By Craig Gilman
Faculty Member, American Military University
While October has been designated National Bullying Prevention Month, daily vigilance is imperative to assure the safety and well-being of our youth. It is important to note that bullying can take place at any age and in any environment, including school, work and community. However, the younger the victim, the less likely one will be able to recognize and cope with bullying. Bullying in youth is serious and can lead to depression and even suicide.
There are two sources of federally collected data on youth bullying:
- The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) indicates that, nationwide, 20% of students in grades 9—12 experienced bullying.
- The 2008—2009 School Crime Supplement (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics) indicates that, nationwide, 28% of students in grades 6—12 experienced bullying.
The three major indicators of bullying are well-known and include: aggressive behavior (either physical or relational/verbal) that is repeated over time and involves a real or perceived imbalance of power or strength. The CDC provides a free Understanding Bullying Factsheet (2012).
While traditionally, bullying has been identified as occurring in schools, playgrounds, and other areas where youth gather, as more and younger children acquire networked, electronic devices, such as cellphones, tablets, and home computers, the incidences of cyberbullying have been on the increase.
Stopbullying.gov, a great first destination for anyone wanting to learn about bullying, defines cyberbullying as bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites. For more information regarding what constitutes bullying, who is at risk, and preventing bullying, visit their website.
While historically bullying has normally been restricted to physical places and times when children gather, cyberbullying can take place 24/7, can be perpetuated anonymously and quickly from anywhere to a wide audience, and is extremely difficult to retract, once posted or sent.
Research on cyberbullying is growing. However, because kids’ technology use changes rapidly, it is difficult to design surveys that accurately capture trends. The 2008—2009 School Crime Supplement (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics) indicates that 6% of students in grades 6—12 experienced cyberbullying. The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey finds that 16% of high school students (grades 9-12) were electronically bullied in the past year.
The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (DCD), Division of Violence Prevention describes bullying in school-age children as a major public health problem both domestically and internationally. For parents, educators and other professionals working with youth, they provide free access to a number of peer-reviewed surveys, including a Cyberbullying and Online Aggression Survey via their 2011 publication: Measuring Bullying Victimization, Perpetration, and Bystander Experiences: A Compendium of Assessment Tools.
As a prior secondary, social studies teacher, and current online adjunct, I constantly monitor my classrooms and professional social media sites for signs of bullying. Working for American Public University System, a 100% online university, we recognize that cyber bullying is a problem and want to do our part in promoting awareness and sharing resources to help prevent it.
This all leads up to the main event on Friday, October 25; at 11:00 am, we’re asking everyone to take one minute out of their day to STAND UP at their desk, at home, or wherever they may be, to show that they are STANDING UP against cyberbullying. Please RSVP to our Facebook event and share the resources to come with your pages, networks, and friends.