"In March we got a call from her school that we needed to meet with the principal and the dean in the office, and that Chloe* was in some sort of trouble. We were told that she had been self-injuring, and had actually mutilated her whole upper right leg,” says Sheli Tucker*, whose daughter Chloe has been the victim of bullying—both at school and online.
We often think of bullying as something that happens at school or among children, with classic manifestations like hitting, teasing, name-calling, spreading rumors, or threatening harm. But bullying is not limited to school-age children, nor is it contained solely in face-to-face interactions.
With the rise of technology and social media, we’ve seen the advent of a new kind of aggression: cyberbullying. This phenomenon is certainly prevalent among children: according to the National Crime Victimization Survey, an estimated 2.2 million students—which is slightly larger than the population of Houston—experienced cyberbullying in 2011.
“Parents think it’s just ‘innocent’ schoolyard teasing, but it’s not. When a child is pushed to self-mutilation, it’s not innocent anymore,” explains Sheli.
In addition to school-age children, the often-silent victims of this new wave of bullying through social media are actually adults. MedicineNet.com reports that nearly 75 percent of adults have been the victim of cyberbullying. According to USA Today, a recent study done by the National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health showed that 10.7 percent of respondents have been cyberbullied at work. Though it does not provide raw numbers, the Cyberbullying Research Center says it actually receives more inquiries about coping with being bullied from adults than from kids.1