STARS logo


With One In Three Teens Cyber-Bullied, It Is A Big Deal – By Rodger Dinwiddie


From a webpage of a 14-year old girl, “It’s great! Over the internet you don’t really see the faces and they don’t see you. You don’t even have to look at their eyes and see their hurt.”


We’ve seen the funny TV spot where a teenager and her mother are communicating in code. If you have had a conversation with any young person lately via text messaging it is a new foreign language for adults!  Like this: r we bff? mos & pal. i w brb. Translated: Are we best friends forever? Mother is over shoulder and parents are listening. I will be right back.

Technology can be such a great asset for young and old but it opens up new venues for possible harm often in the form of cyber bullying. So what’s the extent of cyber bullying and social networking among young people?Research by Limber, Kowalski, & Agatston found 18% of middle school students had been cyber-bullied at least once in the previous two months, and 6% of them had been cyber-bullied two to three times a month or more often. Girls were twice as likely to cyber-bully as boys. Often the identity of the perpetrator was unknown or hidden.

Another study found one in three teens, and one in six pre-teens have been victims of cyber-bullying (Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, 2006). In another study 58% of the young people surveyed admit someone has said mean or hurtful things to them online while 53% admitted having said something mean or hurtful things to another online. Another key finding was that 58% had not told their parents or any adult (isafe survey, 2004).

These data point out other important issues about cyber bullying, often referred to as the great digital divide: 93% of parents say they have established internet safety rules while 37% of students report being given no rules from parents on internet safety. And, 95% of parents say they know “some” or “a lot” about where children go or what children do on the internet, but 41% of children do not share where they go or what they do on the internet with parents.

While there are similarities between more traditional forms of bullying, there are some serious differences. The facts are clear thus far that cyber bullying occurs more often at home, is more anonymous, involves a different power balance and is just as likely to be done by girls. One big difference includes the advent of social networking sites which have captured the time and interest of many children and adolescents.

Some of the most popular social networking site include, with MySpace having many times more subscribers than the other sites combined. And, while all these sites can be a means of communicating among adolescents and young adults, we need to understand some recent research on MySpace showing 57% of profiles included at least one photo; 5% of teens included photos of themselves in swimsuits or underwear; 9% included full names andless than 1% included a phone number. However, when extrapolated, this could include be 75,000 teens.

Finally, in another survey conducted by i-Safe America, Inc. in 2004, 63% of online teens receive emails from perfect strangers; 60% of these teens responded. About 87% of Americans can be identified by their birth date, gender and zip code and 80% of youth ages 7-18 receive inappropriate email on a daily basis, while 86% of girls polled report that they can chat online without their parent’s knowledge.

What can parents and young people do if they are experiencing cyber bullying? One of the first things that parents and adults can do is to get educated. And, STARS can help you and your group gain knowledge of how to respond to cyber bullying and harassment. Contact us at 615-279-0058 to schedule a workshop on bullying and cyber bullying.