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This paper utilizes data from more than 20,000 Boston-area high school students with and without disabilities. We found that almost one third of students with disabilities (30%) have experienced cyberbullying within the past year, as a victim, perpetrator, or both, compared to 20% of students without disabilities.
Looking at victimization only, students with disabilities are almost twice as likely (1.8x) as their peers without disabilities to be victims of cyberbullying.
Overall, students involved in cyberbullying – as a victim, perpetrator, or both – are more likely to experience depression that students who do not experience cyberbullying at all (34%, 24% and 41% respectively versus 13%).
The link between cyberbullying and depression is especially strong for students with disabilities. For example, 45% of victims with disabilities experience depression, compared to 31% of victims without disabilities.
As with depression, the connection between cyberbullying and suicidality is especially strong for students with disabilities.
Thirty eight percent of cyberbullying victims with disabilities report suicidality, compared to 23% of victims without disabilities.
Twenty percent of high school students have some type of visible or invisible disability.
It is time to include students with disabilities in the conversation around social media and cyberbullying– by doing so, we have the potential to reduce cyberbullying and maybe even curb the adolescent mental health epidemic.
Read the Ruderman White Paper on Cyberbullying in full: