One of the most serious challenges faced by students is bullying, including physical abuse, verbal taunting and, particularly discouraging, cyberbullying -- in effect, the use of the internet and social networking to intimidate and humiliate students. According to the National Education Association, as many as one in seven students is either a bully or a victim of bullying, and 71 percent of students identify bullying as a problem. To put that into a broader perspective, over three million students are bullied every year.
The psychological ramifications of bullying have become very apparent with the number of child suicides that have been linked to bullying. A February 2013 article in U.S. News and World Report reported on a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry detailing the emotional damage inflicted on children who are the victims of bullying. Bullying is directly linked to anxiety and depression, and to instances of suicide. Increasingly, the most psychologically damaging instances of bullying involve the use of the internet and social networking sites. Bullies are able to conceal their identities and exploit that anonymity to taunt and humiliate their victims. Often, because of the rapid spread of information on those sites, many people instantaneously become a party to the bullying by continuing to forward embarrassing photographs and texts to others. There are other reasons why teenagers commit suicide, but bullying is an increasingly important one.