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Photo via Flickr/Creative Commons/Summer Skyes 11
Photo via Flickr/Creative Commons/Summer Skyes 11

It’s difficult enough being a teen, but a new study reports that cyberbullying correlates with greater chances for depression among teens, especially girls.

Published this week in JAMA Pediatrics, the study was led by Michele Hamm, a research associate with the Alberta Research Center for Health Evidence at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. Hamm’s team found that the median reported prevalence of cyberbullying among 12 to 18 year olds was 23 percent, or about one in five. The team did 36 studies, most in the United States, among middle and high school students.

In 10 of the studies, researchers found a “statistically significant association between cyberbullying and a report of depression.”

“Results indicate that the most common reason for cyberbullying is relationship issues, with girls most often being the recipients,” the Jama report states. “Responses to cyberbullying are most often passive, with a pervasive lack of awareness or confidence that anything can be done.”

The study’s authors researched 11 electronic databases from January 2000 to January 2012 to collect the data. They concluded that “there is a consistent relationship across studies between cyberbullying and depression among children and adolescents…This review provides important information that characterizes cyberbullying within the context of social media,” a.k.a. not by direct emailing, texting or Skyping.

“When children and youth are cyberbullied, they are often reluctant to tell anyone,” Hamm told the U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Prevention and management efforts are likely necessary at multiple levels, involving adolescents, parents, teachers and health care professionals.”

She continues: “Adolescents are often unaware that anything can be done about cyberbullying, so efforts should be made to increase education regarding how to address it and who to tell, focusing on both recipients and bystanders.”

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