Is Cyber-Bullying Linked to Depression?

We’ve long held the belief that people who are bullies – whether online or in a physical space – suffer from some sort of depression, mental imbalance or other brain block. However, new studies show that it is usually the victims – not the bullies – who end up suffering from depression. Bullying, which traditionally involved physical violence, verbal harassment or social exclusion, now often includes “cyber” bullying, a form of electronic aggression. Cyber bullying allows bullies to engage in aggressive behaviors via computers or cell phones. Their victims are the most likely ones to suffer mental consequences later on.

The study authors state that “unlike traditional bullying, which usually involves a face-to-face confrontation, cyber victims may not see or identify their harasser; as such, cyber victims may be more likely to feel isolated, dehumanized or helpless at the time of the attack.” The new study worked with American students in grades 6 through 10. The kids completed a questionnaire designed to measure their levels of depression, and were asked whether they were either perpetrators or victims of bullying.

Being bullied has been linked to lower academic achievement standards, self-respect and social development. It can – and often does, sadly – affect the future. “There is a lot of evidence that psychological problems in adolescence can persist into adulthood,” says chief researcher Ronald J. Iannotti. “Involvement of schools and parents is really important,” he said. “It’s really got to be a community effort – working with teachers, administrators, parents, and working with kids to improve their social skills so these kinds of things don’t happen.”

Being a victim of a cyber-bully is definitely not a good situation. I urge you to talk to a parent, teacher or other trusted adult. You may feel as though no-one will listen or can help, but you are wrong. People DO care, and they’re willing to help in any way they can. If someone doesn’t take you seriously, talk to another person. Don’t give up.