While overall rates of bullying in schools across the country have not changed, a new federal report released Tuesday revealed that online bullying has increased among middle and high school students.
Among the 20 percent of students who said they were bullied between the ages of 12 and 18 during the 2016 school year, 15% said they were bullied online or by text, according to the report by the National Center for Education Statistics. This is a 3.5% increase from the 2014-2015 school year.
Furthermore, the report found that roughly 41% of students between the ages of 12-18 who reported being bullied thought the bullying would happen again.
Cyberbullying can include anything from sending hateful messages to sharing harmful or defaming content about someone else online, according to StopBullying.gov, and it can be “persistent, permanent, and hard to notice.”
The report found that girls were more likely to be bullied and that 21% of girls who reported being bullied were singled out online or via text messages.
In 2018, a 12-year old girl took her own life after her parents said she was severely cyberbullied by peers and adults at her Florida middle school.
The parents of Gabbie Green, told ABC News that the bullying began on social media, though it eventually escalated to offline incidents as well.
"There were memes, they put memes out of her figure," her mother, Tanya Green, said.
Shane Green, Gabbie's father, added that there was even "a picture with a gun to her head."
The parents said they went to the school for help, but the bullying only grew worse online and even became physical.
On the day Gabbie killed herself, the Greens said she had been receiving harassing text messages.
"They were saying that they were going to spread rumors about her," Tanya Green said of the messages. The texts "were telling her that she should just kill herself" and that "nobody liked her."
The federal report found that students who reported being bullied online varied by gender, race and grade level.