A recent survey conducted by TRU indicates that cyber bullying has reached epidemic proportions across the United States.
Indeed, concerns over rampant digital bullying now outweigh other, more traditional “teen issues,” such as drugs, poor parenting, crime and racism.
“64% of teens say bullying is a problem in their own schools and communities. [We believe] the ubiquity of social media has turned what was once a community issue into one of worldwide scope,” explained TRU research VP Peter Picard.
“[And] more than half of teens (52%) know someone their age who has been the target of hateful or hurtful electronic communication, while three in 10 (29%) admit to having suffered such intimidation themselves.”
According to Picard, the Internet effectively “sanitizes” bullies from real-world confrontation, thereby encouraging the worst possible behavior.
“Weak people, provided the illusion of power, are the most dangerous tyrants. [And so], from Rhode Island to California, young people have suffered an alarming series of harassment-induced suicides in the past few weeks.
“[For example], a combination of homophobia and Internet-based privacy invasion [recently] lead to the death of 18-year-old Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi.”
Picard also emphasized that homophobia “remained” an urgent concern, with more than half of teens and twenty-somethings (52%) calling it a “big issue” in their communities.
“[Yes] bullying, in one form or another, has been with us forever. But the old image of a menacing crowd cornering a vulnerable victim behind the gym doesn’t really capture the essence of modern bullying.
“Think of a networked army of anonymous mean spirits – armed with webcams, iPhones, and Twitter accounts – who subscribe to the theory,’no blood, no foul.’
“They’re perfectly content to deliver virtual blows that appear to leave no bruise. Unfortunately, today’s attacks leave a much more harmful mark than that of yesterday’s locker-room harassment – one that the whole world can see.”