Research shows some teens are cyberbullying themselves [WQOW, by Claire Sarafin, October 2017]

WQOW – Cyberbullying isn’t a new problem, but a local social media expert told News 18 new research shows some teens are actually bullying themselves online.

Doctor Justin Patchin, a professor at UWEC, and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center, said his research is the first of its kind, and just the tip of the iceberg.

He was turned on to the idea when he heard about a 14-year-old girl in England who took her own life after sending hateful messages to herself.

Patchin, and his partner, surveyed nearly 6,000 middle and high school students across the country, and asked them about participating in digital self-harm, and their motivations behind it.

He was shocked to learn that six percent of teens who responded to the survey reported they had anonymously posted something online about themselves that was mean. Some even went as far as posting threats against themselves.

So why are teens doing this? Patchin told News 18 there’s no one good reason.

“We commonly saw responses of they were looking for attention, they wanted to see if their friends would respond, or intervene, on their behalf,” Patchin said. “Some just said they were making a joke, or trying to be funny. A significant amount said they were trying to see if anyone would respond in a positive way to reach out.”

Another reason Patchin said someone might cyberbully themselves is to call attention to an actual bully they’re dealing with, maybe in a more private place than Facebook or Twitter.

Some more surprising information, Patchin said significantly more males than females reported sending or posting harmful messages about themselves.

He said regardless of who’s writing the post, the victim of a bully always needs support.

If you, or someone you love, is being bullied, you can find Patchin’s resources here.