Cyberbullying Has Very Tenuous Link to Suicide, says Study

Hi Readers — As you know, I don’t jump on every study that comes along (in part because that would require an inordinate amount of jumping). But this one, out today, I found interesting: Cyberbullying syedatheit
Only Rarely the Sole Factor Identified in Teen Suicides.

You can figure out the topic from the title, obviously, but you may be wondering: How is this relevant to Free-Range Kids? The answer is not that we are here to endorse cyberbullying. (Surprise!) It’s that in the past year or two, the cyberbullying-suicide connection has achieved almost “stranger-danger” status:  a very rare but very awful thing so  focused on in the media and the schools that it starts to seem common. And if it really WERE common, of course it would warrant us worrying about our kids’ safety and sanity all the time,  and instituting drastic safeguards.

When we react that way to unlikely dangers (not NON-EXISTENT dangers, just unlikely ones), we change childhood. We treat kids as if they were exceedingly vulnerable, and technology as if it were inherently evil. We assume the burden of constantly protecting our kids, rather than letting them, for the most part, work things out themselves. We fear that too much is on the line to give them any leash at all. We swoop in.

Swooping has become the order of the day when it comes to everything from making friends to choosing snacks to allowing our kids to get themselves to school. So when along comes official word that there is one big-time kid-safety issue that is actually LESS fraught than we’d been told, that’s reason to exhale.

Which is what I’m doing right now. Not saying, “Everything is perfect.” Just….exhaling. – L.

Maybe this isn’t the same as a loaded gun.

47 Responses to Cyberbullying Has Very Tenuous Link to Suicide, says Study

  1. Yan Seiner October 22, 2012 at 1:50 am #

    How about this?

    (Sorry, the man behind the curtain doesn’t allow more than one link per post….)

    Anyway, the new “crime” is to add “cyber” and we all run from the bogey man.

    How about cybersex? Cyberbullying? Cyber crime…. Ooooh. (Sorry, I’m a bit ornery tonight.)

  2. Sebal Mom October 22, 2012 at 2:03 am #

    Focusing on the bully in situations like Amanda Todd case only draw us away from the REAL problem in society – mental health and youth. I agree whole heartedly with this opinion in the Toronto Star-–amanda-todd-s-death-was-more-about-mental-health-than-bullying

    Parents, teachers, health care professional and other people engaged with youth need to realize how very common this problem is for young people and familiarize themselves with the signs and symptoms of depression. Suicide is the SECOND cause of death in youth between the ages of 15 to 19 in Canada and the stats in the States are likely similar. Getting these young people medical help as soon as possible and preventing this type of outcome is key. Bully’s prey on the weak.

  3. Yan Seiner October 22, 2012 at 2:22 am #

    Not to make light of a tragic situation…. I agree with the above post. The best protection for kids, by far, is involved parents. Not helicopter parents, but involved parents. Non-judgemental parents. Parents who trust their kids, teach them how to solve problems, and then let them exercise that judgement.

    Just like any muscle, judgement must be exercised. Problem solving must be practiced on small problems before it’s able to deal with big ones.

    Now that’s not to say that there aren’t sick people who enjoy tormenting others. But a kid who can make decisions, who is confident in their decision making, is less likely to be the victim; they are more likely to solve the problem.

  4. AW13 October 22, 2012 at 2:27 am #

    I had always assumed that cyberbullying, when it takes place, is in conjunction with some sort of physical counterpart (i.e., being bullied in person at school or at work, etc.). Was that not the message I was meant to be getting? I mean, how effective would it be to only bully someone online? Who would pay any attention to an anonymous, online bully? Heck, that happens in the comments section of almost any given article on any given day.

    This is not to downplay bullying. I had students who suffered greatly at the hands of bullies. But in my experiences, the bullies need to be known to you, and there needs to be some sort of real world interaction – or the viability of it – for the bully to be intimidating. That’s why I’d always assumed that, in cases of suicide, cyberbullying was only part of the package.

  5. Warren October 22, 2012 at 2:31 am #

    The Amanda Todd case is horrible, the thought of a child taking their own life, for whatever reason, is a kick to the gut.
    Unfortunately the media, and activist groups are taking this case to new levels, and it is dangerous. They are making her their poster child, and she is gaining fame and glory. I am fearful that kids/teens that are borderline right now, between seeking help and taking their own lives will see this, the attention and make it their choice to go out in style. Be the center of everyones sympathy.

    In other forums, I have been screamed at because I have taken the unpopular stance.
    Wondering just where Amanda’s parents were. Her bullying went on for years, in person and online. It started with her willing exposing herself via webcam, and her topless pic was used against her. With all this going on, why the hell was she still online?
    Her video, looking for someone to save her? Again, online. This poor girl had alot more going on than just bullying.

    And if the media, and groups want figure heads, and a posterchild then pick a kid that was bullied, dealt with it, and moved on to a good life. Sorry but it is, always has been and always will be the cowards way out, to take your own life. I know, there are numerous mental and emotional illnesses that can make a person suicidal. Bullying is something you deal with, not kill over, be it yourself or others.
    This poor girl needed help, and no one was there for her. Parents, family, and friends you have my deepest sympathy for your lose, but please take a good hard look in the mirror, before it happens again.

  6. Jynet October 22, 2012 at 2:54 am #

    Slightly off topic:
    I’m glad the Amanda Todd case came to light, but I am tired of it being called “cyber bullying”. It is child sexual exploitation. The man who took the video of the chat was a child pornographer, and the people who forwarded were distributors.

    It doesn’t matter that she “willingly” showed her breasts online. Any more that it would matter if she had “willingly” shown them at a party or in private to an adult male. (And willingly is in quotes, because to a vulnerable 12 year old, truly making that choice was likely beyond her)

    And yes, I know that some of the forwarders were children. And yes, I do believe that there should be a difference between a boyfriend sharing a sexy pic of his underage girl friend and a grown pervert sharing/selling pictures of a young girl. But none of these people were intimate with her. They don’t fall under the ‘boyfriend’ protection.

    Totally on topic:
    OF COURSE cyber bullying is only rarely the SOLE cause of a person committing suicide. Seriously? I rarely have only one cause to do anything, and suicide is a much, MUCH, bigger decision than most. Do you ever only have ONE reason you do something?

  7. Lollipoplover October 22, 2012 at 3:18 am #

    Kids will always have to deal with bullies. You can rename it cyberbullying, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to hurt any less if someone says or does something mean to you on the school bus or on Facebook. It’s how you deal with it. Parent can give kids strategies and more importantly, teach them how to cope. It’s not the end of the world, really. Things will get better, I promise.

    Parents can’t eliminate bullies. Even as adults you will still encounter them. The world is full of assholes.
    Kids need to be empowered to stand up for themselves. They don’t get empowered whem mommy and daddy intervene and attempt to make everything rainbows and unicorns. This actually makes it much worse. If my kids learn to strike down bullying attempts in elementary school by being assertive and vocal, they are developing skills that will be useful all of their lives.

  8. C.J. October 22, 2012 at 3:21 am #

    @Jynet – I’m glad you brought that up. People keep forgetting that the Amanda Todd case is about a whole lot more than just bullying. She was a young girl that was taken advantage of by a sick person and then bulltied because of it. I’m sure it just got to be to much for her and she made the terrible decision to end her life. I doubt the cyber bullying was the main reason for her decision. There were so many things happening to this poor girl. It is an unusual case (I hope) and I do hope other young people can learn from it. I know I had a conversation with my 10 year old daughter about it and explained to her about never letting someone convince her it is ok to expose her body. We also talked about if anything ever does happen like that to come to us right away. We can’t be there every minute so we educate her on what to do if she ever has a problem. The internet is a part of our lives and it is important to teach children to safely use it.

  9. Gina October 22, 2012 at 3:37 am #

    @CJ–“We also talked about if anything ever does happen like that to come to us right away.”
    If we are raising our kids with mutual respect, they will NEVER be afraid to share with us when something they cannot handle arises…
    THAT is the entire point of FR kids, is it not?

  10. C.J. October 22, 2012 at 4:03 am #

    @Gina – I agree, mutual respect is so important. If kids feel like they can talk to parents about anything they are more likely to be able to handle situations and more likely to ask for help if they can’t. We have always tried to teach our kids they can talk to us about anything and ask any question. I always know I’m in for something I would rather not talk about when one of them starts a sentence with “Mom, I have a question…” or “Mom, what happens if…”. I know they won’t always talk to me about everything like they do now, especially when they are teenagers but they will always know the door is open. That’s how I was raised, my parents gave me the knowledge I needed and left the door open to talk to them about anything. I didn’t always tell them everything but as I got older I knew how to handle situations. It amazes me how many of my friends don’t talk to their kids and encourage them to talk because they feel uncomfortable.

  11. Donald October 22, 2012 at 4:34 am #

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Benjamin Franklin

    So how do you prevent your children from bullying? Well the Free Range method won’t prevent it but Bubble wrapping kids will encourage a child to be frail and therefore a target. The more frail and the lower the self esteem of the child, the bigger the target.

    Conversely, FRK are a smaller target and are more capable to deal with the problem. This includes asking a teacher to step in. All bully victims worry that asking for help will make the bully even madder. However, the more frail the child the less likely to ask for help.

  12. Donald October 22, 2012 at 4:48 am #

    …….And if the media, and groups want figure heads, and a posterchild then pick a kid that was bullied, dealt with it, and moved on to a good life……….

    The above comment is by far the best way to reduce bullying. However, their top priority is ratings and to stir up emotion. They want tragic stories.

  13. Warren October 22, 2012 at 6:09 am #

    Thank you Donna. I know we have disagreed on occassion, but this is as good a time as any to say I have never meant any disrespect, as I know you never have.

    My fear is with the sensationalizing of the Amanda Todd case, that teens who are at that critical stange will see suicide as the glory road out of it. That they will get it into their heads, now they will pay attention, or that they will be famous in death.

  14. Virginia October 22, 2012 at 6:55 am #

    Yes. One of many seemingly forgotten aspects of what happened to Amanda is that, by her own account, what set off her first suicide attempt was not “cyberbullying” but a group physical assault on her outside her school. Of course, the circumstances that led to that assault seem to have been provoked by the bullying that she was experiencing, both online and in person.

    Sebal Mom, thank you for that link to the Toronto Star piece. It seems pretty clear that Amanda was suffering from depression (an internal state) as well as bullying (an external circumstance), and presumably the two were related. To me the lesson is not just “stop bullying,” although of course that’s a worthy goal. It’s also that sometimes, just changing schools won’t solve a young person’s problem.

    I’m so sad for Amanda, and for her parents, and I keep thinking about the amazing woman she could have grown up into. How can we do better for kids in this situation?

  15. Virginia October 22, 2012 at 7:06 am #

    BTW, according to the Toronto Star, Amanda had previously been hospitalized for anxiety and depression.–suicidal-teen-had-talked-to-her-mother-about-death

    It seems as if her parents knew what was going on with her and thought she was doing better. 🙁

  16. Donna October 22, 2012 at 7:30 am #

    That was Donald, not me. But I agree.

    To me Amanda Todd is more a story about how our stupid decisions can have far reaching consequences than a story about bullying. If my daughter was older, I would use it to talk to her about how things like flashing strangers on the internet and sleeping with another girl’s boyfriend can spiral completely out of control and have consequences that she never thought possible, not about bullying. The actions of her classmates were wrong but didn’t really surprise me in the least given the situation. They were actually quite predictable – wrong, but not unexpected to my 42 year old self – given what came before.

    And why are articles referring to the 30-year old man who talked her into the picture as a bully? His behavior was well beyond bullying.

  17. AG October 22, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    @AW13 In some case cyber bullying can be pretty awful. Imagine getting dozens of email every day, containing threats and insults. And every time you post of a public forum, a horde of accounts (either made by different people or “sock puppets” of one person) comes and floods your posts with insults, preventing you from interacting with anyone else there.

    The threats and insults can include private information about you like your real name or even your phone number, address or social security number (I have seen all of those happen) to give them more credibility. The thing is, if you have a blog or any sort of online life there’s a community around it, abandoning your blog and closing all your email accounts is a bit like having to move and having to change your phone number and never being allowed to see any of your friends again in public. It can be done but it’s very harsh.

    That being said, I tend to believe that suicide is never really the result of a single factor, be it cyber bullying or anything else.

  18. linvo October 22, 2012 at 9:28 am #

    I do have to react to the insinuations that the parents’ are often somehow to blame for their kids’ suicide. Not only is that a horrid thing for those parents to be accused of, but I think it is giving parents too much credit for how much influence they have on every aspect of their child’s life. Of course we hope that what we teach them when they are young will result in well-balanced, responsible, resilient and independent teenagers and adults. But they do have a life and a mind of their own and sometimes even the best upbringing and parental support cannot prevent depression.

    I watched a doco the other day on an Australian rural town with an incredibly high youth suicide rate. One mother of a teen who killed herself mentioned that her daughter had 7 friends commit suicide when she was alive. 7! That is an epidemic and it speaks for itself that life must seem very cheap if this is happening in your social circle all the time. It also speaks for itself that cyber bullying is not going to be a big factor here… It goes a lot deeper than that.

  19. Sebal Mom October 22, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    I in no case want to blame the parents in the Amanda Todd case or any other case. As a health care professional I am very aware that mental health issues do run in families. Amanda was I think, clearly depressed for a long time. While parents are the obvious first point in a young person’s life they are not always equipped to see or deal with the issues because of their own problems. This is why it is important for others in society to also be vigilant especially those in a professional role around youth.

    I also had a talk with my 11yo and stressed the importance of telling someone if you or a friend is in a scary situation.

  20. Donald October 22, 2012 at 11:46 am #


    I often agree with you that includes this post. I wish the media would pick out a success story like you suggested. However they are often most interested in doom and gloom

  21. Donald October 22, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    I meant to say
    And that includes this post

  22. Rhea October 22, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

    I agree with pretty much all if the above but I Would like to add one thing that my father told me that I am going tell my children in turn: Suicide does not solve any problems. It doesn’t make anything better. It only makes everything worse for the people around you. It just simply isn’t an option.

  23. Marcy October 22, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

    The question I have had for quite a while, and this study did not answer it, is: is the rate of youth suicide actually increasing? or are we just hearing about it more (like all the other issues on this site)? From the beginning of time, SOME teenagers have committed suicide. It used to be blamed on moody, depressed adolescence, then rock and roll, followed by video games, now it is blamed on bullies and the internet. Are some kids more likely to resort to suicide, regardless of what the societal evil du jour is? I am not saying it is something not to worry about like abductions. Suicide is the third leading cause of death of young people. So I googled it. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the rate of suicide for kids ages 10-24 has remained completely flat from 2000-2010. I saw plenty of sites claiming an increase in the rate, but none of them actually gave a reference to that information. I have not seen a graph for a longer time period. Based on what I have read so far, my suspicion is that the rate of suicide is actually lower now, because teenagers are more likely to be treated for depression now than 20, 30, 50 years ago.

  24. C.J. October 22, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

    @linvo – Unfortunately whether it is a child or an adult suicide it sometimes doesn’t matter what family does to help them. I do believe Amanda Todd’s parents tried to get help for her. She was in councelling and on anti-depressants. I don’t know if it had anything to do with it but I have read that anti-depressants can sometimes have the oppisite effect on children under 18 and cause suicidal thoughts. My friends husband committed suicide. She did everything she could for him. Brought him to the hospital with every attempt, they refused to keep him. Got him into councelling, even drove him there. She tried to have it so he was never alone. Eventually he was successful in his attempt to end his life anyway. It was a nightmare. All anyone can do is try and hope they can get through to the person. Ultimately it is up to the person. Unfourtunately Amanda’s parents will likely be judged and will feel a lot of guilt, that’s how it was for my friend. It shouldn’t be that way, I doubt there is anything more they could have done.

  25. MR October 22, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

    Has anyone here actually been in anti depressants? I am jut wondering (I have not) because from what some of the people I know who have been on them tell me, I can see how they could make things worse and increase suicidal thoughts. My husband is on a low dose of an antidepressant mostly due to anxiety, although he does get down as well (not sure if I would classify it as depression as he is more moody, meaning up and down when not medicated). In my experience the antidepressants make him stop feeling any extreme emotion, which means no more joy either. It is kin of like he just doesn’t give a crap anymore. Yes he is not depressed, but he is just so flat. I find his empathy goes as well, I really think empathy is extremely linked to your own emotions, and when you are not feeling it can be hard to know that other people still are. My sister in law also took anti depressant and said she had to get off them as it made her feel too flat and blah, not happy, not sad either, but empty. I think we sometimes assume antidpressants take away the depression leaving happy, but I think it is more of a stifling of all emotions. I can see how the flat emotions, the not feeling ANYTHING and the lack of empathy can lead to suicide in a teen. It would make it all seem sort of pointless.

  26. BL October 22, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    “Imagine getting dozens of email every day, containing threats and insults. And every time you post of a public forum, a horde of accounts (either made by different people or “sock puppets” of one person) comes and floods your posts with insults, preventing you from interacting with anyone else there”

    Sounds like things that are already legally actionable: Denial-of-service attacks are a crime, threats are a crime, even insults can be libel or slander. Why do we need some special category called “cyberbullying” for this?

  27. mollie October 22, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

    I think “bullying” and “helicopter parenting” are definitely linked, and that the computer is somewhat incidental. It’s not just parents, though, it’s policy.

    Until age 11 or 12, you know you are a child. It’s clear. You’re smaller than adults, you are enjoying, in many ways, being cared for by adults, relying on them for most of what you need to survive. It helps you grow if the adults are giving you more and more opportunities to show what you are capable of, something that rarely happens these days, since it requires some measure of unsupervised, undirected time.

    Once you reach early puberty, it’s clear that you are not a child. You’re ready for more complex relationships, including some that have sexual aspects, and yet, you’re told you are absolutely not ready to be out on your own. You start to sense that if you were told you were not safe throughout your childhood and monitored every moment, that there is freedom somehow, somewhere, and you want it. Either that, or you are paralyzed by anxiety and prefer to stay under your caregivers’ wings, perhaps indefinitely. The former, though, start getting VERY restless.

    Once you’ve reached the full bloom of sexual maturity, look out. You are an adult, and yet, you are not at all seen that way. It’s like a collective hysterical delusion: our culture tells you that you are not ready for sex, not ready for work, not ready for meaningful contributions to society. You are stuck in high school, which, except for a minority of individuals, is nearly devoid of meaning, since most of what is taught in “high” school could be accomplished by the end of grade 8, and material is often repetitive. It’s clear: you’re being kept “safe,” out of the mix. You’re being kept in high school because there is nowhere else for you, and society has no use for you.

    A couple of centuries ago, in Western societies at least, you’d be helping run the farm (useful for survival), apprenticing in a trade (utterly practical), starting to have children of your own as a married person (talk about responsibility!), or going off to sea or war (facing death).

    Do you think those teenagers bothered with “bullying”? What a laugh! If one is living a meaningful life, full of purpose, part of something that is clearly needed, even if it is drudgery, the last thing they are going to do is lash out at others. People are similar to chickens. Coop them up with too little feed or space and what do they do? Peck at the weak. Peck them to death. And the weak only get weaker when they’re cooped up in the first place, and the strong don’t know what to do with their strength, because they haven’t got a natural life to live fully.

    High school is the chicken coop. It’s artificial, it’s inauthentic, it was an experiment that has failed miserably, at least in North America. Where is purpose and meaning and contribution for our young people today? Nowhere. They are told to study harder, to play more sports! How arbitrary and clearly out of synch with what is really needed in our communities! No wonder these kids are going a bit barmy.

    So. How to infuse meaning and purpose and mental health into adolescence?

    Let young children play more. Unstructured time. Make grade school more about creative problem-solving than rote memorization, diversify and enrich the curriculum, mix the ages more. Bring back apprenticeships. Make high school optional. Welcome 13 – 17 year olds into the workforce. Stop thinking that a University degree automatically equals financial security.

    Personally, I’m hoping at least a couple of my kids run off to join the circus.

  28. K October 22, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

    Good point about the rates of teen suicide.

    I don’t know how they compare to rates 20 or 30 years ago.

    That teen suicide is the number 2 cause of teen death is not, by itself, informative.

    Modern medicine reduces death rates by treatable causes all the time. Thus, causes that used to be lower on the list move up (something has to be number 1 and number 2) – reduce suicide rates, something else will move to number two with no rate change at all.

    The fact is, we will never prevent all bad things from happening. We have become so risk averse that we are losing some of the good stuff (by which I don’t mean bullying, but I DO mean independence).

    The one piece that cyber-bullying has changed is that the bullies can “follow you” to your home, on vacation, and everywhere now where back in the day, you were away from them at those times. But, good with bad, you also can more easily stay in touch with your support people, your friends, your social network, at those same times.

    Kids need to develop their skills to filter what they don’t want in this new means of human interaction. Don’t friend people that aren’t, don’t post in public places (as yourself), block others (even friends of friends) if they tell you things that you don’t want to hear, don’t assume that you “know” a stranger across cyberspace…. which really means, help our kids to use their common sense.

  29. AG October 22, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

    @BL Honestly I just call it harrasment, which is what bullying is, really. It’s just that kids do it rather than adults. Online, It can be by people you know, on facebook and such where it’s just an extention of school bullying, or by people you don’t know and are anonymous which is what I was referencing.

    In both cases, there’s a basis for some sort of action (administrative if it’s in connection with the school or judicial if it’s anonymous). However, it’s often not taken seriously by the authorities because “it’s just the internet, why don’t you just log off?”.

    Either way, a different term isn’t really needed, but there’s this tendency today to over-categorize things.

  30. K October 22, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

    Statistics on suicide:

    One point from this website:
    “Between the mid-1950s and the late 1970s, the suicide rate among U.S. males aged 15-24 more than tripled ” [snip] “youth suicide rate generally leveled off during the 1980s and early 1990s, and since the mid-1990s has been steadily decreasing.”

    While still tragic any time it occurs: Suicide often covaries with other mental illness, is less common than it has been, and is not notably increasing with internet access (cyberbullying or not). Rather, it has been slowly decreasing since the 90s (with current data suggesting somewhat of an increase this year, not clear whether the increase is significant).

  31. BL October 22, 2012 at 4:36 pm #


    Have you read John Taylor Gatto? You’re 90% of the way there already. Among many other things, Gatto says you should worry if your 7-year-old is still noticeably childish and pretty much give up if your 12 or 13-year-old is.

    He says similar things (similar to what you said) about apprenticeships, college, and compulsory schooling as well.

  32. Jules October 22, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    I’ve been saying all along that we are going about the anti-bullying movement wrong. It’s all “down with bullies”, with NO focus on empowering kids so that they aren’t bullied, or so that they don’t let things bother them. We romanticize these sad stories about kids who commit suicide, and it gives the impression that if they hurt themselves, that they’ll get the payback against the bullies and society that they are looking for.
    Kids need to be told STOP being a victim!! Especially online! Shut the computer off! Delete your Facebook! Don’t look at it! When I was growing up, bullies would corner kids in the school bathroom and beat them up. And yet there wasn’t a perceived epidemic of kids committing suicide.

  33. Anonymous October 22, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

    @MR: I’ve been on anti-depressants, three different times, two different types. The first time was at age 19. But they’ve never made me suicidal. My doctor was also adamant that I tell her if I did feel suicidal and asked at every subsequent follow-up appointment. Nor do these drugs make it impossible for me feel joy, empathy, sadness, etc. While medicated, I can still feel the full range of human emotion – in contrast to when I am not medicated and I am devoid of every emotion except hopelessness and anxiety. But sometimes it takes awhile to get the right drug matched with the right person.

  34. Amanda Matthews October 22, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

    @Jules That works for cyber bullying, but we don’t give people under 18 that option for real-life bullying. I think bullying would be GREATLY reduced if more people were willing to pull their kids out of a school where they were being bullied (and either send them to another school or homeschool), and more schools were willing to kick out bullies (which they are unwilling to do right now since they make money based on how many kids are in attendance, but I’m pretty sure they would do once they started losing several bullied kids and realized it’s the 1 bully or the countless bullied…).

    Also that’s like saying if you are getting harassing phone calls, cancel your phone service. We don’t tell adults to do that; we arrest the person making the harassing phone calls, or at the very least take their phone away. Or it’s like saying if you got robbed on the train, stop going anywhere.

    I do think people being cyber bullied should stay off sites such as facebook, and change their screen name if they are being “followed around” and harassed, but they should not have to isolate themselves in order to not be bullied, because we are a social animal. The BULLIES should be the ones being isolated, by everyone that they are bullying getting away from them.

  35. Julie October 23, 2012 at 12:58 am #

    A couple weeks ago, I ended up in conversation with a woman who told me and another woman (a young mom with two young kids) that “Everyone is bullied these days.” I jumped in immediately with, “No, they’re not. No more than when were growing up. It’s not an epidemic. Some kids getted bullied, some don’t. It’s about the same number as when we were kids.” The woman then restated her original assertion that there’s a lot more now, especially since we have the internet. I countered her, and she grew extremely uncomfortable and we eventually agreed to disagree.

    It bothered me that this woman not only had bought into the hysteria (she has a 13-year-old, another in upper elementary and a five-year-old) but that she was trying to pass on her unfounded fear to a younger mom. It’s one thing to be utterly paranoid for your own kids, but don’t try to convince someone else to live out your fears, too.

  36. linvo October 23, 2012 at 2:04 am #

    @Jules, real bullying has been going on forever but that doesn’t mean it should be trivialised. There are plenty of people out there who will forever carry the scars of constant bullying during their childhood.

    And I think one should be cautious of applying the “it happened back then too and we turned out alright” attitude too widely. Racism and sexism were also rampant when I was growing up… Yet I wouldn’t be happy if racist or sexist remarks or actions were shrugged off at my child’s school.

    I do try to teach my child how to stand up for herself, but unfortunately that is not always going to be sufficient.

  37. LadyTL October 23, 2012 at 3:16 am #

    @linvo Constant bullying is a problem but the thing is no one is required to like everyone or even be nice to everyone all the time. These days any non-nice comment or remark and every time someone brings up that someone doesn’t like them that is classed as bullying. If anything this attitude of children must never hear a negative thing ever or it is bullying trivializes bullying more than Julie’s attitude about it. If administrators are having to spread their attention around to every snarky comment, every time someone doesn’t want to play with someone else or every time someone doesn’t want to share, it leaves less of their attention for real problems of harassment.

    It also bears the question of how this attitude will affect them as adults since it is not appropriate to go to your manager to complain about how you feel a customer was bullying you by not being nice to you or even yelling at you.

    This is not to say that severe bullying cannot cause problems but admitting that it is not going to stop and it isn’t getting worse is not the same as giving up completely.

  38. Julie October 23, 2012 at 5:28 am #

    @Linvo: I agree that real bullying is a problem and should not be trivialized. I, too, know people who carry scars from it. I don’t actually have a “we made it through okay” attitude about it. I was more trying to point out that the “epidemic” that everyone seems to be talking about is really media-manufactured, not reality.

    When we’ve come to the place where parents believe that “everyone is bullied these days,” then I think it actually draws attention away from the real cases that do in fact need to be dealt with.

    A schoolyard spat or an unkind comment toward someone is not bullying, and I think *that* trivializes what certain kids endure when we call it such.

    (And my goodness, don’t let me post when my kids are wanting dinner. “Getted”? Forgotten words? Egads, I used to teach English!)

  39. Jynet October 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    As others have pointed out, while ‘cyber-bullying’ is rarely (or never) the sle cause of a person’s suicide, victimized children ARE more at risk:

  40. Jules October 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    @Linvo, I’m not trivializing anything. What I’m saying is that we need to make our kids stronger against bullies. Instead, the message we are sending is “don’t be a bully”. A good kid isn’t going to be a bully, and any mean-spirited child isn’t going to listen to this advice; they’re going to bully, because it’s in their nature, or they’ve learned it.

    I’m not saying that “we got bullied and turned out okay”. I’m saying that whether we came out okay or damaged, bullying was harder to run away from when we were kids. There were bullies to push you down and kick you in the bathroom, ones throwing spitballs or putting gum in your hair on the bus. Now kids have the option to just click away from the bullies, but they are drawn in and force themselves to read what has been written about them.

    Here is a GREAT example of the benefits of free play! My child who is at the park isn’t in cyberspace to see a bunch of threats and insults, or to make them!

  41. Emily October 24, 2012 at 5:05 am #

    @Jules and Linvo–I don’t think cyberbullying exists in isolation. If a young person is being bullied online, chances are, he or she is being bullied in person as well.

  42. Warren October 24, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    This whole cyber bullying is nothing new. It is still bullying. The technology has changed.

    Bully’s have gone from painting on cave walls, to carving on trees, to slipping notes under doors, to making phone calls, to trolling the internet, to social media sites.

    We knew what to do then, and we know what to do now. If my daughter was being cyber bullied, she would be offline. Just changing names, and accounts doesn’t cut it, because the bully immediately picks up on them.
    Give it a few months for the bully/idiot to loose interest, then try booting up under new accounts.

  43. Kimberly October 25, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    I’m in favor of treating bullies as criminals, because they are criminals and their victims deserve to be protected. That said I am talking about behavior that is criminal – assault, threats of violence. I don’t consider the occasional name calling or spat between kids bullying.

    When a child is force to go to a building where they are terrorized on a regular basis, that needs to stop.

    My story – from K – 5 I was beaten up on a regular basis and threatened with graphic descriptions of rape nearly daily. I didn’t even understand what I was being threatened with, and couldn’t make the adults understand what was happening. The summer between 4th and 5th we visited my Mom’s family in Canada.

    There was an accident and I was hit full force with a flying baseball bat in front of 3 of my uncles and 2 RCMP officers. During the fuss my sister made the comment (bully) hits her harder than that every day and you never can see the bruises that’s why the teachers let him get way with it.

    Sure enough – no visible bruise (the spot was very tender and hurt like hell but no typical purple bruise) That combined with some other behavior prompted my uncles to tell my Dad they feared I might be being sexually abused. (They were victims of the Catholic Church).

    When we got home, my parents talked to my doctor. He confirmed that due to my skin condition bruise might not show up in the traditional way. I was also sent to talk to a therapist. She was horrified to find out I was being victimized by a classmate, and that other girls were also victims. While my parents were investigating their options talking to a lawyer and the doctors, things came to a boil at school. One day he slammed a friend of mine into a wall/window so hard it cracked the glass. She was blamed and punished. I told the principal and teacher what I thought about that.

    The next day I was kicked in the throat in front of almost all of the 5th grade students, when the teachers were all in their rooms. All the parents called my parents demanding that they had to do something. It came down to our lawyer was more frightening than the bully’s lawyer father, and the district higher ups allowed the principal to punish the bully. He was pulled from the school by his parents, who realized the gig was up. (The fact my Dad had witnesses to a school board member saying that I was “asking for it” and if I “didn’t like being hit I should keep my mouth shut and not annoy the boys” helped our case.)

    The next year we moved to Junior High. In Gym we had a health class. Girls were taught breast exams, other you are growing up stuff. Then they talked about date rape (rather progressive for late 70s), and what we could do to protect ourselves. One of my classmates from elementary said, “Oh that is what (Bully) was talking about.”

    The teacher said what?

    It started pouring out of about 10 – 15 girls out of the 40 in the room. Stories of things he had done, threatened to do. I’ll never forget the look on that teacher’s face as she locked the classroom door and asked if anyone knew were “bully” was that period. Then the look of relief when we told her he had moved to a private school. That was the first teacher to really believe us – 6 years to late.

    Last I hear bully was in TDC prision in Huntsvile for raping and beating a woman nearly to death.

  44. coach outlet April 9, 2013 at 11:51 pm #

    A person essentially lend a hand to make critically posts I would state. This is the very first time I frequented your website page and up to now? I amazed with the analysis you made to create this particular publish incredible. Wonderful activity! coach outlet

  45. Zeta July 10, 2013 at 12:20 am #

    Bullying in itself doesn’t cause anyone to commit suicide, but when the support mechanisms are not in place to prevent bullying escalating, that is where the real danger lies.

    Support mechanism not only include the school and the victim’s parents, but also the bully’s parents as well (to reinforce the concept that anti-social behaviour is unacceptable), and society at large – but these support mechanisms are now dysfunctional.

    Some parents encourage bullying, or even encourage a victim mentality… schools don’t want to get involved, or are too heavy handed. It’s very sad for those vulnerable to bullying and bullying tactics.

  46. Oasis July 11, 2013 at 12:06 am #

    When anyone commits suicide – regardless of age and circumstances – it is a terrible tragedy. I agree with Zeta – when support mechanisms are not in place then that is where the real danger lies. We have all experienced bullying to certain levels, yet I would like to think we had the support to overcome it. Very sad… 🙁