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Cyberbullying is Worsening an Already Difficult Situation for Teens

First Posted: Oct 19, 2013 11:14 AM EDT

The question of whether teenage girls are getting meaner comes after the bully-provoked suicide of 12-year-old Florida teenager Rebecca Ann Sedwick. Harassment, physical violence, and bullying via cyberspace are all tools being utilized by malicious teenagers these days, but is it worse in recent times than it was before? Is there any way to combat this behavior?

Rebecca Ann Sedwick was being viciously threatened and bullied for more than a year by no less than fifteen fellow teenagers before she opted to leap to her death from a tower. The two main culprits were arrested this past week and are facing felony charges.

There are hundreds of teenage boys and girls who face similar tribulations on a day-to-day basis, and like Sedwick, many of them feel like they have few choices left in the world. One in three teens reported being bullied at school in of 2009. Twenty percent of teens have been made fun by a bully, 18 percent were gossiped about, 11 percent were physically bullied, 6 percent were threatened, 5 percent were excluded, 4 percent were coerced into doing something they didn't want to do, 4 percent had belongings destroyed, and 4 percent were victims of cyberbullying.

"The New Kid" is an anti-bullying musical that a group of New York area girls began performing in order to create awareness about bullying, as they've been victims of bullying themselves. The girls also sat down with NBC's Kate Snow to discuss their personal experiences.

The girls shared how they've been criticized and ostracized, and sometimes even physically assaulted. And they acknowledged that girls who bullied were undoubtedly motivated by a desire to be popular, to acquire power, to be in the 'in crowd', or out of jealousy.

"I feel like some people are just sucked in," said Sienna Schofield, one of the performers. "Like my friend. She's been my friend for years. And recently, in middle school she's popular because of some of her mean friends. She's not a mean person. But when she's with them, she's mean to other people. And she feels like she has to be mean."  

The girls also spoke about how many parents look the other way, and Sedwick's mother agreed. She stated that she would like parents to monitor their children, because she wished that she continued to do that.

Psychiatrist Sue Verma stated that the rise in cyberbullying should certainly cause a rise in concern among parents.

"Social media has its effect and impact creating a permanent, public and lasting humiliation. So a lot of what parents need to do is to be able to A, monitor what's involved and B, bolster self-esteem and confidence."

She continued to say that parents should speak to their children about how they feel, emotionally and physically, and she encouraged parents to show their children affection.

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