Facts and statistics are important for gaining an understanding of the bullying problem, but equally as crucial is understanding where these trends are headed so that we know what to expect in the future. Researchers have identified several trends in bullying over recent years:
The trend toward more severe bullying
Bullying does appear to be getting worse. The consensus among researchers is that bullying today is more severe and significant than what previous generations experienced. Researchers say that it is significantly more brutal than it was just 10 to 15 years ago. (Olweus, 1993)
The trend towards more widespread bullying
Although bullying has always existed, it does appear that it is becoming more prevalent. This is particularly true when it comes to certain types of harassment, such as relational aggression or gossip. The rise in reality television and social aggression in the culture at large is believed to be contributing to this phenomenon, as is the development of technology that makes it easier for rumors to spread.
The trend of increasing violence among girls
Beginning since approximately the mid 1980s, physical violence and aggression among girls has been steadily rising. Although verbal bullying and relational aggression remain the most common types of bullying among girls, those surveyed in the last 5 to 15 years report experiencing significantly more girl-on-girl physical violence than previous generations. Summarizing this trend, one study reports that “women between the ages of 18 and 30 (as opposed to those in older generations) reporting on bullying that had taken place in the last 5 to 15 years said they had been severely physically attacked by girl bullies. The forms of violence included being stabbed, kicked in the head, having stones thrown, slapping, sticking pencils in arms, hands, legs, etc., being deliberately knocked down by bicyclists, broken bones, severe bruising from punching and black eyes and other injuries requiring hospital treatment were mentioned.” (Kidscape, 1999, p. 5)
The trend towards increased bullying online
Online harassment of American youth ages 10 to 17 increased 50% (from 6% to 9%) from 2000 to 2005, according to research published in 2008 by the University of New Hampshire. The number of young people who admitted they had “made rude or nasty comments to someone on the Internet” doubled in the same time period from 14% to 28%. (Kornblum, 7-15-2008) As kids move more of their social interactions to cyberspace, Internet bullying is bound to increase even further.
The trend towards higher rates of narcissism in American Youth
Research has shown that kids today really are ruder than previous generations. (Twenge & Im, 2006) Recent research by psychologist Jean Twenge reveals that the portion of students who registered as having high narcissism (using the same diagnostic survey as in years past) surged from 18% in 1994 to 34% in 2009. (Week, 4-9-2010) With more of our young people becoming more spoiled, self-centered and narcissistic, we face an uphill battle in confronting problems such as bullying.