Teens bullied online are more likely than their peers to fall into depression, drug abuse, and Internet addiction, according to a new study in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
The study also found the converse to be true: adolescents who are depressed or use drugs can become targets of cyberbullying, according to a news release from Health Behavior News Service.
The key is to understand how being cyberbullied can lead adolescents to drug abuse and depression, said the lead author of the new study, Manuel Gamez-Guadix, Ph.D., of the University of Deusto in Spain, the Health Behavior News Service reported.
StopCyberbullying.org’s Parry Aftab, a child advocate and expert in cyberlaw, wrote in an email that depressed teens “may be depressed as a result of other targeting and a likely cybervictim, as such and they may be exhibiting loner/antisocial behavior, which often attracts cyberbullying.” However, Aftab said she is not sure the new study’s finding that drug users are targets of cyberbullying is accurate.
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Authorities have confirmed the tragic suicide death of a Queens, New York 12-year-old was due to the relentless bullying she was subjected to for several months beforehand from classmates.
According to Gabrielle Molina’s suicide note and accounts from her sister, 15-year-old Georgia, the seventh-grader took her own life because of persistent cyber-bullying, slut-shaming, and name calling from her middle school peers. It had just become too much.
Reports indicate it was Georgia who discovered her sister Gabrielle after she’d hanged herself inside her bedroom. Georgia had been sworn to secrecy, told not to reveal the abuse to their parents, though they knew Gabrielle was having some trouble at school.
The girl was often taunted by classmates over her appearance – victimized both face-to-face and online. Fellow students at Jean Nuzzi Intermediate School 109 in Queens who sent the upsetting messages are currently under investigation as officers removed computers from the Molina home in order to have them analyzed. Several students have been questioned since the incident, but no charges have been imposed.
Associates of Gabrielle said she’d got into a fistfight with another girl that was videotaped and posted on YouTube; she had a history of cutting herself and had recently broken up with a boyfriend – providing the bullies with fodder.
An Italian prosecutor has launched an investigation into how Facebook allowed the publication of insults and bullying posts aimed at a teenager, who later leapt to her death from her third floor bedroom window.
Carolina Picchio, 14, from Novara in northern Italy, committed suicide in January after a gang of boys circulated video on Facebook of her appearing drunk and disheveled in the bathroom at a party.
The group, aged between 15 and 17, were said to be friends of Miss Picchio’s ex-boyfriend. He had allegedly insulted her on Facebook when she left him days earlier, although he claims to have later apologized.
“Isn’t what you have done to me enough? You have made me pay too many times,” Miss Picchio wrote in a note to the boy which was found in her room by investigators.
Before taking her life, she wrote on Facebook: “Forgive me if I am not strong. I cannot take it any longer.”
The Italian Parent’s Association has already filed a criminal complaint in Rome directly against Facebook for allegedly having a role in the instigation of Miss Picchio’s suicide.