Kathryn Lindsay
August 05, 2015 7:57 am

The good news: In-person bullying has decreased by 3% since 2006. The bad news? It’s moved online. A study found that between the years of 2006 and 2012, cyberbullying went up from 14.6% to 21.2%, which is pretty dramatic, not to mention depressing.

If you’re not familiar with the term, cyberbullying is a form of bullying that takes place online or through electronic technology. It can range from rude messages and emails to posting rumors and pictures without consent on various social media websites. It’s especially hard because a victim of cyberbullying can’t really get a break from it. They can go offline, but that doesn’t stop the bullying from happening without them — and it’s all waiting to be read when they go back online (because, let’s face it, in today’s world, you can’t unplug forever).

Now, yes, you can probably write some of this off to the fact that between 2006 and 2012, technology and social media became much more prevalent, so it (unfortunately) makes sense that cyberbullying increased. But if you look closer, you see the shocking truth: This rise in cyberbullying has affected young girls most of all. While instances of cyberbullying went up 3% for boys, they went up an insane 10% when it came to instances that targeted girls. And as Teen Vogue points out, these statistics only represent instances of cyberbullying that were reported. So much of this online cruelty happens without anyone else knowing, so the number could actually be way higher.

So what can we do? The answer is the same for any kind of bullying: Tell someone. Keeping it all inside not only won’t stop the bullying, but it can seriously affect your mental health — which is the most important thing during all of this. A parent, teacher, counselor, the options are endless. Pick someone you trust and let them know that you’re feeling hurt and unsafe.

The only way to really handle cyberbullying is IRL, but if you’re feeling particularly upset, especially if you’re having suicidal thoughts, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) at any time for free help from a trained counselor.

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