While communities across the U.S. mark National Bullying Prevention Month, a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) reveals that though both boys and girls can be victimized in-person and online, girls are more like to complain about being bullied than boys are.
The agency’s research also reveals that state laws adopted to establish policy aimed at reducing or eliminating bullying are at least partly responsible for a decline in depression and suicidal thinking among female teens.
While there is no federal policy against bullying, lawmakers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia have adopted legislation designed to address issues of bullying online and in schools, according to the stopbullying.gov website.
NBER research suggests young women benefit most from anti-bullying legislation.
“We find that state-level anti-bullying laws (Ab Ls) reduce bullying victimization, depression, and suicidal idealization, with the largest estimated effects for female teenagers and teenagers who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning,” the paper’s authors said. “In addition, Ab Ls are associated with a 13 to 16 percent reduction in the suicide rate of female 14- through 18-year-old.
By contrast, teen boys are nearly three times as likely to kill themselves as their female classmates are even though they report lower rates of depression, according to data compiled through National Vital Statistics System, and Youth Risk Behavior Surveys coordinated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)and those state-level anti-bullying laws (Ab Ls) reduce bullying victimization, depression, and suicidal idealization, with the largest estimated effects for female teenagers and teenagers who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning,” the paper’s authors said. “In addition, Ab Ls are associated with a 13 to 16 percent reduction in the suicide rate of female 14- through 18-year-old.”
Meanwhile, the National Center for Education Statistics reports that while girls ages 12 to 18 years of age are most likely to be bullied, they are more likely to complain about being excluded, insulted, or the subject of a rumor that their male counterparts are.
Whatever the child’s gender, stopbullying.gov points out that parents play a significant role in helping kids cope with bullying.
Here’s what it recommends:
- Notice changes in kids’ behavior
- Talk with them to learn if bullying had taken place and where.
- If bullying is taking place at school, talk with teachers and other appropriate school personnel, and become familiar with school policy protocols required by anti-bullying legislation in your state.
Teens who have experienced bullying should:
- Speak up about it to parents, teachers, or other trusted adults
- Report it when they see someone else being bullied
- kids should get help immediately whenever they feel depressed, or suicidal s the result of being bullied.
Finally, kids may discourage bullying by keeping in mind that everyone is different, not better or worse, just different.
“Stop and think before you say something that could hurt someone else,” the stopbullying.gov website advised. “If you feel like being mean to someone, find something else to do – play a game, watch tv or talk with a friend, and if you have bullied someone in the past, apologize.”