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Understanding The Impact Of Cyberbullying

Movies and media reports tend to favor dramatic events over real problems. Everything must be depicted at the extreme ends of possibility (usually far beyond) to keep the audience's attention. It's not enough for the movies that global warming will cause draughts and heat waves, leaving millions struggling for access to adequate clean water. Global warming needs to be a dramatic, instantaneous world-killer. When it comes to cyberbullying, it is not enough that teenagers suffer depression, see their grades suffer, turn to drugs or alcohol, and experience long-term mental health issues when they are made victims of online bullying. Depictions of cyberbullying must result in suicide or murder to gain the public's attention.

A recent study reaffirmed the connection between cyberbullying and one of its most harmful side effects. Adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18 saw significantly increased levels of depression when exposed to cyberbullying. Despite recent efforts to shine a light on the problem, many of the young people involved in the study were unaware of any way to combat cyberbullying. Teenagers still don't know who they can turn to when they are the victims of social media harassment. 

While the studies evaluated demonstrated a clear link to depression, it was not clear that cyberbullying has a strong link to suicidal thoughts or anxiety. While there are cases of cyberbullying that end tragically, there is a world of harm between no impact and suicide. One does not need to go to extremes to find that cyberbullying carries a high cost.

Parents, teachers, school administrators and teens should work together to ensure that cyberbullying is address quickly and thoroughly. It should not take an expression of suicidal thoughts or behavior to inspire action. By that point, much of the damage is done.

Source: Medpage Today, "Cyberbullying Linked to Depression Among Teens," by Molly Walker, 22 June 2015 

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