Cyberbullying vs Physical Bullying’s Impact on LGBTQ Youth
By Paul Langhorst
The Examiner recently posted a great article on the impact of cyberbullying vs. physical bullying on LGBTQ youth (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Questioning). The article by Gregory Kelly, suggests that cyberbullying has a far harsher impact on LGBTQ youth.
Citing the statistics below, Gregory suggests that cyberbullying is far more damaging to LGBTQ youth than physical bullying, because of the wide spread nature of cyberbullying vs. physical bully.
- LGB youth are 4 times more likely, and questioning youth are 3 times more likely, to attempt suicide as their straight peers. (2011, CDC, “Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Risk Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9-12: Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance”
- LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are up to 8 times
as likely to have attempted suicide as LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection. (2010, Family Acceptance Project™ “Family Acceptance in Adolescence and the Health of LGBT Young Adults”)
- Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives and one quarter report having made a suicide attempt (2007 , The American Association of Suicidology, Grossman, D’Augelli, “Transgender Youth and Life-Threatening Behaviors”)
- Approximately 20% of the students report experiencing cyberbullying in their lifetimes.
- Mean or hurtful comments (13.7%) and rumors spread (12.9%) online are the most common types of cyberbullying.
Physical bullying is typically one-on-one, or by a small group upon a single individual, which keeps the stigma of the attacks within a smaller sphere. Cyberbullying, played out on the internet and trough social media, can have a far wider reach to non-involved individuals (bystanders). For example, imagine that a popular student tweets that he/she thinks “Johnny Student is gay.” The popular student may have hundreds of Twitter followers, both at Johnny’s school and at others. Whether or not he is gay, Johnny’s life is instantly turned upside down. Such rumors spread like wildfire and Johnny is instantly cast as gay, causing him to battle emotionally internally and externally with the mantel. In addition, what starts online can lead to physical bullying to compound the matter.
Therefore, in the battle against bullying at your school or organization, pay special attention to reports of cyberbullying against LGBTQ youth, for those students may be at a greater risk of suicide than other students.
Psychological Impact of Bully Reporting by Victims
By Paul Langhorst May 22, 2012
Late last week I co-presented on a webinar with Dr. Nicole Yetter entitled Encouraging Bullying in the Online Age. (We will post a link to the archive of the webinar shortly.)
One thing I love about working in education is the opportunity to learn something new everyday and my experience on this webinar was no exception. As we have rolled out the CyberBully Hotline our information and promotional efforts have mainly focused on the benefits to the school that anonymous reporting can deliver when added to the overall bully prevention program. During the webinar Dr. Yetter presented brief, but powerful information on the positive, psychological impact on the victim or witness when they report on a bullying or harassment incident. Dr. Yetter summarized work by Dr. Peter Sheras and Sherill Tippins and their book: Your Child: Bully or Victim, Understanding and Ending School Yard Tyranny (Library Journal, 2002).
In summary, Dr. Yetter shared that:
- Students, who voice their concerns and successfully intervene, build courage to do the right thing.
- Children learn and feel satisfaction in knowing that they are saving others from future harm.
- When a child does a good deed, it helps to build and strengthen their self- esteem.
- Provide students with the opportunity to develop a sense of pride.
When implementing a bully prevention program, and specifically discussing with students the need to come forward and report on things that that are happening to them or that they see, educators should consider including discussion on the above points. It’s common sense that when a person shares their troubles or concerns with others, that it creates relief and an uplifting feeling. The fact that they are not the “only one to know what’s going on” is relief in itself.
The challenge for educators, administrators and counselors is to take action to resolve the situation. There is nothing more disheartening than to bare your soul to another and than have negative or no results as a consequence. Research also indicates (Olweus) that students often don’t report bullying because they feel that nothing will get done. It is important that the trust a student shares when making a report, be returned with positive action and results.