Cyberbullies also Show Signs of PTSD, Study Finds

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms can not only in be visible in victims but cyberbullies as well, according to a new study. These findings were published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

The study was conduced in over 2,000 UK teens in which it was seen that over a quarter of cyberbullies suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms too.

Bullying is repeated aggressive behavior that can be physical, verbal, or relational, in-person or online. Bullies are often relentless, bullying over and over again for long periods of time. This can lead victims to live in a perpetual state of fear and anxiety all the time.

Cyberbullies on the other hand use digital technology to harass, threaten, or humiliate victims. Unlike traditional bullying, cyberbullying doesn’t require face-to-face contact and isn’t limited to just a handful of witnesses at a time. It also doesn’t require physical power or strength in numbers.

Source: Pew Research Center

Just through internet a bully can affect mental and physical health of his or her victims. This latest study now suggests that not only the mental health of victims is at stake but bullies themselves can suffer long time consequences.

In the study more than 2,200 teens of ages 11 through 19 from four London schools were questioned. The researchers used the Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire to first narrow down the types of bullying.

They found out that one of four teens were involved in cyberbullying and one in three teens were involved in traditional bullying.

Of all the respondents, nearly 75% of the teens filled out the Children’s Revised Impact of Events Scale to screen for PTSD symptoms.

Among them 35 percent of cyberbully victims scored above the threshold for PTSD symptoms, while 29% of the teens who did the cyberbullying showed signs of PTSD.

The researchers found out that people were likely to be both cyberbullies and traditional bullies but cyberbullies were less likely to also be traditional bullies.

Of 2218 pupils, 46% reported a history of any kind of bullying. Among them 34% were involved in traditional bullying and 25% in cyberbullying. Of these 46 percent, 17% were victims, 12% were perpetrators, and 4% were both victims and perpetrators.

A significant proportion of those who were cyber-victims (35%), cyberbullies (29.2%) or cyberbully and victims (28.6%) presented clinically significant PTSD symptoms.

Cyber-victims (both cyber-only and cyberbully-victims) suffered more intrusion and avoidance than cyberbullies.

However, cyberbullies still suffered more PTSD symptoms than the non-involved ones. Post-traumatic stress symptoms were significantly predicted by both cyber and traditional victimization.

Source: Child Protection Hub for South East Europe

All of this led the scientists to conclude that cyberbullying seems to be associated with multiple types of PTSD symptoms, for both the victims and the bully. Cyber and traditional victimization significantly predicted intrusion and avoidance.

The Scientists advised pediatricians, general practitioners and mental health professionals to be aware of possible PTSD symptoms in young people involved in cyberbullying. The also advised that screening and early cost-effective treatments could be implemented.

Posttraumatic stress disorder is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who usually have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war, rape or other violent personal assault.

Many people with PTSD also have a number of other problems, including mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety or phobias, self-harming or destructive behavior, such as drug misuse or alcohol misuse, and other physical symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, chest pains and stomach aches.

Source: Diocese of Southern Ohio Social Justice and Public Policy

PTSD can also lead to problems at school and the breakdown of relationships. Kids who bully others have been also reported to have a higher risk of abusing alcohol and drugs. They are also more likely to get into fights, vandalize property, and drop out of school.

Bullies are twice as likely as their peers to have criminal convictions as adults and four times more likely to be multiple offenders. As adults, bullies are more likely to be abusive toward their romantic partners, spouses, or children.

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