New research from the National Institutes of Health found depression is high among victims of school cyber bullying.Unlike traditional forms of bullying, kids who are the targets of cyber bullying at school are at a higher risk for depression than are the youth who bully them, according to the study.
The results are in contrast to previous studies on traditional bullying that found the highest depression rates were among bully-victims — those who both bully others and are bullied themselves, 6News’ Renee Jameson reported.
Victims of cyber bullies may also feel more helpless and isolated at the time of the attack, experts said.
“Not only can you rally more troops to promote social isolation or to spread an unkind rumor about somebody using a text message on your cellular phone, but you can also do it much more quickly and do it repeatedly, and you can do it as often as you want,” said Vaughn Rickert with the Indiana University School of Medicine.
Center Grove Schools Police Chief Bill Spitler said he’s well aware of the problems cyber bullying can cause.
“When you start talking about people’s self-esteem and how the kids feel about themselves, really, at the core of everything, that’s all we all have is how we imagine what ourselves look like, what we feel about ourselves,” he said.
Sptiler talked to all middle school students in his district this year about the dangers and ramifications of cyber bullying.
“Technology makes it more difficult, and kids need to understand that it’s not OK. But, it is a way of doing it, and it’s kind of secretive,” Spitler said.
The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration advises parents to encourage children to tell them right away if they are victims.
Experts also advise parents to talk to their children about what’s happening in school and to contact a teacher, principal or the school superintendent if there is a problem.