Students who are victims of cyber bullying at school are more likely to suffer depression than their tormentors, according to researchers.
Bullying, which traditionally involved physical violence, verbal harassment or social exclusion, now often includes "cyber" bullying, a form of electronic aggression. Cyber bullying allows bullies to engage in aggressive behaviours via computers or cell phones.
Previous studies on traditional bullying have found that bully-victims (those who both bully others and are bullied themselves) were at highest risk for depression.
This new study included students in grades six through 10 who completed a questionnaire designed to measure their levels of depression, and were asked whether they were either perpetrators or victims of bullying.
Different results from 'normal' bullying
"Notably, cyber victims reported higher depression than cyber bullies or bully-victims, which was not found in any other form of bullying," Jing Wang and colleagues at the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) wrote in their report, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
The study authors added that "unlike traditional bullying, which usually involves a face-to-face confrontation, cyber victims may not see or identify their harasser; as such, cyber victims may be more likely to feel isolated, dehumanised or helpless at the time of the attack."
The findings highlight the need to monitor and provide treatment for victims of cyber bullying, the researchers said in an NICHD news release.
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