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Teenage Bullying & Cyberbullying

Bullying problems is a common issue teenagers of all ages, backgrounds and regions face, and in America it's an especially concerning problem that has only gotten more traction with the increase in social media and mobile device use. Adolescents have always been mean or inappropriate to each other at times, but today's teens are able to engage in, see or be a victim of bullying 24 hours a day.

The results can be drastic and damaging, especially for teens who are simultaneously dealing with other issues such as mental health diagnoses or substance abuse disorders. The damage caused by bullying is also not one-sided: bullying can lead to issues for both the victim and the bully.

At The Teen Treatment Center, we understand that teenagers deal with many issues in their lives, and our group and individual counseling sessions — as well as other proven treatment methods, such as recreational therapy and education — take all of these factors into account. If bullying is a trigger or factor in your child's substance abuse or mental health issue, we work with your teen and your family to seek resolution over such issues.

For more information about how The Teen Treatment Center can help your teen deal with addition, substance abuse or mental health issues, contact us now at (844)319-5239.

What is bullying and cyberbullying?

Teen Cyber BullyingThe U.S. Department of Health and Human Services gives a bullying definition as unwanted and aggressive behavior on the part of one person toward another. Typically, bullying involves a power imbalance, whether or not that imbalance is real or perceived. In short, the victim believes that the bully has some sort of power over him or her, and the bully uses that belief to create a result that is not to the benefit of the victim. Bullying can be physical, psychological or emotional in nature and doesn't always involve traditional physical aggression such as pushing or hitting.

Cyberbullying is the same behavior exhibited online or via electronic communications. Cyberbullying can occur on social media, blogs, comments sections and forums and via text messages. While any bullying is a serious thing for a teen to deal with, cyberbullying can be especially hard to deal with because:

  • It can happen any hour of any day and is never limited to certain locations, groups or times of the day, so it's harder to get a break from it
  • Bullies can act anonymously, which can tempt teens into acting in ways they wouldn't otherwise and causes the victim to deal with even more mean-spirited actions
  • Online bullying has a wider audience, which can lead to more victim embarrassment, more "thrill" for the bully and even copycat bullying or the impression among groups of teens that certain behavior is acceptable
  • It's very difficult to delete or fully remove online bullying evidence, which means both the bully and victim might live with consequences for a long time

How common is bullying?


Bullying statistics collected by the Cyberbullying Research Center indicate that it's common across the entire nation. Almost ¾ of students in middle and high school reported having been bullied, and 44 percent said they were bullied in the past 30 days. Girls were slightly more likely to say they experienced bullying, but the numbers indicate that the problem is seen in all groups.

Students report bullying activity that includes:

  • Name calling
  • Teasing
  • Pushing
  • Hitting or slapping
  • Kicking
  • Spreading rumors
  • Stealing another person's things
  • Threating another
  • Isolating or leaving a person out
  • Sexual comments

Cyberbullying is still slightly less common than in-school bullying, but the numbers are increasing as more kids get online or have daily access to the internet. Around 34 percent of kids age 12 to 17 said they were bullied online or electronically within their lifetime, often pointing to mean comments and rumors as the format.

Substance abuse and mental health factors contributing to bullying

Both substance abuse and mental health factors can contribute to bullying. They put teens at risk for being bullied, but can also position a teen into a bullying position. A teen who is struggling with addiction, for example, might bully others as a way to hide his or her own struggle or to gain money to buy drugs. At the same time, they might be experiencing bullying from other teens who are providing drugs, looking down on the use of drugs or using drugs themselves.

Mental health issues such as depression or anxiety can cause a teen to marginalize himself or herself, putting the teen in a prime position to be ostracized or bullied by others. Other mental health issues can lead to aggressive or inappropriate behavior, placing the teen in the role of bully.

Teen Treatment Bullying

Signs of bullying

Parents of teens can look for signs that their teen is a victim of bullying, but may also want to watch for signs that a child is bullying someone else.

Signs that a teen is being bullied can include:

  • Injuries that aren't explained or which a child tries to hide
  • Nightmares or trouble sleeping
  • Changes in grades
  • A lack of interest in activities that used to engage your teen, especially if your teen is trying to avoid places such as school, sports practices or other teen gatherings
  • Self-destructive behaviors
  • Changes in eating habits or coming home from school hungry because they didn't get to eat lunch
  • Faking illnesses

Signs that a teen is bullying others can include:

  • Frequent physical altercations
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Being friends with teens who bully others
  • Sudden unexplained belongings or money
  • Habit of not acceptable responsibility for his or her actions
  • Extremely competitive or overly worried about reputation or popularity

Seeking teen treatment for substance abuse and mental health

If bullying is a factor in your teen's drug or alcohol use or mental health diagnosis — or if bullying in any format is a result of these issues — we can help.

At The Teen Treatment Center, we work with adolescents who are struggling with drug or alcohol addictions with or without mental health diagnoses. Our experienced counselors have worked with troubled teens from all walks of life and in all stages of these issues, and we realize that most teens don't just have a problem using drugs or an issue with depression or anxiety. We know that these problems are caused or made worse by any number of triggers and factors, and we work through counseling and other proven methods to help your teen understand and deal with these issues.

If you suspect that your teen is dealing with bullying — or is bullying — alongside substance abuse or mental health issues, call us today. Our counselors are available to take your call anytime at (844)319-5239.

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