PrintWhile digital technology on the whole has improved people’s lives by making communication easier across the globe, throughout the years we’ve found that it also has the potential to separate and polarize people like no other technology before it.

People are more interconnected than ever with the help of social media accounts and employment profiles, and while this opens the door for friendships that would have otherwise never happened, it also creates an entirely new platform for bullying. This bullying also makes it possible for bullies to remain anonymous and thus free from the consequences of their actions, a set of circumstances which has allowed cyberbullying to grow into a full-fledged epidemic.

Why is this issue so pressing? Many see the conflict as one that deserves a healthy amount of skepticism, believing that bullying is somewhat inevitable and that children are responsible for their ability to learn how to cope with bullying. However, the connection between bullying and suicide has become more proven than ever before due to a recent report released by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

cyberbullying2Suicide and Suicide Attempts in Adolescents, a study published last month in Pediatrics, identified suicide as the number 2 cause of teen deaths. In a study carried out by the AAP almost a decade prior, teen suicide was found to be the third cause of teen death. The first cause of teen deaths in both reports remained unintentional injury.

The report also found that girls were twice as likely to attempt suicide as boys, though boys were three times more likely to succeed. Perhaps the most frightening statistic of all, four out of five teens who do commit suicide successfully don’t show any clear warning signs prior to the act. These warnings are so difficult to pick up on that the AAP has moved forward to ask pediatricians to be aware of heavy Internet usage and bullying when screening an adolescent for suicide risk.

Unfortunately, bullying remains an elusive problem to fix; there are time-tested mitigation tools that can be accessed and taught through education, professional insights, research studies and self-help books, but stamping out bullying all together is a tricky feat.

cyberbullying3Dorothy A. Miraglia, contributor to the upcoming book The Use of the Creative Therapies with Bullying and Aggression, has found that bullying can be combated by informing teens about the damage that it can do. She emphasizes especially that in our world of digital forums, teens need to remember to think before they post:

“Some teens may not understand words hurt, or exactly what cyberbullying is,” Miraglia told TechNewsWorld. “Teens should be taught what is appropriate to post and not post.”

In order to ameliorate the effects of bullying, it’s also important for victims to have access to guidance regarding how to deal with the abuse. Naomi Katz, author of Beautiful: Being an Empowered Young Woman, shared the following:

“Guide young people to cultivate a sense of confidence that can help support them when facing challenging situations. Encourage young people to remember that social media is only a small part of our social lives. Help them develop meaningful friendships that support positive growth.”

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