Chicago Teens Report Being Cyberbullied Well Above National Average
November 16th, 2022
Teens share insights in real-time clicker-recorded Q&A surveying at Buckets Over Bullying Social Media Safety Rally for 500+ teens and parents in Chicago
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports approximately one-third of middle school and high school teens1 face cyberbullying while 43 percent of Chicago middle schooler and high schoolers surveyed at the Nov. 5th event reported they have been cyberbullied.
- Nearly 60 percent of the surveyed Chicago teens also self-admitted at the event to spending more than five hours a day on social media.
- Published peer-reviewed clinical research finds that 12-15 year-olds2 who spend more than three hours a day using social media face a heightened risk of mental health problems, including depression and anxiety and that 10-13 year-olds3 who experienced cyberbullying were more than 4x as likely to report thoughts of suicide and attempts.
- Suicide is now the 2nd leading cause of death among America’s youth ages 10-19.4
Buckets Over Bullying, a non-profit initiative whose mission is to stop cyberbullying of children and teens through education, lawmaking and legal action, found in surveying Chicago public and private middle and high schoolers this month that cyberbullying is more prevalent in the community than national data suggests.
The data was collected from Chicago youth during a series of social media safety educational sessions at the Jesse White Community Center on Nov. 5, 2022 during the first Buckets Over Bullying Social Media Safety Rally held in partnership with the Organization for Social Media Safety, the Jesse White Foundation and the non-profit teen-led organization More Than Likes.
At the rally attended by more than 500+ teens and parents, Chicago middle schoolers and high schoolers took part in social media safety educational sessions where they were asked to respond using a digital clicker to a series of social media safety related questions that included:
- Have you been cyberbullied?
- A. I HAVE been cyberbullied (43%)
- B. I have NOT been cyberbullied (57%)
- How many hours a day do you use social media on average?
- A. 0 Hours (1%)
- B. 1-2 Hours (10%)
- C. 3-4 Hours (11%)
- D. 4-5 Hours (21%)
- E. 5-6 Hours (18%)
- F. 7+ Hours (39%)
- Have you seen hate speech on internet/social media?
- A. YES (91%)
- B. NO (9%)
- Have you seen videos of real-life violence on social media?
- A. YES (91%)
- B. NO (9%)
- Have you been a bystander?
- A. YES (80%)
- B. NO (20%)
Social media safety sessions where the students were surveyed at the rally were run by experienced topical educators, Ed Peisner and Marc Berkman, the founder and CEO respectively, from the Organization for Social Media Safety, an award-winning, national nonprofit that protects families from social media-related dangers through education, advocacy, and technology development. Separate age-appropriate sessions for students and parents included how to prevent cyberbullying; how to fight back against social media addiction; how to better identify and stop social media-motivated violence; and how to safely react and reduce hate speech on social media. Only the students participated in the interactive real-time surveying.
“What students from both private and public schools in Chicago shared with us at the Buckets Over Bullying event this month is reflective of what we are finding in our social media safety presentations at schools across the country, regardless of demographics,” Berkman said. “Social media is exposing school-aged children to serious risks like cyberbullying, depression, violence, and hate speech, among others. Our data suggests that we urgently need to raise awareness among parents and educators of the potential ramifications of excessive social media use among children.”
Research by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control indicates that reports of cyberbullying are highest in middle schools (33%) followed by high schools (30%), combined schools (20%), and primary schools (5%).
Additionally, a recently released 2022 U.S. government report reveals that cyberbullying is now the second largest discipline issue in public schools, more than doubling during the past decade. Cyberbullying now occurs at least once a week at one in six schools compared to more than one in 12 schools in the 2009-10 school year when social media usage began to rapidly rise among youth.5
Buckets Over Bullying was launched by Rose and Rob Bronstein of Chicago, basketball trick shot social media sensation Tristan Jass and Chicago entrepreneur Pauly Urdan as a call to action for teens, parents, community leaders and schools about the real life risks posed by cyberbullying and the need for serious response to it by teens, adults and community leaders. The Bronstein’s son, Nate Bronstein, took his life in January 2022 at the age of 15 after being harassed, humiliated and threatened by classmates at a Chicago independent school through text messages and social media. He received the ultimate threat (“Go kill yourself!”) via a Snapchat message.
Nate Bronstein’s tragic loss is far from an isolated occurrence, however. Across the 50 states, there are innumerable instances of other digitally connected 10–19-year-olds who have taken their own lives after being cyberbullied.
“The responses provided at the Buckets Over Bullying Rally by Chicago’s children are further direct evidence that we can no longer remain bystanders on this issue. We must stand up and become Upstanders to develop healthy children and communities,” said Rob Bronstein, Nate’s father. “Our family and the growing number of families and partners joining us in this mission are committed to ending cyberbullying through policy change, educating teens and parents about its life-changing dangers and ensuring there is measurable accountability to cyberbullies and those who enable them.”
A number of prominent leaders from Chicago and the state of Illinois attended the Nov. 5th Buckets Over Bullying Social Media Safety Rally including Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul; Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, a Buckets Over Bullying board member; Tony McCoy, a Buckets Over Bullying board member and founder and CEO of the Chicago-based Sportsfactory Foundation; DePaul University Men’s Basketball Coach Tony Stubblefield and other leaders from the community.
Everyone who attended was asked to take the Buckets Over Bullying pledge to “NEVER use my device as a weapon.”
In addition, everyone at the rally was treated to numerous interactive experiences including a performance by the amazing Jesse White Tumblers, group basketball drills, dunk contests, a 5×5 basketball game against Tristan Jass and a cadre of elite players from Chicago’s Hoop Bus, including street baller Elvin Rodriguez who stars as “Mr. Everything” in Netflix’s new basketball film ‘Hustle’ produced by Adam Sandler and LeBron James.
If you or someone you know is in crisis or experiencing suicidal thoughts, call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and connect in English or Spanish. If you’re deaf or hard of hearing dial 711, then 988. Services are free and available 24/7.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness also offers support resources. The NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., ET. Call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), text “HelpLine” to 62640 or email us at email@example.com
Buckets Over Bullying is a non-profit initiative of The Bronstein Family Foundation whose mission is to eliminate cyberbullying of children and teens. The sports-centric initiative is a call to action following the untimely death of Nate Bronstein, a 15-year-old Chicago student tragically lost to suicide on January 13, 2022 after being relentlessly cyberbullied and told to “Go kill yourself!” by classmates and teammates through text messages and Snapchat at a Chicago independent school. Through education, lawmaking and legal action, Buckets Over Bullying seeks to prevent what happened to 15-year-old Nate and countless others, encourage upstanding digital citizenship, and advocate for the accountability of cyberbullies and those who enable them.
1 U.S. Centers for Disease Control: Reports of cyberbullying are highest in middle schools (33%) followed by high schools (30%), combined schools (20%), and primary schools (5%).
2 Associations Between Time Spent Using Social Media and Internalizing and Externalizing Problems Among US Youth | Adolescent Medicine | JAMA Psychiatry | JAMA Network
3 Association of Cyberbullying Experiences and Perpetration With Suicidality in Early Adolescence. Arnon S, Brunstein Klomek A, Visoki E, Moore TM, Argabright ST, DiDomenico GE, Benton TD, Barzilay R. JAMA Netw Open. 2022 Jun 1.
4 U.S. National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS)
5 2022 U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics Report on Indicators of School Crime and Safety
SOURCE Buckets Over Bullying