Quantcast

Over a Third of US Students Reported Being Cyberbullied Last Year

National Block Out Day is an initiative asking youths around the world to block out negative and harmful posts online.

Aaron Barksdale

Aaron Barksdale

Xavier Lalanne-Tauzia

October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, and the first Monday of the month kicked off with "Blue Shirt Day, World Day of Bullying Prevention." On this day of action, people all over the world wore celebratory blue gear to promote anti-bullying awareness and stood in solidarity with victims of harassment in all its forms.

In 2005, STOMP Out Bullying, a youth bullying prevention organization, started the campaign to help victims and for bystanders to become supportive allies. Since then it's received endorsements from celebrities like Taye Diggs, Debra Messing and many others. Founder and CEO Ross Ellis said that the campaign quickly became an international success, going global in less than three years after starting as a nationally-based initiative to address bullying in America.

"It gives kids and teens a voice, making it the day that bullying prevention is heard around the world," Ellis told VICE Impact

On Monday, October 2, hundreds of students in schools across the U.S. shared photos of their blue garb to take a stand against bullying. For Ellis's organization, raising awareness about bullying prevention is more than just one day of advocacy.

"It gives kids and teens a voice, making it the day that bullying prevention is heard around the world," Ellis told VICE Impact

Throughout the entire month of October, STOMP Out Bullying observes various campaigns that intersect with different identities and causes. One such campaign is National Coming Out Day on October 11, where people can show their support of the LGBTQ community—a group that experiences higher rates of bullying due to sexual orientation or gender identity-based harassment—by sharing acts of kindness or creating anti-bullying videos and posting them on STOMP Out Bullying's website.


Watch some more video from VICE:


During the 2014-2015 school year, the U.S. Department of Education released a report that estimated more than 5 million students between the ages of 12-18 were victims of bullying. Among the statistics from the report, 11.5 percent of students said that they had been bullied online or by text. Cyberbullying is a serious issue and, according to Ellis, can lead to serious effects such as withdrawals from family and friends, anxiety from digital communication and depression.

Photo Credit by Aaron Barksdale, Sources: Cyberbullying Research Center.

Contrary to the popular belief that standing up to a bully will solve the problem, when it comes to cyberbullying, in particular, Ellis cautions victims that confronting their tormenter online can worsen the situation. "It is so important not to respond to cyberbullies," Ellis said. "The best thing one can do is to not respond, block and delete."

STOMP Out Bullying has just announced their new initiative, "National Block It Out Day." On the first Wednesday of every November, beginning this year, the day is set aside to raise awareness about cyberbullying culture. The thrust behind the anti-bullying crusade is preventing attackers by blocking them on social media and encouraging others to do the same.

"Stand up for yourself by not responding to digital attacks. Deleting and blocking the person," Ellis said. "You've just taken back your own power and taken away the cyberbully's power."

It's clear that bullying doesn't happen in a vacuum, and that it goes beyond just the bully and the victim. If the victim and bystanders all collectively block the cyberbullying troll then that person is left with no one to harass and no audience to perform for.

"Stand up for yourself by not responding to digital attacks. Deleting and blocking the person," Ellis said. "You've just taken back your own power and taken away the cyberbully's power."

The High School of Fashion Industries in New York City is the first location to participate in National Block Out Day, but anyone can get involved no matter their age. Although STOMP Out Bullying's campaign is focused on a school-aged audience, in 2017 the Pew Research Center found that 41 percent of adults in the U.S. experience some kind of virtual harassment and the majority of witnesses don't feel comfortable intervening.

Read More: Bullying Prevention Advocate Says Bystanders Must Speak Up

Ellis's word of advice was for more people to have the strength to speak up. "The more people who block out digital negativity and have others follow, the more we can put an end to this digital cruelty."

Find out more about bullying prevention strategies from STOMP Out Bullying online. Also, know your rights when it comes to protecting yourself from cyberbullies by learning more about law enforcement policies on virtual harassment in your state.

VICE Impact has partnered with the Tyler Clementi Foundation in combatting cyberbullying and raising awareness for victims of online harassment. Here's where you can get more informationabout their anti-bullying campaigns and how you can support their mission.