Bullying in The Digital Age Presentations II and III Lita-Marie Townsend, MPH Laurie Heikkila
Presentation II contains background information on broader health issues related to cyber bullying
Presentation III explores technology and youth sexuality issues, including sexting, and abusive behaviors,
By the end of this module participants will:
Have a clear understanding of the impact of bullying behaviors on the individual, the family, the school and community.
Examine the increase in cyber-bullying incidents among young people
Understand the impact on the victim at school and at home
Identify health issues related to Bullying, individual, family, community
Examine the impact of cyber bullying on school climate
Impact of Bullying on the Individual
From previous discussions we know that bullying behaviors can have
negative effects socially and in regards to health. Some effects can
be the same in both the bully and in the victim.
perceived difficulties in emotions, concentration, behavior, or getting along with other people
infrequent helping behaviors
frequently smoking or getting drunk;
not feeling safe at school.
Physical symptoms of problems sleeping, chronic stomach pain, and headache
Impact of Bullying on the Family
Families of children involved in bullying situations may also
experience negative effects
Victims and perpetrators may become withdrawn from family and friends
Families may feel a sense of helplessness, or unable to explain or understand changes in child’s demeanor or behavior
Parents and family members may have increase in feelings of fear and worry for their child’s safety
Siblings may be affected by the situation at school and online, may wish to distance themselves
There may be a rise in tension in the home as the situation intensifies
Tensions between family and school may increase if parents are unable to find adequate help with the problem
Some families may not detect any problem at all
Impact of Bullying on the School
Many schools are under pressure and scrutiny to create and enforce
new policies to encompass cyber bullying, and harassment.
Schools are increasingly held accountable for some aspects of cyber bullying, even if the acts take place off school grounds, after school hours
Online harassment carries over into the school day, taking away from instructional time
Ensuring school is a safe environment for all becomes increasingly difficult
Incidents can turn into legal/ liability issues for schools
Can have an impact on student attendance
Safety of faculty and staff can be at risk also
Potential increase of physical violence at school
Increase of Cyber bullying Incidents
We have also explored the increase of cyber bullying
among young people, as well as contributing factors:
93% of teens 12-17 go online
75% of teens have a cell phone
73% of teens use an online social network site
In five years, ownership of cell phones and other devices has increased; from 39% to 66%, and 18% to 76%, respectively
Anonymity and lack of face to face contact seems to embolden the perpetrators of bullying behavior
Perpetrators have increased options and ‘venues’ with which to make contact with their victims
Impact of Cyber bullying on Health
Cyber bullying contributes negatively to an individuals overall health
especially in the areas of Mental Health, and Violence and Injury.
The Mental Health indicator encompasses depression, grief, and loss, as well as feelings of anxiety, isolation, fear, anger, and rage
Mental Health affects a person’s ability to function normally, to participate in activities that one enjoys, and to be generally social
Oftentimes, changes in the above mentioned areas are red flags when dealing with young people, especially if bullying or aggressive behaviors are present
The Violence and Injury health indicator encompasses both, accidental injury and incidents of violent altercation
Suicide and suicide attempts would also be addressed in this indicator
Prevention of violence in schools should consist of awareness building, alternative behaviors, as well as psycho-social skill building
According to the Center for Social and Emotional Education:
While there may be no hard and fast definition of School Climate ,
Reflects subjective experience in school
Has a profound impact on individual experience
Has been shown to affect students’ self esteem (specifically commitment to school and positive feedback from teachers)
Is comprised of ten essential areas of influence: Environmental, Structural, Safety, Teaching and Learning, Relationships, Sense of School Community, Morale, Peer Norms, School-Home and Community Partnerships, and Learning Community
Any number of these areas could be affected by aggressive and bullying behaviors
Having these areas strong and intact could prevent aggressive and bullying behaviors
Center for Social and Emotional Learning
“ positive school climate is a critical dimension linked to effective risk prevention and health promotion efforts as well as teaching and learning”
“ effective risk prevention and health promotion efforts are correlated with safe, caring, participatory and responsive school climate”
“ Safe, caring, participatory and responsive school climate tends to foster great attachment to school as well as providing the optional foundation for social, emotional and academic learning”
“ One of the fundamentally important dimensions of school climate is relational and how “connected” people feel to one another in school.”
If this is true, then it could be said that cyber bullying works by stripping away the ‘safety’ of healthy school climate, and isolating victims.
Impact on Individual, Family, School, Community
Health issues such as depression, anxiety, fear, as well as physical ailments surface in youth involved in either side of a bullying situation
These behaviors can escalate to threats of and actual physical violence
Family life is affected by these ‘symptoms’, families and siblings may also be drawn into physical altercations.
Schools increasingly have to deal with issues spilling into the school day, when safety is their number one concern. Cyber issues and rumors are hard to prove or disprove, therefore administrators have to take each incident seriously, which is time consuming.
School attendance and participation can be affected, as are daily learning and achievement.
Communities may suffer as situations escalate, and law enforcement becomes involved, this takes man power, and time
Is it better for schools to attempt to prevent aggressive and bullying behaviors online, or only deal with situations that take place at school?
Should schools be held legally responsible for incidents of cyber bullying? In what instances would you say yes? In what instances would you say no?
Should schools be responsible for educating students about cyber bullying?
Should schools offer education and assistance to parents regarding online behavior and cyber bullying?
What are some steps that public health and other government agencies do to assist schools and communities in education about and preventing cyber bullying?
Youth, Sexuality, Technology
and the Law
By the end of this module participants will:
Have a general understanding of youth sexual behaviors locally and nationally
Have a general understanding of laws governing youth sexual behavior
Identify risks associated with youth sexual behavior exhibited online and through technology
Examine emerging laws and policies created for youth sexual behaviors exhibited online and through technology
Understanding the Data
Much of what we know regarding youth and sexual behaviors and other health behaviors is learned by surveys
Generally self reported, anonymous surveys, weighted data
Weighted data is adjusted to represent the sample from which it was drawn (9000 teens surveyed could be weighted to represent the entire county)
One of the most reliable of these surveys is the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, from the Center for Disease Control (CDC)
YRBS survey results are typically available for a large amount of municipalities and 46 states each year
Local YRBS Data
2006-2007 Cuyahoga County YRBS
Roughly 5000 HS students surveyed
38% of those surveyed reported ever having had sex in their lifetime
Of the 38%:
10.8 percent were 12 or younger at first sexual activity
30.7 percent were 13 or 14
48.5 percent were 15 or 16
10 percent were 17 or older
This report found that usually there was a large age difference between the surveyed student’s age and the age they reported for their partner.
National YRBS Data
Between 1991 and 2009, the following three behavior categories saw
significant decreases among American teens:
Ever had sexual intercourse
Had intercourse with four or more people
Had intercourse with at least one person
In 2009, the percentage of U.S. High School students:
Who ever had intercourse was 46%
Who had sexual intercourse with 4 or more people was 13%
Who used a condom at last intercourse was 61%
Age of Consent
Legal age of consent varies slightly from state to state
In Ohio, the age of consent is 16
In Ohio it is illegal for any person of any age to have sexual relations with a child 13 or under, this is automatically classified as rape
In Ohio, statutory rape generally refers to anyone 18 or over having sexual relations with someone who is over 13, but is not yet 16, which is the legal age of consent
Age of Consent cont.
In Ohio, Age differentials apply when someone is less than 15 or under, in determining the severity of crime or penalty (15 year old with 14 year old for example)
Until a teen has reached the ‘age of majority’, 18, the parents still have all legal say in relationships and can press charges ranging from contributing to delinquency of a minor to filing ‘unruly child’
See Ohio Revised Code 2907.04
Teens and Abusive Relationships
According to the State of Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services:
Dating abuse isn't an argument every once in a while, or a bad mood after a bad day. Dating abuse (or relationship abuse) is a pattern of controlling behavior that someone uses against a girlfriend or boyfriend . Abuse can cause injury and even death, but it doesn't have to be physical . It can include verbal and emotional abuse - constant insults, isolation from family and friends, name-calling, controlling what someone wears, and can also include sexual abuse. (Love Is Respect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline 2009)
Teens and Abusive Relationships
24% of 14 to 17-year-olds know at least one student who has been the victim of dating violence, yet 81% of parents either believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it is an issue. (Survey commissioned by the Empower Program, sponsored by Liz Claiborne Inc. and conducted by Knowledge Networks, Social Control, Verbal Abuse, and Violence Among Teenagers, December 2000)
1 out 11 teens report being a victim of physical abuse each year. (Choose Respect 2009)
Teens and Abusive Relationships
62% of tweens (age 11-14) who have been in a relationship say they know friends who have been verbally abused (called stupid, worthless, ugly, etc.) by a boyfriend/girlfriend. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2008).
Nearly three in four tweens (72%) say boyfriend/girlfriend relationships usually begin at age 14 or younger. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2008).
1 in 5 teens who have been in a serious relationship report being hit, slapped or pushed by a partner. (Liz Claiborne Inc. 2006)
Technology and Dating Abuse
Abusive relationships now include abuse or control through technology, especially texting
Constant texts demanding to know where the partner is, who they are with, and what they are doing are considered abusive
Checking one’s phone for evidence of cheating or other wrong doing is considered abusive also
Any use of technology to threaten, control, or incite fear is abusive
Technology and Dating Abuse
Technology is an especially dangerous feature of abusive relationship
for several reasons :
These means are typically private allowing for the victim to hide aggressive messages, harassment, and threats for longer periods of time
These means make it easy for the aggressor to have constant contact with their victims regardless of curfew or obligations
Harrassing messages by phone can be difficult to block. Online blocking may require only a click of a button, while cell companies require you to visit their website, and may have a limit of numbers you can block
Textual Harrassment; Anna North
Sexting and the Law
Sexting refers to taking or sending nude or sexually explicit photos, or
video content, of oneself or someone else and sending them
electronically to another party, can also include highly sexual text/voice
only messages, without pictures.
Current law regards exchanging nude photos of a minor, (distributing child pornography) can be a felony offense, requiring sex offender registration,
This is true even if the persons in the picture are minors, taking photos of themselves
Sexting and the Law
In July 2010,
Ohio passed a ‘sexting’ bill specific to teens that allows for a charge and punishment, but removes the risk of being labeled a sexual predator
However, that bill has not been acted on in the Ohio Statehouse, so the child pornography law still stands.
As of March 2011
Legislation has been reintroduced to make ‘sexting’ a first degree misdemeanor for minors punishable with no more than 6 months in prison, and a $1,000 fine.
The child pornography law could still be enforced in cases where malicious intent is proven
Teens and Sexting
According to a survey by the National Campaign and Cosmo Girl of 653
teens aged 13-19:
More than between 20% and 25% of teens admit to sending and/or receiving nude or sexual images
Half teens surveyed do not see texting as a ‘big problem’
Half said it is ‘a big problem’, yet did it anyway
39% of teens have posted sexually suggestive messages
66% of girls and 60% of boys said they did it to be fun or flirtatious
Teens and Sexting cont
52% of girls did it as a sexy present for their boyfriend
44% of boys and girls say they sent these messages in response to content they received
40% of girls said they sent these messages as a joke
34% of girls said they sent these messages to “feel sexy”
Risks of Sexting
Pictures can be passed on to unintended parties
Teasing, feelings of shame, humiliation
Reputation can be damaged
Parents, teachers can find out
Feelings that ‘everyone knows’
Pictures posted electronically should be viewed as ‘permanent’
The case of Jessica Logan is tragic, but instructive.
Ms. Logan and some friends took nude photos of themselves while on spring break in 2008 and she chose to send hers to her boyfriend at the time. He promptly forwarded the photo, and it spread throughout her school. This led to frequent and persistent sexual harassment from her peers and she started skipping school. She did manage to graduate in the face of this social humiliation , but the scars ran deep. A month after graduation, after attending a visitation for a friend who had committed suicide, Jessica Logan hanged herself in her room. Her parents are now suing her school for not taking action against the students responsible for the harassment.( Cincinnati.com )
Case Studies cont
13 year old, Hope Whitsell, spontaneously sent some ‘racy' photos to get the attention of her crush. Apparently, a ‘romantic rival' found the boy's phone unattended and forwarded the photos on to classmates and friends. Whitsell was suspended for the photo and when she returned to school was subjected to severe and pervasive sexual harassment. A school counsellor noticed that Hope was harming herself due to some marks on her legs and had her sign a ‘no-harm' contract. Ironically, she hung herself the next day. ( inquistr.com )
While many students now have cyber bullying policies, much of what
we see, especially with sexting, or ‘sextual harrassment’ falls under our
sexual harassment policies, or Title IX.
School officials must have actual knowledge of the harassment
2. School officials demonstrate deliberate indifference to harassment or take actions that are clearly unreasonable
3. School officials have substantial control over both the harasser and the context in which the known harassment occurs
4. The harassment is severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it can be said to deprive the victim(s) of access to the educational opportunities of benefits provided by the school. ( Davis v. Monroe , 1999) http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/gender-and-schooling/200912/sexting-and-suicide
In your opinion, in what ways has youth sexual behavior changed since you were a teen?
In terms of severity, how is ‘sexting any different than ‘mooning’ or ‘streaking’ or ‘flashing’?
What steps can schools take to prevent incidents of ‘sexting’?
What steps can parents take to prevent instances of ‘sexting’?