A recent report finds that cyberbullying is on the rise, particularly among young girls. Helping to tackle these issues are an array of nonprofits, as well as supporters with school groups.
The rise of cyberbullying has only worsened in recent years, and the impact is being felt by girls much more than boys.
That’s according to recent research from the National Center for Education Statistics, which reported recently that three times as many girls (21 percent) reported being harassed using text messages or in online mediums as boys (7 percent).
It’s a situation that educators and the groups that support them are watching closely. In comments to the Associated Press, Bryan Joffe, director of education and youth development at AASA, The School Superintendents Association, suggested that the issue is one that should lead to broader discussions.
“It’s a school issue, but it’s just a reflection of broader societal issues,” Joffe told the wire service. “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.”
(He did note, however, that school districts had more actively gotten involved in combating cyberbullying.)
Efforts to help solve the problem have gained steam both with social networks and governments. Earlier this year, the United Kingdom announced plans to introduce laws that would regulate services to limit cyberbullying, while Facebook-owned Instagram has increased its efforts to fight bullying, including by adding features aimed at preventing victims of bullying to have to report attacks themselves and using artificial intelligence to help stop bullying attempts at the source.
“We are in a pivotal moment,” Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, told Time earlier this month. “We want to lead the industry in this fight.”
Moves by social networks build upon existing efforts that have grown from the grassroots and from educational bodies. In one example cited by the AP, the Seattle Council Parent Teacher Student Association has encouraged its district to increase education efforts focused on “soft skills.”
Nonprofits are also working to mitigate cyberbullying. For example, the Kind Campaign, a group specifically focused on girl-against-girl bullying, has helped to build awareness against such issues, whether they arise in classrooms or on social media.
“Most of the time—if not almost all the time—it’s about what’s going on with other girls,” founder Lauren Paul told the AP. “It’s this longing to be accepted by their female peers specifically and feeling broken if they don’t.”
One other high-profile tool in the fight will come this October, when the nonprofit Stomp Out Bullying puts on the World Day of Bullying Prevention.
Stomp Out Bullying has helped fight cyberbullying in schools, but it’s also leveraged momentum outside of the school environment as well. One example comes from director Paul Feig, who faced a litany of highly targeted criticism for helming the 2016 all-female Ghostbusters reboot.
Feig, who also created the TV show Freaks and Geeks that frequently dealt with issues of bullying, made something positive out of the situation with Stomp Out Bullying. In 2017, he teamed with J. Crew to create a clothing line that supported the nonprofit. Despite the film being released more than three years ago, he remains active in anti-bullying campaigns—because he knows they’re necessary.
“I’m 56 years old now and I get bullied constantly online,” Feig told Cheddar earlier this year.