But many experts say the problem of bullying isn’t as serious as some states’ heavy-handed policies suggest. For one thing, bullying is not getting worse. Studies suggest that rates of bullying have either stayed constant or decreased, according to stopbullying.gov.
And while cyberbullying is the current go-to moral panic among local reporters, studies show that very few teens are actually impacted by it.
“There is very little scientific support to show that cyberbullying has increased over the past five to six years, and this form of bullying is actually a less frequent phenomenon,” wrote Dan Olweus, a psychologist at the University of Bergen in Norway, in his 2012 study of cyberbullying.
While it’s true that some teenagers are impacted by bullying — about 1 in 4, according to studies — there isn’t enough evidence to justify strong new laws aimed at curbing it. Nor is there evidence that the problem is worsening, or that technology has caused it to take a new and especially insidious form.
“Whether it’s the proliferation of cars, rock n’ roll music on the radio, video games, cell phones, or social media, we find ways to demonize technology’s impact on the young people who embrace it with such enthusiasm,” wrote McBride. “Over time, we look back and marvel at our own hysteria.”