Kids & Family

New Stats Show Rise in Cyberbullying for Teens

Girls are three times more likely than boys to be targeted. Read more about cyberbullying and the steps you can take to fight it.


New data reveals that as teenagers become increasingly connected on social media, they are experiencing a rise in cyberbullying. A report from the National Center for Education Statistics says three times as many girls report cyberbullying than boys.

The study, supported by the U.S. Department of Education, found 20 percent of middle school and high school students reported being bullied in the 2016-17 school year.

The numbers broken down by gender are striking--21 percent of girls reported being bullied online, compared to less than 7 percent of boys.

Girls are more than three times as likely as boys to report being cyberbullied.

While the study does not identify who the bullies are, Lauren Paul, founder of the Kind Campaign, told the Associated Press that 90 percent of the stories she hears while working in schools are of girls bullied by other girls .

"Most of the time - if not almost all the time - it's about what's going on with other girls," Paul said. "It's this longing to be accepted by their female peers specifically and feeling broken if they don't."

Paul also cited examples of girls being excluded from certain cliques or groups if they do not get enough "likes" or followers on their social media profiles.

Due to its online nature, cyberbullying can be incredibly difficult to prevent or address. A 2014 study found that parents often lack the technical skills and knowledge to monitor online behavior . Additionally, school systems don't always know when and how to intervene in cyberbullying when it happens off campus, and law enforcement often can't get involved unless there is clear evidence of a crime of threat to someone's safety.

Often, the most important step parents is simply having conversations with their children. If they are being bullied, assure them you are supportive and taking steps to address the situation. Parents can also have a conversation with their child's school to:

  • Ask about the school's bullying prevention policy.
  • Determine your point of contact at the school for reporting cyberbullying.
  • Provide documentation of the bullying to your child's school.
  • Record your correspondence with the school and record the response.

You can click here to find more information and resources for parents .

Parents can also click here to learn more about social media and digital awareness to better monitor their child's online activity .

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