A project of the Child Trends News Service supported by the National Science Foundation

The Changing Face of Bullying

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — According to the latest research, the rate of bullying in America has dropped over the past 10 years, from a high of 32 percent to 21 percent in 2015. However, this still means that more than one in five students will be bullied this year.

Twenty-one year old Aija Mayrock is a performance artist, reciting her own rap or slam poems. She’s already a writer, publishing a book at age 17. It’s hard to imagine that this young woman used to be a child who was bullied.

“On Halloween of my freshman year, a girl I had never met who attended my old school dressed up as me as her costume,” Mayrock told an audience during a performance.

Deborah Temkin, PhD, is the program director for education research at Child Trends and an expert in bullying prevention. She said new research suggests that bullying can have long-term consequences. Kids bullied in childhood are more likely to be depressed or anxious as adults. They may have less earning potential. They may be more likely to be suicidal. Temkin said that, these days, technology plays a role early on.

Temkin told Ivanhoe, “Kids are now walking around addicted to their cell phones.”

Twelve percent of kids ages 12 to 18 report being victims of cyberbullying; 21 percent report being bullied in-person, but many other kids may suffer in silence. Temkin said less than half of those students report the behavior to an adult.

Temkin explained, “They worry often that parents will overreact, for instance. Jump to doing something that they fear makes the bullying worse.”

Temkin said that parents need to look for changes in their children. They also need to involve the school: understand the district’s bullying policy, who to report to, what the investigation procedures are, and how to appeal. Aija Mayrock said that when the bullying got bad, she set goals and focused on her future.

Mayrock told the crowd, “I need you to get up, hold your head up high, raise your hand, and say I will not let another kid feel like someone else’s prey.”

A generation ago, parents would advise kids to ignore school yard bullies and the teasing and taunting would go away. These days, constant, easy access to social media means that some may be taking bullying to a new level.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Roque Correa and Kirk Manson, Videographers.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. 

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