The wealthy and poor alike are victimized by cyberbullying

Harold Mandel's picture

As we find ourselves spending more and more time in cyberspace on a myriad of new and exciting devices the problem of cyberbullying has emerged as a threat to our well being. It appears that cyberbullies have not been discriminating on the basis of financial well being when it comes to targeting their victims. The wealthy and poor alike are being victimized by cyberbullying.

Past research has investigated the effect of individual-level and neighborhood-level predictors of bullying victimization separately. This current study examines these effects collectively reported the Journal of Criminal Justice. The researchers randomly selected middle and high school students within a Southeastern school district to complete a battery of self-report measures.

Levels of self-control, seen as an individual-level factor, and neighborhood disorganization, seen as a neighborhood-level factor, were figured into measures of the six-week prevalence of verbal, physical, and cyberbullying victimization. It was observed that low self-control and neighborhood disorder were associated with each type of bullying victimization.

It was concluded that economic and social decay within neighborhoods increased the likelihood of being victimized by bullying. These effects were seen to hold true across verbal, physical and cyber victimizations. This suggests a need to consider these community characteristics when implementing bullying intervention campaigns. Furthermore, the findings have suggested a need for more research considering the relationship between self-control and neighborhood conditions in regard to the risk of victimization in general.


The phenomenon of cyberbullying isn’t simply a problem in middle class and affluent regions reports Michigan State University. Research led by a Michigan State University criminologist has found that teenagers who live in poor, high-crime neighborhoods are also hit with online bullying.

Thomas J. Holt, a Michigan State University associate professor of criminal justice, has said that it has been found that neighborhood conditions which indicate poverty and crime are a significant predictor for bullying. This bullying is in consideration of not just physical and verbal bullying, but cyberbullying as well.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention it has been estimated that about 30 percent of American kids have experienced a bullying incident, either as a victim or as the bully. There is a greater risk for academic and mental health problems and even for suicide in victims of bullying. Although it is still not as prevalent as traditional bullying, cyberbullying is becoming a growing problem.

In 2011 there were an estimated 2.2 million students in the United States who were harassed or threatened online. According to the Cyberbullying Research Center this was up from approximately 1.5 million in 2009. Holt and colleagues analyzed the survey results of almost 2,000 middle- and high school students for this study. They found that living in poor, crime-plagued neighborhoods served as a significant predictor of physical, verbal and online bullying, above and beyond individual characteristics such as self-control.

Clearly bullying has become an almost epidemic problem with cyberbullying becoming an increasingly common form of bullying alongside verbal and physical bullying. In consideration of the potential for very serious consequences associated with bullying such as academic problems, mental health problems, and even suicide this problem should not be ignored.

Teachers and parents alike should confront the problem of bullying and discuss it with kids. Furthermore, public health campaigns should be encouraged to address the problem of bullying. In all instances the serious problem of cyberbullying must now also be confronted alongside verbal and physical bullying. Whether you choose to look upon bullies from any walk of life as being sick themselves, or criminals, they represent a serious threat to the well being of their victims.