~ By Colette
In the past several weeks, numerous reports and bulletins about teenage bullying and victimization have crossed my desk and bounced into my inbox. Given that the topic of teen bullying is on our production schedule in 2012, I have been especially interested in these reports. While each report could be the basis for numerous blog posts, I’d like to share a highlight or two from each.
- “Polyvictimization” is a fairly new term used to refer to exposure to more than one type of violence (e.g., youth who experience both sexual abuse and child abuse). A recent OJJDP report about Polyvictimization(released in Oct. 2011), finds that almost 40% of youth report experiencing polyvictimization in the previous year, with 8% of all youth experiencing seven or more different types of victimization or exposure to crime, violence, or abuse in that time frame. Of those youth who reported experiencing polyvictimization, bullying is often a component, with 70% experiencing bullying as one type of their victimization.
- A recent report by the Pew Research Center (released Nov. 9, 2011) finds that for most teens, social networking sites are positive places. However 20% of teens say that peers were mostly unkind to each other on social networking sites and 12% say they “frequently” witnessed cruel behavior. Of all the teens who used social media, 15% experienced meanness or cruelty themselves in the past 12 months. However, bullying is about more than being unkind or mean. Focusing more specifically on bullying, the Pew Report found that 19% of the teens reported being bullied in the past 12 months in at least one of four ways (in person, by text message, online, and by phone call). Half of these teens (50%) were bullied by just one mode, while the other half were bullied in more than one mode.
- A recent article in the Educational Researcher (published in Oct. 2011) finds that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) students are almost twice as likely as students identified as straight (34% vs. 19%) to report being bullied, threatened, or harassed over the internet or through text messaging. Of all the students, bisexual youth reported the highest levels of this type of victimization (45%).
- Sexual harassment at school is often considered a form of bullying, yet it is different than bullying in that it typically begins during adolescence and includes unwanted sexual behavior that interferes with a student’s education. A new report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) finds that 48% of all middle- and high-school students experienced some sort of sexual harassment in the school year, with most (87%) reporting it had a negative effect on them. This research examined both in-person sexual harassment and harassment that occurred through electronic means (e.g., texting, Facebook). 44% of the students (52% of girls, 35% of boys) experienced in-person harassment; and 30% of students (36% of girls, 24% of boys) experienced cyber-harassment.
We last devoted an issue to the topic of Bullying back in 2004, and I find it disheartening that it continues to be such a problem. As I continue to delve into the most recent research on bullying, and most especially bullying prevention and intervention, I welcome your thoughts about how we should be tackling this issue within The Prevention Researcher and the types of information you need as you work with youth. Please leave a comment below or email me directly at ckimball@TPRonline.org.
Colette Kimball is Associate Editor at The Prevention Researcher.