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The Psychiatric Issues Behind Cyberbullying

On 26 August 2010 by admin

Dr. Harold Koplewicz, The Huffington Post, 28 July 2010

Children and teens want to be normal, and when they struggle with psychiatric issues, they tend to have difficulty “fitting in.” Differences make these kids vulnerable to bullying experiences and attendant emotional turmoil. And those who experience cyberbullying may be at even higher risk for mental health problems. A study forthcoming in the Archives of Suicide Research found that youth who have been victims of cyberbullying are almost twice as likely as victims of traditional bullying to have attempted suicide.

Whatever more research can show us, it’s clear that to effectively deal with cyberbullying, we need to address the psychiatric problems that both motivate it and are exacerbated by it.

Peer aggression is never normal. While it doesn’t cause a child to develop a psychiatric disorder, it is a red flag for preexisting mental health problems and can contribute to depression, low self-esteem, irritability and feelings of hopelessness. Bullies usually have problems with impulse control and hyperactivity. Many of them have Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and a co-occurring conduct disorder.

Victims, on the other hand, are more likely than their peers to feel low self-worth and experience depression. Their feelings of low self-worth can be compounded when any form of bullying occurs, but their emotional response to cyberbullying may be especially devastating.

Since cyberbullying occurs in virtual space (and without physical contact), victims can experience the double anguish of being powerless to stop their harassment and unable to prove who’s harassing them. As for cyberbullies, they can be more vicious, their feelings of empathy minimized, since they don’t see the impact of their meanness.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-harold-koplewicz/the-psychiatric-issues-be_b_655556.html