Bullies Turn Cyberspace Sour

Click here to listen to this podcast

Getting picked on is an unfortunate part of childhood. While many adults took their lumps the old-fashioned way—in person—today’s kids face an altogether different antagonist: the cyber bully.

And the practice among kids to harass and threaten each other via e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, Web sites or texting seems to be growing.

According to a 2011 survey of more than 15,000 high school students nationwide, 16 percent—about one in six—reported being electronically bullied within the previous year. The study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also found that girls were more than twice as likely as boys to report being a victim of cyberbullying.

Although the CDC conducts its high school health-risk behaviors survey every two years, this was the first time they asked students about electronic bullying.

What to do? The website StopCyberbullying.org offers some helpful tips. A big one: anonymous methods for reporting online harassment can help kids keep cyberbullies off their backs.

—Larry Greenemeier

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

Follow Scientific American on Twitter @SciAm and @SciamBlogs. Visit ScientificAmerican.com for the latest in science, health and technology news.
© 2013 ScientificAmerican.com. All rights reserved.