarian School Climate is when you are high on disciplinary structure, but low on student support. This is where you run a very tight ship when it comes to rules and expectations, but fail to display enough warmth and support towards your students.

Authoritative School Climate is when you are high on disciplinary structure, and high on student support. This is where you run a very tight ship when it comes to rules and expectations, but do so in a loving, supportive, warm environment.

Permissive School Climate is when you are low on disciplinary structure, but high on student support. This is where your rules are all over the place and randomly enforced, and where there aren’t clear expectations set, but where you do demonstrate a lot of warmth towards students.

Neglectful School Climate is when you are low on disciplinary structure, and low on student support. This is where you lack clear rules and expectations, and set and enforce them inconsistently, and at the same time fail to demonstrate meaningful warmth and support towards your students.

Even though this subfield is relatively new, there is a growing body of research which says that schools marked by Authoritativeness (high structure, high support) have less bullying and violence [13-17], more positive relationships [18], and improved academic achievement [19, 20]  and truancy and dropout rates [18, 21]. What is more, these factors contribute to increased student engagement [19, 22, 23], which is absolutely critical to youth well-being and thriving communities. I mean, if your students are more engaged at school, isn’t that going to lead to a great environment where morale is higher and where behavioral choices are better [24]? It just makes sense, and is supported by numerous studies [20, 22, 25-27].

However, online behaviors have not yet been examined in this framework. Since the vast majority of our work is at the intersection of teens and technology, I called up Justin and said, “let’s collect some data and look into this!” Our hope was that students who indicated to us that their school was high on disciplinary structure and high on student support (and therefore had an authoritative school climate) would experience less school-based bullying (supporting previous research on the topic) and less cyberbullying (extending the relevance of the theory). If so, we all could start tailoring our school climate initiatives to better reflect the tenets of authoritative school climate, and thereby make better headway in our goals as educators.

Sampling and Measures

First off, our study consisted of a nationally-representative sample of 1,500 students between the ages of 12-17 from across the United States. Apart from using our standard bullying and cyberbullying measures (refined over the last decade, email us if you need a copy), we used the following 21-item scale by Cornell, Shukla, and Konold (2016) to evaluate authoritative school climate. As you look over the measures, you can see the exact questions that students answered.

Disciplinary structure

1. The punishment for breaking school rules is the same for all students.
2. Students at this school only get punished when they deserve it.
3. Students are treated fairly regardless of their race or ethnicity.
4. Students get suspended without good reason (reverse scored).
5. The adults at this school are too strict (reverse scored).
6. The school rules are fair.
7. When students are accused of doing something wrong, they get a chance to explain it.

Student support

1. Most teachers and other adults at this school care about all students.
2. Most teachers and other adults at this school want all students to do well.
3. Most teachers and other adults at this school listen to what students have to say.
4. Most teachers and other adults at this school treat students with respect.
5. There are adults at this school I could talk with if I had a personal problem.
6. If I tell a teacher that someone is bullying me, the teacher will do something to help.
7. I am comfortable asking my teachers for help with my schoolwork.
8. There is at least one teacher or another adult at this school who really wants me to do well.

Findings

As we turn our attention to the results from our analyses, it is clear that an Authoritative School Climate makes a significant difference in inversely affecting the rates of bullying, cyberbullying, skipping school, and feeling unsafe at school.

In our first chart, you can see that bullying and cyberbullying* occurs less often in authoritative schools as compared to the other three types.  Said another way, in schools where disciplinary structure and student support is low, offline and online bullying is much higher. 

(*To be sure, cyberbullying occurs slightly less often in an authoritarian school, but we believe this is because our numbers of kids who reported they cyberbullied someone else were a bit low. We will explore this more deeply in the future.)

authoritative school climate, bullying, cyberbullying

In this second chart, you can see that students are much less likely to skip school because of bullying and cyberbullying if they go to authoritative schools as compared to authoritarian, permissive, or neglectful schools.

authoritative school climate, skipping school

In this third and final chart, we see that students feel the most safe in authoritative schools, as compared to the other three types. 

authoritative school climate, feeling safe at school

Here’s the bottom line: we should build on our general school climate initiatives by prioritizing an authoritative school climate marked by high levels of disciplinary structure and student support and warmth. When we do so, we can reduce bullying and cyberbullying while also improving attendance and feelings of school safety. And if we do, students will be more likely to come to school, connect with others, be more cognitively and emotionally engaged, and thrive.

We look forward to exploring this topic further and fleshing out how we can specifically get more schools to pursue an authoritative school climate in their policies, programming, and practices. Stay tuned and let us know if you are seeing evidence of these findings in your own school!

Image source: https://bit.ly/2q4WZC8

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References

  1. Cohen, J., et al., School climate: Research, policy, practice, and teacher education. Teachers college record, 2009. 111(1): p. 180-213.
  2. Baumrind, D., Authoritarian vs. authoritative parental control. Adolescence, 1968. 3(11): p. 255.
  3. Baumrind, D., Current patterns of parental authority. Developmental psychology, 1971. 4(1p2): p. 1.
  4. Baumrind, D., Rearing competent children. 1989.
  5. Baumrind, D., Effective parenting during the early adolescent transition, in Family transitions, P.A. Cowan and E.M. Hetherington, Editors. 1991, Erlbaum: Hillsdale, NJ. p. 121-140.
  6. Larzelere, R.E., A.S.E. Morris, and A.W. Harrist, Authoritative parenting: Synthesizing nurturance and discipline for optimal child development. 2013: American Psychological Association.
  7. Steinberg, L., et al., Impact of parenting practices on adolescent achievement: Authoritative parenting, school involvement, and encouragement to succeed. Child development, 1992. 63(5): p. 1266-1281.
  8. Steinberg, L., et al., Over‐time changes in adjustment and competence among adolescents from authoritative, authoritarian, indulgent, and neglectful families. Child development, 1994. 65(3): p. 754-770.
  9. Hennan, M.R., et al., The influence of family regulation, connection, and psychological autonomy on six measures of adolescent functioning. Journal of Adolescent Research, 1997. 12(1): p. 34-67.
  10. Wentzel, K.R., Are effective teachers like good parents? Teaching styles and student adjustment in early adolescence. Child development, 2002. 73(1): p. 287-301.
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Connecting Adolescent Suicide to the Severity of Bullying and Cyberbullying https://cyberbullying.org/bullying-suicide-research https://cyberbullying.org/bullying-suicide-research#respond Tue, 16 Oct 2018 15:49:49 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=21264 By Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin While previous studies have identified that school bullying and cyberbullying victimization among adolescents is associated with suicidal thoughts and attempts, no work has measured the severity of bullying incidents and their impact on the youth at school within that context. As such, a survey was distributed to a…

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By Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin

While previous studies have identified that school bullying and cyberbullying victimization among adolescents is associated with suicidal thoughts and attempts, no work has measured the severity of bullying incidents and their impact on the youth at school within that context. As such, a survey was distributed to a representative sample of U.S. youth between the ages of 12 and 17, and students who experienced either school-based or online bullying were significantly more likely to report suicidal thoughts. Students who reported being bullied at school and online were even more likely to report not just suicidal thoughts, but also attempts. Those who were bullied or cyberbullied in a way that affected them at school were also at a higher risk for suicidal thoughts and attempts. We discuss how school communities can provide substantive instructional and emotional support to all teens, particularly with the increased prominence of these issues over the last decade.

Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J. W. (2018). Connecting Adolescent Suicide to the Severity of Bullying and Cyberbullying. Online First in the Journal of School Violence.

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Sextortion Among Adolescents: Results From a National Survey of U.S. Youth https://cyberbullying.org/sextortion-research https://cyberbullying.org/sextortion-research#respond Tue, 16 Oct 2018 14:02:05 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=21260 By Justin W. Patchin and Sameer Hinduja Sextortion is the threatened dissemination of explicit, intimate, or embarrassing images of a sexual nature without consent, usually for the purpose of procuring additional images, sexual acts, money, or something else. Despite increased public interest in this behavior, it has yet to be empirically examined among adolescents. The…

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By Justin W. Patchin and Sameer Hinduja

Sextortion is the threatened dissemination of explicit, intimate, or embarrassing images of a sexual nature without consent, usually for the purpose of procuring additional images, sexual acts, money, or something else. Despite increased public interest in this behavior, it has yet to be empirically examined among adolescents. The current study fills this gap by exploring the prevalence of sextortion behaviors among a nationally representative sample of 5,568 U.S. middle and high school students. Approximately 5% of students reported that they had been the victim of sextortion, while about 3% admitted to threatening others who had shared an image with them in confidence. Males and nonheterosexual youth were more likely to be targeted, and males were more likely to target others. Moreover, youth who threatened others with sextortion were more likely to have been victims themselves. Implications for future research, as well as the preventive role that youth-serving professionals can play, are discussed.

Patchin, J. W. & Hinduja, S. (Forthcoming). Sextortion Among Adolescents: Results from a National Survey of U.S. Youth. Forthcoming in Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment.

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Sextortion Among Adolescents https://cyberbullying.org/sextortion-among-adolescents https://cyberbullying.org/sextortion-among-adolescents#comments Wed, 03 Oct 2018 19:00:50 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=21239 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…

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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 to flash her breasts via a webcam. She trusted him. Unbeknownst to her, he had taken a screen capture of her exposing herself. Not long after, he began threatening Amanda, saying he would distribute the images to her classmates if she did not give him more sexual content. After years of online stalking, public humiliation, and cyberbullying associated with this experience, Amanda hanged herself at home, just a few weeks before her sixteenth birthday.

This incident introduced the world to “sextortion,” which we formally define as the threatened dissemination of explicit, intimate, or embarrassing images of a sexual nature without consent, usually for the purpose of procuring additional images, sexual acts, money, or something else. Most often, a person sends an explicit image to someone voluntarily (usually a romantic partner or interest), and that person threatens to disclose the image to others if some demand isn’t met.

Despite the tragic stories we hear about in the media, there has only been two studies that have examined sextortion. In 2016, researchers from the Brookings Institution searched court records and news stories to find 78 prosecuted criminal cases involving 1,397 known (and untold more unknown) victims of sextortion. The vast majority of victims in these cases were female and every single prosecuted perpetrator was male. Among cases involving only minor victims, social media manipulation or misrepresentation (also known as “catfishing”) was involved in most of the incidents (91%), while hacking of targets’ computers or other devices occurred in 9%.

That same year, Janis Wolak and her colleagues at the University of New Hampshire partnered with the nonprofit Thorn to study sextortion using a sample of adults who responded to Facebook or Twitter ads asking for information from those who had been the victim of sextortion. In total, 1,631 adults responded to the survey; 572 of whom stated that they were 17 years of age or younger at the time they were victimized. Most (three-fifths) of those who had been targeted when they were young knew the perpetrator in real life prior to the incident. Most of the sextortion incidents reported did not occur furtively, for example, through secret recordings, hacking, or the stealing of images and video. Instead, targets tend to voluntarily provide the images to persons they trusted or were tricked into providing them (with promises of, for example, money or a modeling career).

While the Brookings Institution and University of New Hampshire studies were essential first looks into sextortion, many questions remain. In addition, neither of these asked adolescents themselves about their experiences with sextortion. So we did.

We included questions about sextortion in our 2016 national survey of middle and high school students. Results of this research were just published in the journal Sexual Abuse. In short, we found that 5% of 12-17 year-olds had been the victim of sextortion and 3% admitted to sextorting others (2.2% were victims and offenders). Boys were significantly more likely than girls to have participated in sextortion (both as a victim and offender). We didn’t find much of a race or age effect, though students who self-identified as nonheterosexual were significantly more likely to have been the victim of sextortion. Most of the adolescents who were victimized said it was a boyfriend or girlfriend (32%) or other friend in real life (22%). Only about 5% said it was someone they didn’t know very well. Many youth didn’t tell anyone about the incident, though girls were significantly more likely than boys to have told a parent.

Sextortion among adolescents
Even though this is the first study of its kind, we finished it with more questions than answers. While we now have a basic understanding of how many youth experience sextortion (along with who targeted them and who they told), we still don’t know anything about the motivations for the person making the threats. We also don’t know why some youth report it to authorities and others do not. We can speculate that embarrassment or the fear of being labeled a sex offender (in most cases they sent the image voluntarily to begin with, so technically they distributed child pornography) will prevent many from coming forward. We do need to create safe avenues for children who make these mistakes to get them resolved without fear of reputational or criminal reprisal. Hopefully then the incidents will not escalate to the point where youth feel trapped and–like Amanda Todd–view the most extreme response as their only one.

You can read the full paper here. If you have trouble accessing it, just drop us a note and we’ll send you a copy.

Photo by Alvaro Uribe on Unsplash

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Are “Gamers” More Likely to be “Bullies”? https://cyberbullying.org/are-gamers-more-likely-to-be-bullies https://cyberbullying.org/are-gamers-more-likely-to-be-bullies#respond Thu, 20 Sep 2018 14:12:59 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=21211 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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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 Nintendo and, looking back, wonder if my parents worried about the toll it would take on my temperament.

While the games have become more realistic and engaging (addicting?), the nature of the relationship between gameplay and aggression is still hotly debated. On one hand, the American Psychological Association released a statement in 2015 warning of the effects of violent video games. Multiple meta-analyses (Anderson et al., 2010; Sherry, 2001) do suggest a pretty clear connection between violent video games and aggressive behaviors. But critics have questioned methodological decisions and statistical interpretations or pointed out that any effects observed have been relatively small (Ferguson, 2007; Ferguson & Kilburn, 2010; Hilgard et al., 2017). And while there’s been some research showing that those who play violent video games are more likely to engage in bullying (Hamer et al., 2014), other analyses find no such effect (Ferguson et al., 2017). So where does all of this leave us?

What Our Data Show About Gaming and Bullying

To learn more, we included some questions about gaming in a subsample of about 1,500 respondents to our 2016 survey of 12-17-year-olds. Here’s what we found:

Overall, students who self-identified as “gamers” were significantly more likely to have said that they bullied or cyberbullied others during the previous 30 days. Specifically, 21% of gamers and 11% of non-gamers had bullied others at school, while 11% of gamers and 6% of non-gamers said they had cyberbullied others. Interestingly, gamers were also more likely than non-gamers to be the victim of bullying at school (40.7% compared to 27.2%) and bullying online (25.9% compared to 15.7%). So on its face, there seems to be a connection between gaming and bullying.

But if we dig a bit deeper, we can learn more. (In the following, for simplicity I will focus specifically on cyberbullying offending.) In a multivariate regression model controlling for the effects of age, race, and sex, those who identified as gamers were still significantly more likely to report that they had engaged in cyberbullying. But the model only explained about 5% of the variation in cyberbullying offending. So there apparently are many other variables required to explain why someone might participate in cyberbullying.

One such variable might be the type of game. Respondents who favored multiplayer online battle games as well as first- and third-person shooter games were significantly more likely to report participation in cyberbullying than those who preferred other types of games (17% compared to 7%, see Chart 1). There could be something about the game itself, or the kind of kid who likes those types of games, that explains the increased risk of offending.


Another consideration might be the number of hours per week played. Indeed, when number of hours per week played was added to the multivariate regression model, the effect of being a gamer completely disappeared. That is, whether a student was a gamer or not didn’t matter when hours of play was considered. As shown in Chart 2, students who reported playing fewer than two hours per day were significantly less likely than those who played more to have cyberbullied others (15% compared to 7%).

Interestingly, hours of play was also important when it came to the types of games more associated with bullying others (multiplayer battle and first/third person shooter). About 13% of students who favored these types of games who said they played fewer than 2 hours per day said they had cyberbullied others, compared to more than 20% of those who played more hours per day. So limiting the amount of time played, even when the type of game is more violent, could be a potential way to reduce negative outcomes.


I should point out that we did not set out to settle the longstanding debate about video games and violence when we embarked on our 2016 study and therefore our data lack important controls to contribute meaningfully to this discussion (other relevant variables, more comprehensive measures, etc.). We are interested in exploring the relationship between bullying and gaming, and therefore included a couple of basic measures to see what we could learn in this go-around.

It’s also important to point out that we collected these data before the explosion in popularity of Fortnite and Player Unknown: Battlegrounds (PUBG), the two biggest games right now. Fortnite and PUBG could be categorized as multiplayer online battle games (similar to League of Legends, although not team-based), but we don’t know how these newer games (or any specific game for that matter) is related to violence or aggression.

Conclusion

In short, there is more work to be done. My review leads me to believe that there is a connection between gaming and deviance (and bullying behaviors specifically), but that influence is likely relatively small and mediated by many other factors (family, school, personal traits–variables not included in our data). And we still really don’t know whether playing violent video games makes someone more violent or if aggressive youth are just drawn to these types of games. In addition, we can’t forget about the possible positive effects gaming can have. Indeed, recent research has extolled the social, cognitive, and emotional benefits of playing certain games (Granic et al., 2014; Markey et al., 2015). Indeed, a 2014 meta-analysis concluded: “Whereas violent video games increase aggression and aggression-related variables and decrease prosocial outcomes, prosocial video games have the opposite effects.” (Greitemeyer & Mugge, 2014, p. 578).

The immediate take away from my exploratory analysis is: take a look at what kind of game your child is playing, and make sure they aren’t playing it so much that it interferes with other family and school responsibilities. Better yet, get in there and play with them. That way you can address any problems that might come up in the game. You can also have meaningful conversations with your child over the course of hours of gameplay.

By the way, harkening back to my “gamer” days, I do vividly remember skipping school one day to finish the original Legend of Zelda game. So even though gaming did lead to a bit of deviance for me, it didn’t derail my future like some might have predicted. And yesterday I stumbled across a new puzzle game on my phone that occupied more time than I feel comfortable admitting. So I guess we never really shake our gamer tendencies. I’ve intentionally avoided playing the newer generation of multiplayer online games precisely because I know I could easily get wrapped up in them. I am happy to admit, however, that I still occasionally play Mario Kart with my eight-year-old. And we both have a good time.

Final note: The title of this post is intentionally provocative. I generally try to avoid labeling people, especially youth. Referring to someone as a “bully”—or even a “gamer”—can have unintended negative consequences. I’m not even sure what makes someone a “gamer.” In our survey we asked students to tell us if they would consider themselves a gamer, for this very reason. If they identify as a gamer, they must be.

Image: ABC Illawarra – Rory McDonald

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Bullying, Cyberbullying, and Suicide Among US Youth: Our Updated Research Findings https://cyberbullying.org/bullying-cyberbullying-suicide-among-us-youth https://cyberbullying.org/bullying-cyberbullying-suicide-among-us-youth#comments Mon, 27 Aug 2018 17:42:36 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=21126 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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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 different states who have taken their life in part due to peer harassment and cruelty offline and/or online. And almost every time I visit different school communities, this topic comes up in conversation. Even though it is such a heavy and tragic subject, it has seemed to galvanize adults in their efforts to care even more about youth as they navigate the challenges of adolescence these days.

Very recently, we received word that our latest paper on the topic – entitled “Connecting Adolescent Suicide to the Severity of School Bullying and Cyberbullying” was published in the Journal of School Violence (Impact Factor 2.721). You can access it here; reach out if you have trouble obtaining it.

For those who don’t want to read the article, or who simply want a summary, I thought I’d share a bit about the piece below.  I have italicized the most important points. If you have any questions, just ask and I can clarify or expand upon anything.

Data

Our data for the study came from a survey administered to a nationally-representative sample of English-speaking 12 to 17-year-old middle and high school students across the United States (mean age = 14.5). Our final sample of 2,670 was evenly divided by sex (49.9% female, 49.6% male) and comparable to the population of middle and high school students in the U.S. by race (66% of the sample is White/Caucasian, 12% is Black/African American, 11.9% is Hispanic/Latin American, and 10% were another race).

Measures

Two dependent variables were utilized in this study. The first, suicidal ideation, included four items adapted from the American School Health Association’s (1989) National Adolescent Student Health Survey.

They included:
[in the past year, have you]
(1) felt so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more in a row that you stopped doing some usual activities;
(2) seriously thought about attempting suicide;
(3) made a specific plan about how you would attempt suicide; and
(4) seriously attempted suicide.

In addition to suicidal ideation, we also wanted to focus on the subset of students who have engaged in suicide attempts.

We also used two measures of bullying: one for school bullying and another for cyberbullying. School bullying represented the student’s experience in the previous 30 days as a victim of ten different forms of school bullying. The measure included a variety of behaviors representing relatively minor and common forms of bullying (“I was called mean names”) to more serious and less common forms (“I was threatened with a weapon”).

Cyberbullying represented the student’s experience in the previous 30 days as a victim of eleven different forms of cyberbullying. This measure also included a variety of behaviors (“Someone posted mean or hurtful comments about me online”; “Someone threatened to hurt me while online.”).

Finally, to explore the importance of the magnitude (or relative seriousness) of the bullying experience, we included four single-item indicators (two each for school bullying and cyberbullying) that assessed the student’s view of how serious the bullying incident was. We first asked students who reported that they had been bullied (at school or online) to rate on a scale of 0 to 10 their overall experience with school bullying and cyberbullying during the last 30 days, with 0 meaning they were not bothered at all and 10 meaning they were really hurt and bothered. Next, we asked students whether they had been bullied or cyberbullied in a way that “really affected their ability to learn and feel safe at school.”

Findings

Across our sample, 16.1% of students experienced suicidal ideation (16.7% of females; 15.3% of males) while 2.1% reported they had attempted suicide (2.2% of females; 2.0% of males). Even though females have a markedly higher incidence rate of suicidal ideation than males during adolescence, major gender disparities were not found in our work.

With regard to school bullying, prevalence rates for individual behaviors ranged from 8.3% to 50.9%. Older students were generally more likely to report suicidal ideation and to have attempted suicide, while white students were more likely to have attempted suicide.

We then examined the relationship between school bullying and cyberbullying on suicidal ideation. Students who experienced only school bullying or only cyberbullying were about 1.6x significantly more likely (for each) to report suicidal ideation. Students who experienced both forms of bullying, however, were more than 5x as likely to report suicidal ideation compared to those who had not been bullied or cyberbullied.

Interestingly, those who experienced only school bullying or only cyberbullying were at no greater risk for attempted suicide, while those who experienced both forms of bullying were more than 11 times as likely to attempt suicide compared to those who had not been bullied.

Finally, we looked at the impact of serious bullying on suicidal thoughts and attempts among subsamples of those who had been bullied only at school or only online. As expected, even among those who had been bullied, the more serious incidents of bullying or cyberbullying all had a significant and positive association with suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. Specifically, students who ranked their experience with school bullying or cyberbullying as 6 or higher on a scale that ranged from 0 to 10, or indicated that the experience seriously affected them at school, were more than 3x as likely to report suicidal ideation compared to those who had relatively less serious experiences with school bullying and cyberbullying.

Finally, students who reported that their experience with school bullying or cyberbullying affected them at school were at the highest risk for suicidal ideation and attempted suicide.

Main Takeaways

In line with findings from previous studies, middle and high school students who experienced either school-based or online bullying were significantly more likely to report suicidal ideation. Contrary to the relatively consistent finding in the limited research base that cyberbullying victimization is more strongly tied to suicidal ideation and attempts than school bullying, we found a stronger relationship with the latter. That said, experiencing both forms of bullying compounds the negative effects and greatly increases the likelihood of suicidal ideation among adolescents.

When it comes to suicidal attempts, our research did not find a significant association with school-based or online bullying by themselves – contrary to findings from previous studies. However, experiencing both together was linked to an exponentially higher likelihood of trying to take one’s own life. Perhaps some students can manage the emotional and psychological harm associated with a limited amount of victimization in one environment or the other, but are seemingly much less so able when the impact is amplified through its occurrence and persistence both at school and online.

This point is supported by the relationship between the severity of incidents and suicidal ideation and attempts. Those adolescents who rated their victimization as more severe (in terms of a general evaluation of how much they were hurt and bothered, as well as its specific impact on their feelings of safety at school and their ability to learn) were much more likely to report suicidal thoughts (more than three times as likely) and attempts (from twice as likely for serious cyberbullying to more than ten times as likely for school-based bullying), compared to those who experienced milder forms of bullying.

Collectively, these findings bear out the very tangible impact that bullying can have on the mental health of youth today, especially if multiple forms combine and are magnified to plague a student in pointedly negative ways.

Policy Implications

At the end of our paper, we discussed the importance of suicide prevention programs, anonymous reporting systems, and the availability of educators at school to meaningfully care about and support students who might be struggling. We also strongly believe that any prevention programming will be incomplete if only championed and led by school personnel. Students themselves must realize that their individual and collective voice is powerful, and that they should press past their hesitations and fears and use it to: raise awareness; set (or reset) appropriate social norms and considerations around bullying and suicide; promote vulnerability, acceptance, tolerance, and kindness; and collectively stand against hate and harassment of all forms.

To make this happen, educators would do well to supplement their formal schoolwide efforts by repeatedly reminding the student body that they need to come through for their classmates with intentionality by encouraging, defending, supporting, and rallying to their aid as necessary. If this messaging is part of the culture on campus, targeted youth may more readily seek support from their peer group, and nontargeted youth may look for opportunities to come through for those struggling because doing so has been institutionalized as normative in that environment.

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Standing up to Cyberbullying: Top Ten Tips for Teens https://cyberbullying.org/standing-up-to-cyberbullying-tips-for-teens https://cyberbullying.org/standing-up-to-cyberbullying-tips-for-teens#respond Mon, 23 Jul 2018 16:25:34 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=21095 By Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin (For a formatted .pdf version of this article for distribution, click on the image above [or click here]). Don’t be a bystander—stand up to cyberbullying when you see it. Take action to stop something that you know is wrong. These Top Ten Tips will give you specific ideas…

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By Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin
(For a formatted .pdf version of this article for distribution, click on the image above [or click here]).

Don’t be a bystander—stand up to cyberbullying when you see it. Take action to stop something that you know is wrong. These Top Ten Tips will give you specific ideas of what you can do when you witness cyberbullying.

1. REPORT TO SCHOOL. If the person being cyberbullied is someone from your school, report it to your school. Many have anonymous reporting systems to allow you to let them know what you are seeing without disclosing your identity.
2. COLLECT EVIDENCE. Take a screenshot, save the image or message, or screen-record what you see. It will be easier for an adult to help if they can see—and have proof of—exactly what was being said.
3. REPORT TO SITE/APP/GAME. All reputable online environments prohibit cyberbullying and provide easy tools to report violations. Don’t hesitate to report; those sites/apps will protect your identity and not “out” you.
4. TALK TO A TRUSTED ADULT. Develop relationships with adults you can trust and count on to help when you (or a friend) experience something negative online. This could be a parent, teacher, counselor, coach, or family friend.
5. DEMONSTRATE CARE. Show the person being cyberbullied that they are not alone. Send them an encouraging text or snap. Take them aside at school and let them know that you have their back.
6. WORK TOGETHER. Gather your other friends and organize a full-court press of positivity. Post kind comments on their wall or under a photo they’ve posted. Encourage others to help report the harm. There is strength in numbers.
7. TELL THEM TO STOP. If you know the person who is doing the cyberbullying, tell them to knock it off. Explain that it’s not cool to be a jerk to others. But say something—if you remain silent, you are basically telling them that it is ok to do it.
8. DON’T ENCOURAGE IT. If you see cyberbullying happening, don’t support it in any way. Don’t forward it, don’t add emojis in the comments, don’t gossip about it with your friends, and don’t stand on the sidelines.
9. STAY SAFE. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way. When your emotions are running high, resist posting something that may escalate the situation. Don’t hang out online where most people are cruel. Never physically threaten others.
10. DON’T GIVE UP. Think creatively about what can be done to stop cyberbullying. Brainstorm with others and use everyone’s talents to do something epic!

Citation information: Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J. W. (2018). Standing up to Cyberbullying: Top Ten Tips for Teens. Cyberbullying Research Center. Retrieved (insert date), from https://cyberbullying.org/standing-up-to-cyberbullying-tips-for-teens.pdf

Keywords: tips, teens, cyberbullying, bystanders, upstanders, prevention, activities, teach, educate

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Teen Sexting: A Brief Guide for Educators and Parents https://cyberbullying.org/sexting-a-brief-guide-for-educators-and-parents https://cyberbullying.org/sexting-a-brief-guide-for-educators-and-parents#comments Mon, 23 Jul 2018 08:22:21 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=811 By Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin This research summary reviews what is currently known about teen sexting. Research from across the United States is discussed, along with practical solutions for parents, educators, and other adults to prevent and respond to teen sexting. Citation information: Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J. W. (2018). Sexting – A…

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By Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin

This research summary reviews what is currently known about teen sexting. Research from across the United States is discussed, along with practical solutions for parents, educators, and other adults to prevent and respond to teen sexting.

Citation information: Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J. W. (2018). Sexting – A Brief Guide for Educators and Parents. Cyberbullying Research Center. Retrieved (insert date), from https://cyberbullying.org/sexting-research-summary.pdf

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Keywords: teen sexting, prevention, response, explicit images

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International Journal of Bullying Prevention https://cyberbullying.org/international-journal-for-bullying-prevention https://cyberbullying.org/international-journal-for-bullying-prevention#comments Mon, 09 Jul 2018 14:23:55 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=21015 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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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 health professionals, and whoever else might read our work with the knowledge and strategies they need to help the populations they serve. Justin and I have been doing this for more than fifteen years now, and have read research on bullying and cyberbullying stemming from an incredible range of disciplines: child, adolescent, and school psychology; public health; social work and counseling; criminology; child and adolescent psychiatry; human resource management; sociology; anthropology; education; pediatrics; information technology; and other associated fields within social or computer science.

It is really hard to know where to submit one’s scholarly work on bullying and cyberbullying for publication. In addition, I believe that spreading research so widely and disparately may contribute to gaps in what is known. For example, if I’m trained in criminology and stay within that disciplinary silo because it’s comfortable – only focusing on the relationship between crime theories and bullying, my understanding of the phenomenon will remain limited. If I’m trained in computer science and stay in that “lane” without ever branching out, I miss out on learning how social scientists or clinicians are tackling the problem behavior. As such, I’ve always thought that there should be a singular journal specifically devoted to bullying prevention, where articles are published across multiple disciplines and research is conducted from both converging and diverging perspectives.

So, after almost two years of proposals, submissions, discussions, and other/general hard work, I am thrilled to announce the launch of the International Journal for Bullying Prevention (IJBP), to be published by Springer. Publishers are extremely hesitant to create new topical journals because of fear of cannibalization from their other journals. However, Springer realized the gap that exists among other journals where issues related to bullying prevention are not given a specific focus in scholarship.

IJBP will provide an interdisciplinary scholarly forum in which to publish current research on the causes, forms, and multiple contexts of bullying, as well as evolving best practices in identification, prevention, and intervention. The journal welcomes empirical, theoretical and review papers on a large variety of issues, populations, and domains. Since everyone wants to know what to do and what not to do, we also require authors to include meaningful relevant discussion on policy and actionable practice in schools, universities, communities, the workplace, and/or online.

To provide a little more specificity, we expect to receive papers on the following topics:

  • Identification of important correlates, predictors, and outcome variables specific to bullying and cyberbullying
  • Effective school- and community-based youth bullying prevention and interventions
  • Effective workplace-based bullying prevention and interventions
  • Effective cyberbullying prevention and interventions
  • Methods for measuring key constructs in bullying prevention for use as prescriptive, descriptive, or outcome variables
  • Evaluation of mediators and moderators of response to prevention and intervention methods
  • Evaluation of outcomes of bullying prevention policy and programming
  • Development and early evaluation of bullying interventions and preventions and treatment strategies
  • Evaluation of web-based or app-specific cognitive and behavioral interventions to reduce bullying and cyberbullying
  • Cross-cultural research on aggressors, targets, and interventions related to bullying and cyberbullying
  • Meta-analyses
  • Dissemination, training, and fidelity issues in bullying and cyberbullying prevention, interventions, and treatment techniques
  • Reviews of these topics that summarize and coalesce findings to inform next steps in research and practice

There continues to be growing interest in the public sphere for strategies and solutions as well as a growing number of professionals who care deeply about helping those who are bullied and cyberbullied. As we feature quality research and its implications for policy and programming in schools, communities, workplaces, and online, we hope to significantly move the needle forward in this field.

The journal will be the official scholarly publication of the International Bullying Prevention Association (IBPA), the premier global membership organization dedicated to advancing bullying prevention best practices. Members of the IBPA will receive access to the journal as part of their IBPA membership. As Co-Founders, myself and Dr. James O’Higgins Norman will serve as Editors-in-Chief as we get the journal off the ground with our first issue slated for March 2019. It will be published four times a year with 5-6 articles in each issue.

We would love for you to consider IJBP as your “go-to” outlet for papers you write in any of the aforementioned areas. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out! Honestly, we believe that this is part of our legacy and will serve as a significant contribution to the field, outliving us and affecting for generations to come the way we promote civility, kindness, tolerance, and peer respect in all interpersonal interactions.

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