Cyberbullying in the News and Media

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Sheriff: Taunting post leads to arrests in Rebecca Sedwick bullying death

Updated 8:53 AM ET, Wed October 16th

Two girls arrested in teen's suicide

The attorney for a 14-year-old Florida girl charged with aggravated stalking that allegedly led to the suicide of a 12-year-old classmate told CNN that her client isn't responsible for a controversial Facebook post that led to the suspect's arrest.

Police on Monday arrested two girls, ages 14 and 12, in connection with the death of Rebecca Sedwick, who jumped from the top of an abandoned concrete plant last month.

Authorities said the 14-year-old girl was Rebecca's chief tormenter, and the girl posted a taunting message Saturday on the Internet about what had happened.

"Yes IK I bullied REBECCA nd she killed her self but IDGAF," the Facebook post read. Grady Judd, sheriff of Polk County, Florida, said the online vernacular meant "I don't give a (expletive)."

The 14-year-old's lawyer, Andrea DeMichael, told CNN her client "says that this is not as clear cut as it seems."  Read the full story here.


Cyber Bullying Stories: The  Megan Meier Case (1992 – 2006)

The Cyberbullying Story: In December 2007, Tina Meier founded the nonprofit Megan Meier Foundation. The non-profit was named in honor of Tina’s 13-year-old daughter who hanged herself in a bedroom closet in October 2006. Megan struggled with attention deficit disorder and depression in addition to issues with her weight.

About five weeks before her death, a 16-year-old boy named Josh Evans asked Megan to be friends on the social networking website MySpace. The two began communicating online regularly, although they never met in person or spoke on the phone.

“Megan had a lifelong struggle with weight and self-esteem,” Tina said on the Foundation website. “And now she finally had a boy who she thought really thought she was pretty.” Read the full story here.


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Documents Detail a Girl’s Final Days of Bullying

Phoebe Prince, the 15-year-old who killed herself after relentless taunting, spent her final days in fear of girls who had threatened to beat her up, according to the first official accounts released in a case in Massachusetts that gained wide attention last week, when six students were charged with felonies.

Ms. Prince, who entered South Hadley High last fall after moving from Ireland, was in emotional torment after weeks of being called an “Irish slut” and other names, and also became increasingly worried about the loudly voiced physical threats, students told investigators. She told a friend that she was “not a tough girl” and “would not know how to fight,” and at one point she asked friends to surround her as she walked in the hall.

Bill Evans, the assistant principal of South Hadley High School, spoke with parents on Monday after nine students were indicted. Phoebe Prince, 15, a freshman at South Hadley High School in western Massachusetts, hanged herself in January. Her family had recently moved from Ireland.

The documents were prepared by the district attorney for the Northwestern District in Massachusetts in support of charges against three 16-year-old students. They provide the first detailed accounts of verbal abuse and physical threats that prosecutors say were heaped upon Ms. Prince right up to the afternoon of Jan. 14, when she walked home crying and hanged herself from a stairwell.



Cyberbullying statistics from the Megan Meier Foundation Website

Cyberbullying has negative effects on victims, such as lowering self-esteem, increasing depression and producing feelings of powerlessness (Anderson, Bresnahan, & Musatics, 2014).

Among overweight adolescents, 61% have received mean or embarrassing posts online and 59% have received mean texts, e-mails or instant messages (Anderson, Bresnahan, & Musatics, 2014).

Because the National Crime Victimization Survey data is weighted to represent the entire enrolled 9th-12th grade student population, it is estimated that about 2.2 million students experienced cyberbullying in 2011. Of the 9% of students that reported being cyberbullied in the National Crime Victimization Survey compared to 6.2% in 2009 (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2013):

  • 71.9% reported being cyberbullied once or twice in the school year
  • 19.6% reported once or twice a month
  • 5.3% reported once or twice a week
  • 3.1% reported almost everyday

When asked about cyberbullying in the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCES, 2013):

  • 3.6% of students reported being cyberbullied with hurtful information on the internet
  • 1.1% reported private information being purposely shared
  • 1.9% reported unwanted contact via e-mail
  • 2.7% reported unwanted contact via instant messaging
  • 4.4% reported unwanted contact via text messaging

Of the students that reported cyberbullying (Zweig, Dank, Lachman & Yahner, 2013):

  • 25% of teens on social media reported having an experience resulting in a face-to-face confrontation with someone.
  • 13% reported concern about having to go to school the next day.
  • 12% reported being called names they didn’t like via text messages.
  • 11% received a text message from another student intended to hurt their feelings.
  • 8 % reported having physical altercations with someone because of something that occurred on a social network site. 
  • 6%reported another student sending an instant message or chat to hurt their feelings.
  • 4% reported having something put on a profile page to hurt their feelings.
  • 3% reported receiving a nasty email from another student.


Police file raises questions about bullying in Rebecca Sedwick's suicide

Updated 1:58 PM ET, Mon April 21st

It is a case about alleged bullying that garnered national and international attention.

Before she jumped to her death in September,12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick of Lakeland, Florida, was repeatedly bullied on- and offline, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at the time.

About a month later, Judd announced that two teens, 12-year-old Katelyn Roman and 14-year-old Guadalupe Shaw, were charged with aggravated stalking and accused of being Sedwick's chief tormentors.

But then, just a month after the arrests, the charges were dropped, with attorneys for the accused citing "zero evidence" of stalking in the case. (CNN does not typically identify minors who are charged as juveniles, but the network is doing so in this case because their identities have been publicized by law enforcement and have received broad publicity in local media.)

Now, as the extensive police file surrounding the case has become public, there are new questions about what evidence existed to back up claims that Roman and Shaw cyberbullied Sedwick and that their bullying, on- and offline, continued right up until her suicide, as alleged by the Polk County sheriff.  Read the full story here...  



When the Cyberbully Is You

Sure, the topic of cyberbullying is not new, but it feels different this time. The debate is happening everywhere: on radio shows, movies, books, talks, TV shows, blogs, book reviews and especially on social media.  A weekly column by Nick Bilton exploring how technology is shaping our lives.  See More »

“I think this conversation has been going on for awhile, but it’s getting this particular kind of attention now because it’s coming to the fore that anyone can be a victim of that kind of shaming,” said Jacqui Shine, a writer in Chicago who has written about online shaming and minorities. “Women of color online, especially on Twitter, have dealt with harassment and bullying for years.”

Women, Ms. Shine said, are often ridiculed on social media in ways that most men do not experience, sometimes being threatened with rape, having their addresses and Social Security numbers posted publicly, being sent death threats, having intimate photos uploaded and being called ghastly names.

One notorious incident that alludes to this, and one of the main through lines of Mr. Ronson’s book, is the now well-known story of Justine Sacco, a former public relations executive who has become a poster child for public shaming. (Ms. Sacco tweeted a racist joke about a trip to Africa that resulted in a cataclysmic mob of hundreds of thousands of people demanding her head.)  Read more here...


Family Dinners Protect Against The Effects of Cyberbullying



Cyberbullying Victimization and Mental Health in Adolescents and the Moderating Role of Family Dinners

Frank J. Elgar, PhD; Anthony Napoletano, BA; Grace Saul, BA; Melanie A. Dirks, PhD; Wendy Craig, PhD; V. Paul Poteat, PhD; Melissa Holt, PhD; Brian W. Koenig, MS  JAMA Pediatr. 2014;168(11):1015-1022. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.1223.

Importance  This study presents evidence that cyberbullying victimization relates to internalizing, externalizing, and substance use problems in adolescents and that the frequency of family dinners attenuate these associations.

Objectives  To examine the unique association between cyberbullying victimization and adolescent mental health (after controlling differences in involvement in traditional, face-to-face bullying) and to explore the potential moderating role of family contact in this association.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This cross-sectional, observational study used survey data on 18 834 students (aged 12-18 years) from 49 schools in a Midwestern US state. Logistic regression analysis tested associations between cyberbullying victimization and the likelihood of mental health and substance use problems. Negative binomial regression analysis tested direct and synergistic contributions of cyberbullying victimization and family dinners on the rates of mental health and substance use problems.

Exposures  Frequency of cyberbullying victimization during the previous 12 months; victimization by traditional (face-to-face) bullying; and perpetration of traditional bullying.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Five internalizing mental health problems (anxiety, depression, self-harm, suicide ideation, and suicide attempt),  ...Read more here...


Social-media cyberbullying not uncommon among youths

Mon Jun 22nd, 2:31pm EDT    /  

(Reuters Health) - About a quarter of adolescents experience cyberbullying through social media, according to a fresh look at some past research. Much of that past research also found links between cyberbullying and depression, the researchers write in JAMA Pediatrics.

"Social media use is so common among kids and adolescents," said Michele Hamm, the review's lead author from the University of Alberta in Canada. "We wanted to look at if there are documented harms associated with its use."  She and her colleague cite a 2012 report that 95 percent of American teenagers use the Internet. About 81 percent also use social media, it found. 

While social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, allow for extended social time with people, they also provide an environment for repeated and sustained harassment.

For the review, she and her colleagues analyzed data from 36 studies of cyberbullying on social media. The participants were mostly U.S. middle and high school students ages 12 to 18.  On average, about 23 percent of participants reported cyberbullying, but those rates varied among the studies from 11 percent to about 43 percent. 

Relationships were the most commonly cited reason for cyberbullying. Girls were also most likely to be on the receiving end of the cyberbullying, they found. 

"Most of the kids used very passive coping strategies," Hamm told Reuters Health. Those strategies included blocking the bully, not reporting the bullying and just ignoring the abuse.



Cyber-bullying causes more depression, study finds

Washington / Tue Sep 21st 4:14am EDT

Cyber-bullying may be even harder on the victims than physical beatings or name-calling, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.

And unlike traditional bullies, cyber-bullies seem to be less depressed than their prey, the team at the National Institutes of Health found.

Jing Wang, Tonja Nansel and Ronald Iannotti of the NIH's National Institute of Child Health and Human Development analyzed data from an international survey from 2005/2006 that included 4,500 U.S. preteens and teens.

They were asked specifically about feelings of depression, irritability, grouchiness and ability to concentrate, and also asked specifically if they had been hit, called names, shunned or sent negative messages via computer or cell phone -- or done any of these things to other people.

"Unlike traditional bullying which usually involves a face-to-face confrontation, cyber victims may not see or identify their harasser," Iannotti's team wrote in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

"As such, cyber victims may be more likely to feel isolated, dehumanized or helpless at the time of the attack."

Physical and verbal bullies are often depressed themselves. But while there was little difference in depression between physical bullies and their targets, the NIH team found that cyber-bully victims reported significantly higher levels of depression than frequent bullies.  Read more here...


Resources and information on Bullying and Bullies

  • Stop
    This website, managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides information from various government agencies on what bullying is, what cyberbullying is, who is at risk, and how you can prevent and respond to bullying.
    This comprehensive child health website for parents, created by the American Academy of Pediatrics, presents Bullying: It's Not OK , a page with information about bullying and how to help children who are victims of bullying or are bullies themselves.




United States Army set to crack down on cyber bullying

By Michelle Tan, Staff writer 5:12 p.m. EDT July 29, 2015:  The type of punishment commanders could hand down to soldiers will vary depending on the nature of the offending post, Prince said.

"For example, soldiers posting material that constitutes prohibited extremist activity, hazing, bullying, retaliation against a crime victim, or a threat of bodily harm are subject to prosecution under the UCMJ," he said. "Such activity may also violate state or federal criminal statutes."

The Army has been grappling with online behavior for a while, as social media becomes more and more pervasive. “I am concerned with the trend I am seeing regarding online bullying, cyber-stalking and retaliation,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno wrote in a June Facebook post. “This behavior is unprofessional and should not be acceptable to any of us.”

Social media has become an important part of social interactions and is a powerful tool for communicating and sharing ideas, Odierno said.

"However, we must remember that such tools come with the responsibility of knowing how to properly use them,” he said.

Social media is a place to explore ideas and express opinions, Odierno wrote.

“However, I expect soldiers to uphold our Army values, on and off duty, and treat each other with dignity and respect,” he said. “This applies to our day-to-day interactions, at the office, in the field, on deployment, and at home, both in person and across social media.”  Read more here...


We wish you all the best in your Cyberbully and bullying situations. Remember to DOCUMENT your situation very well - and the world will be on your side!

Take care,

The Staff at

America's Favorite Spy Warehouse



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