AP Poll: More teens seek help for cyberbullying

Posted: Updated:
By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

ORLANDO -- According to a new poll by AP-NORC and MTV, increasing numbers of teens and young adults are turning to family members and trusted adults to report electronic abuse. Higher rates of those who did also say it made the situation better.

"When you're bullied online, you can move away but as soon as you turn on the computer it's still going to be there," said Sarah Ball, who became a target of online bulling when she was 15.

Ball eventually spoke out, and found her voice creating the 'Unbreakable' movement, an outreach program that has gotten the attention of lawmakers in Florida.

More young adults like Ball are opening up about cyberbullying according to a new poll by AP, NORC and MTV.

Forty-four percent reported seeking help from their family, up 9 percent from 2011. Sixty-six percent of those who did say it made the situation better.

"Youth previously were a lot more hesitant to talk to adults because they were afraid that those adults would take away the technology or they would be labeled a tattle tale or the situation would get so much worse," said Dr. Sameer Hinduja, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center.

Putting an end to bullying is something about which Nicole Stanton, wife of Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, is passionate. To that end, she launched the Stop Bullying AZ initiative in 2012. When Stanton hosted the Arizona Anti-Bullying Summit at Arizona State University to launch the initiative last year, she called bullying “a malignancy that has afflicted our schools for way too long.”

Her goal is to empower not just victims of bullying, but also bystanders who witness it.

The issue is close to her heart. Her older brother was bullied when they were kids. These days, bullying doesn’t just happen in schools, it also happens online.

“Because of cyberbullying, because of the social networking aspect of it, you can’t escape it,” Stanton told 3TV’s Kaley O’Kelley earlier this month. “It’s pervasive. … Parents oftentimes don’t know what’s going with their kids.”

While some kids who are targets of bullies are still reluctant to come forward, there are signs for which parent can watch.

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Lost/damaged items (i.e. clothes, books, electronics, jewelry
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches
  • Faking illness to avoid school or activities
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Decreased self-esteem
  • Self-destructive behavior

October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.