A recent study proves what Text Kills has been saying all along: cyberbullying and text-bullying are just as harmful as physical bullying.
A research team led by a Michigan State University professor found that children who faced “cyberbullies” or were bullied through their cellphone (text-bullying) were just as likely to skip school or think about suicide as kids who were picked on in person. This study is very important in shaping the public discourse around bullying, and shows the necessity of taking all forms of bullying into account when shaping anti-bullying policies and procedures. Indeed, bullying isn’t just occurring on the schoolyard anymore, but is happening everywhere because of the proliferation of the internet and mobile devices.
The research team analyzed survey data collected from more than 3,000 children in grades 3 through 11 in Singapore. The study revealed 22 percent of the students who were physically bullied skipped school or at least thought about not going. By comparison, 27 percent of the students questioned who were victims of a cyberbully, either through email, online blog, or chatroom, did the same.
The study also found that 28 percent of those who were bullied through text messages on their cellphones also skipped school or thought about skipping school.
Of the students who were physically bullied, the study showed 22 percent thought about suicide, compared to 28 percent of those who were cyberbullied. The researchers pointed out 26 percent of those who were bullied through their cellphone also considered suicide.
Based on these numbers, it seems as if cyberbullying and text-bullying may actually be having more of a negative effect than physical bullying. Why could this be? Perhaps one reason is that text-bullying and cyberbullying can be more persistent: While physical bullying may be relegated to school hours, text-bullying and cyberbullying can occur around the clock, just as long as the target is accessing their cellphone or the internet.
While technology may have given bullies a new means of attacking their victims, it can also prove beneficial in monitoring and stopping this behavior. Thomas Holt, an associate professor of criminal justice, strongly suggests “careful supervision of youth activity online, including the use of filtering software, (which) can help reduce the likelihood that the child is targeted by bullies via the Web.”
Text Kills agrees that technology can be used to combat text and cyberbullies. WordBully, a smartphone application by Iconosys, Inc., helps parents to filter for bullying behavior and words by monitoring their children’s smartphones. While it is unfortunate that we live in a time where such things are necessary, putting the power into parents’ hands to keep their children safe is of the utmost importance. And of course, Don’t Be A Bully!
For more information on the Bully Buster smartphone app, visit www.wordbully.net