Stories

Online bullying on the rise among girls

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Girls are facing the brunt of a rise in online bullying.

By the numbers: "21% of girls in middle and high school reported being bullied online or by text message in the 2016-17 school year, compared with less than 7% of boys," AP notes, citing Department of Education data. Two years earlier, "16% of girls between 12 and 18 said they were bullied online, compared with 6% of boys."

Why it matters: Well-meaning parents and educators are left to effectively play whack-a-mole.

  • In states like Texas and California, broad cyberbullying laws have been passed — and schools are increasingly adding strict cyberbullying rules.

The big picture: A generation of kids is growing up not knowing life without the social pressure and power that comes with online social networks, notes Axios' Stef Kight.

  • Social media has enabled youth activism in this generation, but has also been linked to bullying, mental health issues and rising suicide rates among young people.

Between the lines: These online platforms make it easier than ever to bully each other and it also allows you to do it anonymously so you can be mean and hurt people without the "uncool" look of being a bully, Axios' Juliet Bartz tells me.

  • Kind Campaign founder Lauren Paul told the AP 90% of the stories she hears while working in schools are of girls bullied by other girls.
  • One girl even created fake profiles to like her social posts, fearing that her friends would exclude her otherwise.

The bottom line: The pressures long faced by teen girls — from the clothes you wear at school to who you hang with— are now on a bigger stage, Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva said.

  • It's also your Instagram photos and whether your Snapchats and photos are popular.

Go deeper: Devices dominate teenagers' social lives