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Report: 21% Girls Complain of Cyberbullying than 7% Boys

Some tech companies also are taking a stab at what seems like an intractable problem

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There are a lot of things to keep in mind when running an online auction site, and one of the best aspects of this is the bid process. VOA

Rachel Whalen remembers feeling gutted in high school when a former friend would mock her online postings, threaten to unfollow or unfriend her on social media and post inside jokes about her to others online.

The cyberbullying was so distressing that Whalen said she contemplated suicide. Once she got help, she decided to limit her time on social media. It helps to take a break from it for perspective, said Whalen, now a 19-year-old college student in Utah.

There’s a rise in cyberbullying nationwide, with three times as many girls reporting being harassed online or by text message than boys, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

The U.S. Department of Education’s research and data arm this month released its latest survey, which shows an uptick in online abuse, though the overall number of students who report being bullied stayed the same.

“There’s just some pressure in that competitive atmosphere that is all about attention,” Whalen said. “This social media acceptance — it just makes sense to me that it’s more predominant amongst girls.”

cyberbullying
Broken down by gender, 21% of girls in middle and high school reported being bullied online or by text message in the 2016-17 school year, compared with less than 7% of boys. Pixabay

Many school systems that once had a hands-off approach to dealing with off-campus student behavior are now making rules around cyberbullying, outlining punishments such as suspension or expulsion, according to Bryan Joffe, director of education and youth development at AASA, a national school superintendents association.

That change partly came along with broader cyberbullying laws, which have been adopted in states like Texas and California in recent years. The survey showed about 20%, or one in five students, reported being bullied, ranging from rumors or being excluded to threats and physical attacks in the 2016-17 school year. That’s unchanged from the previous survey done in 2014-15.

But in that two-year span, cyberbullying reports increased significantly, from 11.5% to 15.3%. Broken down by gender, 21% of girls in middle and high school reported being bullied online or by text message in the 2016-17 school year, compared with less than 7% of boys.

That’s up from the previous survey in 2014-15, the first time cyberbullying data was collected this specifically. Back then, about 16% of girls between 12 and 18 said they were bullied online, compared with 6% of boys.

The survey doesn’t address who the aggressors are, though girls were more likely to note that their bullies were perceived to have the ability to influence others.

cyberbullying
Many school districts, meanwhile, are beefing up social-emotional learning curriculum beyond just teaching children how to share and express their feelings in the early grades. Pixabay

Lauren Paul, founder of the Kind Campaign, said 90% of the stories she hears while working in schools are girls being bullied by other girls. The California-based nonprofit launched a decade ago to focus on “girl against girl” bullying through free educational programming that reaches about 300 schools a year.

Paul recalls meeting one girl who was obsessive about her social media accounts because a group of girls excluded her if she did not get enough likes or follows in any given week. She went so far as to painstakingly create fake profiles just to meet her quota.

“Most of the time — if not almost all the time — it’s about what’s going on with other girls,” Paul said. “It’s this longing to be accepted by their female peers specifically and feeling broken if they don’t.”

Though Paul primarily hosts assemblies and workshop exercises at middle and high schools, she said there’s been more demand to help younger and older students in recent years. The Kind Campaign has gotten more requests for elementary school presentations and now also regularly gets called to universities to work with sororities. The latest national data may spark new conversations about “Mean Girls” behavior, Joffe said, referring to 2004 movie starring Lindsay Lohan.

“It’s a school issue, but it’s just a reflection of broader societal issues,” Joffe said. “I’m not sure schools have any better answer than say, the Twitter company or Facebook. They’re also trying to find answers to what to do about abuses online.” Some tech companies also are taking a stab at what seems like an intractable problem.

cyberbullying
Bangladesh Trains thousands of School Girls to Fight Cyber crimes. A young school girl in Dhaka, Bangladesh, is teaching her mother how to use Facebook. (S. M. Ashfaque for VOA)

Instagram unveiled its latest feature this month that uses artificial intelligence to try to stop abuse. Users typing a potentially offensive comment on a photo or video will get a notification that reads: “Are you sure you want to post this?”

Many school districts, meanwhile, are beefing up social-emotional learning curriculum beyond just teaching children how to share and express their feelings in the early grades.

ALSO READ: Experts: Countries Need to Come up with Innovative Approaches to Deal with Cybersecurity Challenges

That’s something Manuela Slye, a Seattle mother with three teenagers, says is a must to prevent cyberbullying. The president of the Seattle Council Parent Teacher Student Association called on her school district to expand its “soft skills” lessons through high school, as is done in a neighboring school district.

Seattle Public Schools is working to expand such offerings, though a district spokesman said there hasn’t been a noted rise in cyberbullying among its students. “There needs to be social-emotional development teaching before it goes to cyberbullying, before it goes to doing something online and anonymously, and before you have a problem with someone,” Slye said. (IANS)

Next Story

Indian Cities Mumbai, New Delhi and Bengaluru face Majority of Cyber Attacks

As the digital footprint of India increases through capital intensive projects, hackers are targeting data and large scale disruption like never before

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Cyber Attacks
Smart cities, financial services and transportation sectors lead the rankings in terms of Cyber Attacks. Pixabay

 There has been a 26 per cent increase in Cyber Attacks in India and Mumbai, New Delhi and Bengaluru together accounted for roughly 38 per cent of all attacks in the July-September period, a new report said on Wednesday.

The report prepared by Bengaluru-headquartered telecom solutions provider Subex identified over 3,500 modular malware samples in the country, registering a whopping 37 per cent increase.

Smart cities, financial services and transportation sectors lead the rankings in terms of cyber attacks, said the “State of Internet of Things (IoT) Security Report” for the third quarter (July-September period).

“As the digital footprint of India increases through capital intensive projects, hackers are targeting data and large scale disruption like never before,” said said Vinod Kumar, Managing Director and CEO, Subex.

“The increase in cyber attacks against the country and the strong geopolitical correlation indicate high levels of interest in targeting our critical infrastructure. Hackers are working to improve their ability to monetize cyber attacks,” he warned.

Malware of varying degrees of sophistication are being reported from a variety of deployments, including new projects surrounding renewable energy.

Most malware detected (36 per cent) could be traced to sources on the Dark Web while as much as 14 per cent of malware couldn’t be traced to a known source pointing to the arrival of new actors and malware shops on the scene,” the findings showed.

Cyber Attacks
There has been a 26 per cent increase in Cyber Attacks in India and Mumbai, New Delhi and Bengaluru together accounted for roughly 38 per cent of all attacks in the July-September period. Pixabay

The detection of malware connected with critical infrastructure projects has also registered an increase.

“This implies that hackers are targeting large scale disruption and are working to increase the cost associated with managing such projects as also negatively impact future investments in them,” the report added.

ALSO READ: Things You Need to Consider before Filling a Lawsuit

Independent hackers are increasingly feeling the need to monetize cyber attacks as the unit cost of malware has risen in the last quarter. Further, it is becoming increasingly difficult to source high-grade malware from multiple sources due to various factors, the report added. (IANS)