Cyberbullying continues to rise; what you can do about it

The reason for the high percentage of students reporting bullying may not be for the reason you expect.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – As we spend more time logged in than ever before, it’s easy to point a finger at the pandemic as the reason for such high numbers of cyberbullying. That may not be entirely accurate, though, say the experts.

“I think it’s just been a steady increase over time. I mean, over 80% of adolescents and teenagers have a cellphone or some kind of electronic device,” says integrated behavioral specialist Michael Pella.

Go figure, it’s the usual suspects: social media platforms. “And with the increase of the availability of electronic devices, that tends to increase the chances of that type of cyberbullying increasing as well,” Pella says.

That does seem to be the case in Nebraska. A survey of high school students here shows almost 16% report having been cyberbullied at some point. That number may be a little low, however.

“Many other studies,” Pella says. “both in the United States and in other countries, are actually showing about half of all adolescents and teens are bullied at some point.”

So what do you do? First, and this is a bit of a tricky one, keep an eye on your kids’ social media activity. Talk to them; let them know you’re there to help. Watch for the outward signs, things like mood swings, behavioral changes, maybe even some isolation.

Pella says it’s important for the victims of bullying to realize that things can change, but they need to speak up. “Probably half of their friends have gone through it or are going through it, so they’re not alone,” he says. “This can and will stop if they’re just willing to reach out for a little help.”

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