Cyberbullying: The New Virtual School Yard

By 10/07/2016Blog

School yard and cyberbullying cause lasting self-image and self-esteem challenges carried from adolescence to adulthood

Gone are the days when the talk of bullying was only within the school yard, face-to-face with the class bully. Unfortunately, the experience of bullying has gone beyond the school yard, and has reared its ugly head in post-secondary education and the workplace. Girls and young women are often bullied about their appearance and abilities, and these attacks have tremendous impact on the self-image and self-esteem.

Bullying during Adolescence and School Age

Advances in technology and the sense of anonymity provided by social media have contributed to the rise of cyber-encounter bullying.  In a 2013 study partially funded by NIMH, JAMA Psychiatry asserted that both bullies and victims are at risk for prolonged psychiatric problems (i.e., depression, substance abuse).  In further support, a 2015 LiveScience study identified a link between individuals who developed psychiatric disorders as adults, having been frequently bullied as early as age 8. A 2014 Pediatrics publication stated that bullying was associated with worse mental and physical health, greater depression symptoms, and lower self-worth over time among school aged children.

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In a 2012 study, authors Shari Kessel Schneider, Lydia O’Donnell, Ann Stueve, and Robert W.S. Coulter surveyed 20, 406 9th – through 12th-grade high school students in Massachusetts and found that students who were victims of cyberbullying were also victims of school bullying.  The most disturbing finding from this study was that “distress was highest” among those who were a victim of both cyber and school bullying, demonstrating depressive symptoms and suicide attempts.  A 2011 International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health declared that school bullying is a public health concern facing children and adolescents.

An Impediment to Productive Adulthood

The issue of bullying in the workplace is a nightmare for Human Resources and the victims of bullying. Research spanned over the past 30 years suggests the problem is widespread across industries (businesses, academia, social services, government jobs, and the medical profession) and at different levels within an organizational structure. While bullying in the workplace impacts both genders, a 2012 research focused on women because of the unique impact bullying continues to have on this group. Eliminating bullying is the ideal outcome, but given the nature of human dynamics, reducing bullying and remedying its impact on mental health, self-image, and self-esteem continues to be the focus of many ongoing research efforts.

ARDX Raises Awareness to Address Gaps in Behavioral Health

ARDX believes strongly in creating innovative ideals that foster integrated systems of change to promote overall health and well-being.  This year’s 9th Annual Women’s Wellness Celebration is themed “Mental Health Matters: Opening Eyes. Opening Minds.” ARDX hopes to raise awareness and promote action about the mental health well-being of girls and women by integrating the roles of policymakers, community leaders, practitioners, and families.

It is worth everyone’s time to attend and hear expert speakers and panelists from varying local and national organizations address these modern day mental health issues. The information received at the Women’s Wellness Celebration conference will be life-changing. Don’t miss out on this opportunity!

About the Authors

Rolande Murray, PhD – Dr. Murray is an Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Psychology and Rehabilitation Counseling at Coppin State University in Baltimore, MD, and serves as a Behavioral Health Expert on the ARDX Healthcare Expert Advisory Board (HEAB).

Lateefah Hughes, Dr.P.H. – Dr. Hughes is the Chair of the ARDX Healthcare Expert Advisory Board.  Dr. Hughes served as the former Deputy Director of Payment Policy and Financial Management, and former Director of the Division of Risk Adjustment Operations at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight.