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Cyberbullying Is On The Rise — & Girls Are The Target

Jennifer Mattern

There’s a rise in cyberbullying across the nation — and girls are the ones most affected by it. Three times as many girls than boys are reporting online harassment or text harassment. The data come from the National Center for Education Statistics, which serves as the U.S. Department of Education’s branch for research and data. This month, the National Center for Education released a new survey showing a definite increase in internet bullying. Interestingly, the number of students who report being harassed has stayed roughly the same.

The last cyberbullying survey was completed by the National Center for Education in 2014-2015, and the newest reflects data from the 2016-2017 school year. Both surveys show one in five students — approximately 20 percent — report experiences of being bullied (everything from exclusion from desirable groups to verbal and physical abuse).

However, the 2016-2017 school year data show cyberbullying reports increasing from 11.5 percent to 15.3 percent, with a shocking 21 percent of middle school girls and high school girls reporting experiencing cyberbullying as opposed to less than 7 percent of the boys surveyed.

The 2014-2015 school year data showed only 16 percent of girls in this age group reporting that they had been bullied.

Our SheKnows HatchKids discussed bullying in this insightful video:

Fortunately there are groups specifically working to combat bullying in female populations. The internationally recognized Kind Campaign describes itself on its website as a “nonprofit organization that brings awareness and healing to the negative and lasting effects of girl-against-girl bullying through their global movement, documentary film, in-school assemblies and educational curriculums.”

AP News reported that co-founder of the Kind Campaign, Lauren Paul, stated that 90 percent of the bullying stories she learns while visiting various schools are about girls bullying other girls, not boys bullying girls, and that the Kind Campaign focuses on girl vs. girl aggression.

AP News quoted Paul as saying, “Most of the time… it’s about what’s going on with other girls… It’s this longing to be accepted by their female peers specifically and feeling broken if they don’t.”

The problem with bullying is that it doesn’t end with the aggressor and the one being directly harmed. Everyone is affected negatively by the bystander effect — a disturbing social phenomenon in which people witnessing an event in crowds become paralyzed and do not seek help for the victim, believing it’s someone else’s responsibility to step up and act. Often with the bystander effect, there’s guilt after the fact, realizing that one could have helped — but did nothing.

And: Some youth are simply afraid to stand up to bullies for fear they will be targeted themselves.

There are no winners in a culture of bullying — and right now, the data suggest that it’s our girls who are losing the battle more and more with each passing school year, despite organizations like the Kind Campaign and, which means we as parents have a lot more work to do.

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