Thursday, May 1st, 2014
Despite ongoing concerns about a violent culture and its affect on America’s youth, a new study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics has found that kids today may actually be exposed to less violent crime today than a decade ago. More from Time.com:
Mass shootings and severe cyberbullying cases have peppered the news over the past few years, suggesting that as a species, we’re getting more brutal, not less. But many researchers agree this is a common misconception. In actuality, violence is on the decline, and a new study published today in the journal JAMA Pediatrics finds that kids’ exposure to violence in particular has dropped significantly.
The researchers analyzed surveys of over 10,000 kids and caregivers in 2003, 2008 and 2011, and found that nationwide there were major drops in assaults involving weapons and injuries; assaults by peers and siblings; physical and emotional bullying; and sexual victimization. While acknowledging that it’s possible the children surveyed were not all entirely forthcoming — for kids under 10, the parent stayed on the phone during the conversation; the rest were passed the phone by a parent — researchers think that overall, respondents told the truth about their exposure to violence. “We probably have an undercount,” says study author David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center. “But the important thing for studying trends is that we have no reason to think that the undercounting is responsible for any of the trend findings.”
And the new results are consistent with other evidence that shows child maltreatment is dropping. The National Crime Victimization Survey, considered the nation’s premier source of information on criminal victimization, shows kids’ exposure to violent crime has fallen since 2008. Sexual abuse is also down, as are police reports of crime and homicide.
The researchers of the JAMA Pediatrics study have a few theories as to why. One is that the dissemination of violence prevention and intervention strategies, like school programs targeting bullying and dating violence, has been effective. Another, perhaps more surprising theory, is that the growing use of psychiatric medication among youth and adults has tamped down their aggression. And of course, there’s a theory that increased use of technology has resulted in less face-to-face violent confrontations.
There’s some contradictory evidence, though, too — for instance the data showing a rise in hospital-treated abusive-head-trauma cases from 2007 to 2009, and evidence that real-life bullying is still more prevalent than cyberbullying. “Claims by the media and researchers that cyberbullying has increased dramatically … are largely exaggerated,” researcher Dan Olweus, a psychologist at the University of Bergen, Norway, said in a statement.
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Tuesday, March 11th, 2014
Children who are bullied in school may be more than twice as likely to commit or attempt suicide than kids who do not experience bullying, according to a new study conducted in the Netherlands. Cyber-bullying, in which bullying words and threats are communicated via social media and other electronic means, was linked with an even higher suicide rate than bullying that happens in person. More from Reuters:
“We found that suicidal thoughts and attempted suicides are significantly related to bullying, a highly prevalent behavior among adolescents,” Mitch van Geel told Reuters Health in an email.
Van Geel is the study’s lead author from the Institute of Education and Child Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands.
He said it’s estimated that between 15 and 20 percent of children and teens are involved in bullying as the perpetrator, victim or both.
“Thus efforts should continue to reduce bullying among children and adolescents, and to help those adolescents and children involved in bullying,” he wrote.
While previous studies have found links between bullying and suicidal thoughts and attempted suicides, less is known about whether the association differs between boys and girls. Also, fewer studies have examined the role of cyberbullying.
For the new analysis, published in JAMA Pediatrics, the researchers searched databases for previous studies published on bullying.
They found 34 studies that examined bullying and suicidal thoughts among 284,375 participants between nine and 21 years old. They also found nine studies that examined the relationship between bullying and suicide attempts among 70,102 participants of the same age.
Overall, participants who were bullied were more than twice as likely to think about killing themselves. They were also about two and a half times more likely to attempt killing themselves.
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Friday, November 22nd, 2013
Katelyn Roman, a 13-year-old Florida girl whose felony charges were dropped yesterday in the case of a schoolmate’s suicide that was allegedly prompted by cyber-bullying, is telling the media, “I do not feel l did anything wrong.” In September, 12-year-old Rebecca Ann Sedwick took her life after her family said she was “absolutely terrorized” by cyberbullies who were taunting her on social media. Roman and another girl–unnamed because she is a juvenile, were charged with third-degree aggravated stalking last month, but the charges have been dropped. More from Today.com:
Katelyn and a 14-year-old girl whom TODAY is not identifying because she is a juvenile were charged last month after Polk County (Fla.) Sheriff Grady Judd saw a derogatory post on Facebook that he claims was written by one of them. The two girls were arrested after Judd said they were allegedly involved in the bullying of Rebecca Sedwick, 12, who committed suicide on Sept. 9, with the 14-year-old allegedly writing on Facebook, “Yes ik [I know] I bullied Rebecca nd she killed her self but IDGAF [I don't give a f---].”
Judd also publicly revealed the girls’ names and their mug shots at an Oct. 15 news conference and told TODAY on Oct. 16 that one of the girls did something “despicable” with the post on Facebook.
On Wednesday, the Florida state attorney’s office announced that charges had been dropped and withheld comment on its reasoning because both girls are juveniles. After his public outrage over the alleged bullying by the two girls last month, Judd said at a news conference Wednesday that he was “exceptionally pleased with the outcome of the case.”
“We see the children are going to get the services they need,’’ Judd told reporters, referring to both girls being in counseling. “That’s the best outcome for juveniles. Our goal is that these kids never bully anyone again.”
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Monday, September 16th, 2013
The recent suicide of Rebecca Ann Sedwick, a 12-year-old Florida girl who was the victim of cyberbullying has brought to national attention the alarming ways in which social media applications can be used by bullies to terrorize young people–all too often to deadly results. The New York Times has more:
Rebecca was “absolutely terrorized on social media,” Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County said at a news conference this week.
Along with her grief, Rebecca’s mother, Tricia Norman, faces the frustration of wondering what else she could have done. She complained to school officials for several months about the bullying, and when little changed, she pulled Rebecca out of school. She closed down her daughter’s Facebook page and took her cellphone away. She changed her number. Rebecca was so distraught in December that she began to cut herself, so her mother had her hospitalized and got her counseling. As best she could, Ms. Norman said, she kept tabs on Rebecca’s social media footprint.
It all seemed to be working, she said. Rebecca appeared content at her new school as a seventh grader. She was gearing up to audition for chorus and was considering slipping into her cheerleading uniform once again. But unknown to her mother, Rebecca had recently signed on to new applications — ask.fm, and Kik and Voxer — which kick-started the messaging and bullying once again.
“I had never even heard of them; I did go through her phone but didn’t even know,” said Ms. Norman, 42, who works in customer service. “I had no reason to even think that anything was going on. She was laughing and joking.”
Sheriff Judd said Rebecca had been using these messaging applications to send and receive texts and photographs. His office showed Ms. Norman the messages and photos, including one of Rebecca with razor blades on her arms and cuts on her body. The texts were full of hate, her mother said: “Why are you still alive?” “You’re ugly.”
One said, “Can u die please?” To which Rebecca responded, with a flash of resilience, “Nope but I can live.” Her family said the bullying began with a dispute over a boy Rebecca dated for a while. But Rebecca had stopped seeing him, they said.
Rebecca was not nearly as resilient as she was letting on. Not long before her death, she had clicked on questions online that explored suicide. “How many Advil do you have to take to die?”
In hindsight, Ms. Norman wonders whether Rebecca kept her distress from her family because she feared her mother might take away her cellphone again.
“Maybe she thought she could handle it on her own,” Ms. Norman said.
It is impossible to be certain what role the online abuse may have played in her death. But cyberbullying experts said cellphone messaging applications are proliferating so quickly that it is increasingly difficult for parents to keep pace with their children’s complex digital lives.
“It’s a whole new culture, and the thing is that as adults, we don’t know anything about it because it’s changing every single day,” said Denise Marzullo, the chief executive of Mental Health America of Northeast Florida in Jacksonville, who works with the schools there on bullying issues.
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Tuesday, June 12th, 2012
Paris Jackson, the 14-year-old daughter of the late pop music star Michael Jackson, has told Oprah Winfrey she has faced cyber-bullying. ABC News reports:
The 14-year-old invited Winfrey into her home and her life, and in many ways, she’s like any other teenager. She’s switched from homeschooling to attend high school, hangs out with friends and reveals that she has even dealt with bullying.
“People have tried [to bully], but it doesn’t always work,” she said. “At school and some people try to cyber bully me. They try to get to me with words, but that doesn’t really work.”
When asked by Winfrey if she thought her peers were jealous, Paris said: “Maybe, I don’t know.”
Image: Paris Jackson, via Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com
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