Harmful Effects of Bullying: A Perspective on Protected Groups
Last Tuesday I blogged about how to combat bullying, the first of a two-part blog on this important issue affecting society. In today's blog I look at bullying against various groups of people including tweens, students with disabilities, students of color, and students who identify as LGBTQIA+. The following statistics set the stage for the discussion.
Cyberbullying Among Tweens (9-12 Years Old)
- One in five tweens (20.9%) has been cyberbullied, cyberbullied others, or seen cyberbullying
- 8% of tweens said they experienced bullying at school and 14.5% of tweens shared they experienced bullying online
- 13% of tweens reported experiencing bullying at school and online, while only 1% reported being bullied solely online
- Nine out of ten tweens use social media or gaming apps (Patchin & Hinduja, 2020)
- Tweens shared they were engaging on the following sites, apps, or games: YouTube, Minecraft, Roblox, Google Classroom, Fortnite, TikTok, YouTube Kids, Snapchat, Facebook Messenger Kids, Instagram, Discord, Facebook, and Twitch
- Tweens who were cyberbullied shared that it negatively impacted their feelings about themselves (69.1%), their friendships (31.9%), their physical health (13.1%), and their schoolwork (6.5%)
- Tweens reported using a variety of strategies to stop the bullying including blocking the person bullying them (60.2%), telling a parent (50.8%), ignoring the person (42.8%), reporting it to the website or app (29.8%), and taking a break from the device (29.6%)
- Two-thirds of tweens are willing to step in to defend, support, or assist those being bullied at school and online when they see it
- Barriers to helping when tweens witness bullying at school or online included being afraid of making things worse, not knowing what to do or say, not knowing how to report it online, being afraid others kids will make fun of them, being afraid to get hurt, and not knowing who to tell
SOURCE: Patchin, J.W., & Hinduja, S. (2020). Tween Cyberbullying in 2020. Cyberbullying Research Center and Cartoon Network. Retrieved from: https://i.cartoonnetwork.com/stop-bullying/pdfs/CN_Stop_Bullying_Cyber_Bullying_Report_9.30.20.pdf.
Bullying of Students with Disabilities
- Students with specific learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, emotional and behavior disorders, other health impairments, and speech or language impairments report greater rates of victimization than their peers without disabilities longitudinally and their victimization remains consistent over time (Rose & Gage, 2016 )
- When assessing specific types of disabilities, prevalence rates differ: 35.3% of students with behavioral and emotional disorders, 33.9% of students with autism, 24.3% of students with intellectual disabilities, 20.8% of students with health impairments, and 19% of students with specific learning disabilities face high levels of bullying victimization (Rose & Espelage, 2012 )
- Researchers discovered that students with disabilities were more worried about school safety and being injured or harassed by other peers compared to students without a disability (Saylor & Leach, 2009 )
- When reporting bullying youth in special education were told not to tattle almost twice as often as youth not in special education (Davis & Nixon, 2010)
- Successful strategies to prevent bullying among students with disabilities include (Rose & Monda-Amaya, 2012):
- Teachers and peers engaging in meaningful and appropriate social interactions
- Creating opportunities to increase social competence and positive interactions
- Schools adopting appropriate intervention strategies that encourage social awareness and provide individualized interventions for targets with disabilities
Bullying of Students of Color
- 23% of African-American students, 23% of Caucasian students, 16% of Hispanic students, and 7% of Asian students report being bullied at school (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019)
- More than one third of adolescents reporting bullying report bias-based school bullying (Russell, Sinclair, Poteat, & Koenig, 2012 )
- Bias-based bullying is more strongly associated with compromised health than general bullying (Russell et al., 2012 )
- Race-related bullying is significantly associated with negative emotional and physical health effects (Rosenthal et al, 2013 )
- 1% of LGBTQ students were verbally bullied (e.g., called names, threatened) in the past year because of their sexual orientation and 59.1% because of their gender expression, and 53.2% based on gender (Kosciw, Greytak, Zongrone, Clark, & Truong, 2018)
- 9% of LGBTQ students were physically bullied (e.g., pushed, shoved) in the past year because of their sexual orientation and 24.4% because of their gender expression, and 22.8% based on gender (Kosciw et al., 2018)
- 7% of LGBTQ students experienced cyberbullying in the past year (Kosciw et al., 2018)
- 5% of LGBTQ students feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, 44.6% because of their gender expression, and 35% because of their gender (Kosciw et al., 2018)
- 8% of LGBTQ students missed at least one entire day at school in the past month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable, and 10.5% missed four or more days in the past month (Kosciw et al., 2018)
- Of the LGBTQ students who reported they were considering dropping out of school, 42.2% indicated they were doing so because of the harassment they faced at school (Kosciw et al., 2018)
- Compared to LGBTQ students with no supportive school staff, students with many (11 or more) supportive staff at school were less likely to miss school because they felt unsafe (20.1% to 48.8%) and felt greater belonging to their school community (Kosciw et al., 2018)
- LGBTQ students experienced a safe, more positive school environment when their school had a bullying prevention / anti-harassment policy that specifically included protections on sexual orientation and gender identity / expression (Kosciw et al., 2018)
- Peer victimization of all youth was less likely to occur in schools with bullying policies that are inclusive of LGBTQ students (Hatzenbuehler & Keyes, 2013 )
Bullying and Suicide
- There is a strong association between bullying and suicide-related behaviors, but this relationship is often mediated by other factors, including depression, violent behavior, and substance abuse (Reed, Nugent, & Cooper, 2015 )
- Students who report frequently bullying others and students who report being frequently bullied are at increased risk for suicide-related behavior (Centers for Disease Control, 2014)
- A meta-analysis found that students facing peer victimization are 2.2 times more likely to have suicide ideation and 2.6 times more likely to attempt suicide than students not facing victimization (Gini & Espelage, 2014 )
- Students who are both bullied and engage in bullying behavior are the highest risk group for adverse outcomes (Espelage & Holt, 2013)
- The false notion that suicide is a natural response to being bullied has the dangerous potential to normalize the response and thus create copycat behavior among youth (Centers for Disease Control, 2014).
- Bullied youth were most likely to report that actions that accessed support from others made a positive difference (Davis & Nixon, 2010)
- Actions aimed at changing the behavior of the bullying youth (fighting, getting back at them, telling them to stop, etc.) were rated as more likely to make things worse (Davis & Nixon, 2010)
- Students reported that the most helpful things teachers can do are: listen to the student, check in with them afterwards to see if the bullying stopped, and give the student advice (Davis & Nixon, 2010)
- Students reported that the most harmful things teachers can do are: tell the student to solve the problem themselves, tell the student that the bullying wouldn’t happen if they acted differently, ignored what was going on, or tell the student to stop tattling (Davis & Nixon, 2010)
- As reported by students who have been bullied, the self-actions that had some of the most negative impacts (telling the person to stop/how I feel, walking away, pretending it doesn’t bother me) are often used by youth and often recommended to youth (Davis & Nixon, 2010)
- Tweens reported using a variety of strategies to stop the bullying including blocking the person bullying them (60.2%), telling a parent (50.8%), ignoring the person (42.8%), reporting it to the website or app (29.8%), and taking a break from the device (29.6%) (Patchin & Hinduja, 2020).
- Students need not be the targets of bullying to experience negative outcomes. Observing bullying is associated with adverse mental health outcomes (Rivers, Poteat, Noret, & Ashurst, 2009 )
- Bystanders’ beliefs in their social self-efficacy were positively associated with defending behavior and negatively associated with passive behavior from bystanders – i.e. if students believe they can make a difference, they’re more likely to act (Thornberg et al., 2012 )
- Students who experience bullying report that allying and supportive actions from their peers (such as spending time with the student, talking to him/her, helping him/her get away, or giving advice) were the most helpful actions from bystanders (Davis & Nixon, 2010)
- Students who experience bullying are more likely to find peer actions helpful than educator or self-actions (Davis & Nixon, 2010)
- The Youth Voice Research Project (2010) found that victimized students reported the following bystander strategies that made things better: spent time with me (54%), talked to me (51%), helped me get away (49%), called me (47%), gave me advice (46%), helped me tell (44%), distracted me (43%), listened to me (41%), told an adult (35%), confronted them (29%), asked them to stop
- Even students who have observed but not participated in bullying behavior report significantly more feelings of helplessness and less sense of connectedness and support from responsible adults than students who have not witnessed bullying behavior (Centers for Disease Control, 2014)
- Two-thirds of tweens are willing to step in to defend, support, or assist those being bullied at school and online when they see it (Patchin & Hinduja, 2020).
- Barriers to helping when tweens witness bullying at school or online included being afraid of making things worse, not knowing what to do or say, not knowing how to report it online, being afraid others kids will make fun of them, being afraid to get hurt, and not knowing who to tell (Patchin & Hinduja, 2020).
As you can see, bullying is a complex issue and I've only touched the surface with my two blogs. If you are a parent of a youngster who is being bullied, I strongly recommend this resource from the Committee for Children.
Steve has written a book on "Happiness and Meaning" and how it ties to "Ethical Behavior." It provides resources that parents can use to teach their kids about bullying and cyberbullying.
Blog posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, The Ethics Sage, on April 26, 2022. You can sign up for his newsletter and learn more about his activities at: https://www.stevenmintzethics.com/. Follow him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/StevenMintzEthics and on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ethicssage.