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Teen Health 411

Cyberbullying and LGBT Youth

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Technology advances have given rise to cyberbullying through Web sites, chat rooms, email, cell phones and instant messaging, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are frequent targets.

A national study completed by researchers at Iowa State University reported that one out of every two LGBT youths reported being regular victims of cyberbullying. The examples of the cyberbullying reported included distribution of humiliating photos, false or private information, and targeting victims in cruel online polls.

This bullying causes emotional distress, and was frequently associated with depression (45%), embarrassment (38%), anxiety (28%), and in 26% of the victims, thoughts of suicide.

The online survey was completed by 444 junior high, high school and college students between the ages of 11 and 22. One of the saddest results for me was that the teens reported not being able to tell their parents for fear of having their access to technology and "the outside world" taken away. In addition, 57% of the youth reported that they did not think school administrators would do anything to stop the harassment.

The good news is that the youth felt the cyberbullying could be stopped if their peers would stand up for the targets/victims. We can all help - do not tolerate bullying!

Photo credit: David Michael Morris
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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