Not a growing problem: What we never see in the news is reports that bullying is in decline in the US (I doubt the picture is much different in the UK). “The surveys that reflect change over the longest time periods, going back to the early 1990s, consistently show declines in bullying and peer victimization, some of it remarkably large,” Dr. Finkelhor wrote in his report last January.
Right on the first page of the report is a chart showing a 74 percent decline in violent victimization at school among 12- to 17-year-olds between 1992 and 2011, the latest available data from the US Department of Justice. (I'll shortly be blogging about more great research on bullying from the CCRC.)
Bullying and suicide
There’s a lot of insight in the SPRC’s issue brief about the relationship between bullying and suicide, starting on p. 2, and more recently from a study presented at the 2012 annual conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) which looked at both online and offline bullying in relation to suicide in 41 cases in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.
The study’s author, John LeBlanc, MD, found that “78% of adolescents who committed suicide were bullied both at school and online, and only 17% were targeted online only.” So, he continued in the AAP’s press release, “cyberbullying is a factor in some suicides, but almost always there are other factors such as mental illness or face-to-face bullying.”
Formspring.me (an older US-based Q&A site allowing anonymity like the Latvia-based Ask.fm cited in the coverage of Hannah Smith’s case) and Facebook were specifically mentioned in 21 of the 41 cases Dr. LeBlanc reviewed. Text or video messaging was involved in 14 of the cases. About the anonymity factor: “Certain social media, by virtue of allowing anonymity, may encourage cyberbullying,” LeBlanc added.