Urgent warning to parents that children are bullying each other online

The Internet has dramatically changed the way children interact over the decades.

Parents have been warned that a phenomenon, in which children bully each other online, is surprisingly common and has links to suicide.


Nearly 1 in 10 American teens admit to digitally self-harmingCredit: Alamy

According to researchers, “digital self-harm” is the act of anonymously posting, sending, or sharing hurtful content about yourself online.

Decades ago, a worried youngster could vent his frustrations with pen and paper.

These days, they’re much more likely to use an online forum or social media platform anonymously, according to scientists led by Florida Atlantic University.

Their study, published in the journal Child and Adolescent Mental Health, collected data from nearly 5,000 American middle and high school children (ages 11 to 18).

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About nine percent of teens in the study admitted to anonymously posting something mean about themselves online.

Five percent admitted to cyberbullying themselves.

About eight percent said they had seriously considered suicide in the past year, while 5.3 percent had attempted suicide during that time.

Those who self-harmed were five to seven times more likely to consider suicide and nine to 15 times more likely to attempt.

Non-heterosexual teens were more likely to consider suicide – 24.4% vs. 6.9%.

And 12-year-olds were the most likely to have thought about attempting suicide, but there was no age difference in legitimate suicide attempts.

Dr Sameer Hinduja, co-author of the study, said: “We identified a strong association between digital self-harm and suicidality.

“As such, it is imperative for medical professionals to screen for digital self-harm in order to address underlying mental health issues in young people that may occur before or alongside suicide.

“Additionally, parents and guardians need to let children know that they are available to dialogue, support and help address the root issues that may eventually manifest in digital self-harm.”

In an article on Psychiatric centerpsychologists have said children can digitally self-harm to get attention from friends and family.

Psychologist Sheryl Gonzalez-Ziegler, interviewed by NPRexplained that one girl described cyberbullying herself as a way to “beat them to the punch” by referring to other classmates who may have teased her.

In 2014, a British teenager took her own life and later found herself being bullied online.

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Hannah Smith, 14, died in 2013 and her family claimed she was ‘bullied to death’, after a number of incidents at school and elsewhere.

However, an inquest heard that after investigating her online accounts, it was likely Hannah herself who was writing comments online.


If you, or someone you know, needs help coping with mental health issues, the following organizations offer support:

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