Boys who are cyber bullied as kids are more likely to have risky sex, new studies suggest
Getting bullied online has some surprising consequences
When a kid gets bullied it can have a lasting impact on them — even when it’s online and there’s a screen between them and the bully.
We’re only really just beginning to understand the depth of that impact and some of the consequences of it: depression, substance use, anxiety, social apprehension, and, according to new research, risky sexual behavior.
Yes, bullied kids, and specifically cyber bullied boys, apparently become risky-frisky freaks when they start having sexual relationships. It’s trauma manifest.
And let’s clarify: “risky” doesn’t mean “kinky.” Risky, by this definition means “unsafe.”
The study is a collaboration between the University of Missouri, the University of Tennessee and Louisiana State University, that analyzed surveys from 5,288 high school students. The authors were looking at “gender differences in the relationships between forms of victimization” (like school bullying, cyber bullying, physical dating violence and sexual dating violence), depression and risky sexual conduct.
They looked at how bullying affects peoples’ happiness and sexual safeness, in other words. And what they found is almost as interesting as it is dismaying.
While regular old-school bullying was a predictor for depression (among both males and females — surprise, surprise), cyber bullying was a predictor, specifically, for boys’ sexual riskiness.
Which is to say, if a boy is cyber bullied on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, or whatever, they’re more likely to take risks in the bedroom: like not using condoms, having sex while drunk or super high and/or having unprotected sex with multiple partners.
Now, some of you out there might be wondering: But wait - I do all of those things too… Was I cyber bullied as kid? Did I bury my trauma?
Well, I can’t speak for you, but I can speak to the fact that having risky sex doesn’t mean you were cyber bullied, but cyber bullying does seem to mean you’ll have risky sex later on.
So what can the world do with that information? It’s a good question. Because, old-school regular bullying, has been a problem in schools for as long as schools have been a thing. Kids are assholes and they’re mean to each other, and a kid who has a tough life at home, will often bring that to school and take it out on others. Stopping bullying, is a matter of dealing with problems at home — which can be nearly impossible for teachers or school administrators.
Then you have Cyber bullying, which has proven to be even harder for schools to crack down on — when the bullying is face to face at school (whether it’s physical or emotional), teachers can at least catch it; they can apprehend the bully and try to make the situation better, try to right some of the wrongs that have been done to the victim.
Online, however, things are much harder to catch. And they’re much harder to prove too, since bullies can simply delete or edit their mean comments; they can hide their bullying from the “authorities” and deal their damage without getting punished for it.
While cyber bullying is still a relatively new phenomena, it’s now been around long enough to see how the residual trauma affects kids’ lives. The conclusions drawn from this study are a perfect example of that — and they’re surprising. While the world may not yet know what to do with the fact that cyber bullied boys are more sexually risky, it’s information that could prove useful in sexual education classes, or anti-bullying campaigns.