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Mental Health Woes Plague 'Cyberbullies' and Their Victims
Date:7/6/2010

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, July 6 (HealthDay News) -- Teens who "cyberbully" others via the Internet or cell phones are more likely to suffer from both physical and psychiatric troubles, and their victims are at heightened risk, too, a Finnish study finds.

The survey of almost 2,500 teens found that more than 7 percent of teens bullied other teens online, about 5 percent were targets of this aggressive behavior, and 5.4 percent said they were both bullies and bullied.

"People may wonder how similar teens in Finland are to teens in the U.S., but national research that I recently published indicates that rates of traditional bullying and victimization from bullying are very similar among kids in both countries," said Dr. Matthew Davis, an associate professor of pediatrics, internal medicine and public policy at the University of Michigan.

In fact, a recent U.S. survey of children aged 10 to 17 found that 12 percent were "aggressive" to someone else while online, 4 percent were victims of this type of online aggression, while 3 percent reported being both aggressors and targets.

The new study appears in the July issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

As defined by the researchers, cyberbullying includes aggressive, intentional, repeated acts using mobile phones, computers (including e-mails and Facebook) or other electronic media against victims who cannot easily defend themselves.

The widely publicized death in January of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince, a Massachusetts teen who took her life after months of relentless cyberbullying, swung a national spotlight on the issue. Parents have also become increasingly concerned about both bullying and their children's Internet safety, Davis said, and "for that reason, it is imperative that we track and address the problems of cyberbullying and cyberpredator behavior very actively in the near future."

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