Hasbro Children’s Hospital researcher Dr. Megan Ranney says nearly a quarter of the teens in a recent study reported signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. Ranney surveyed more than 350 teenagers who landed in Hasbro’s emergency room for various reasons. She says she was surprised by the high rate of PTSD symptoms, and she believes it relates to cyber-bullying.
“It used to be you would get into a fight with someone in the school yard, and maybe it would be something you would have to deal with going on," says Ranney. "Certainly physical violence is never OK. But it would be left there. You would leave school and you would go home and you would be safe. In cyber-bullying it surrounds them.”
Ranny says just like adults, teens can’t escape their phones, the internet, social media.
Ranney gave computerized questionnaires to teens who showed up in the emergency room over time. Their answers surprised her. Half reported exposure to peer violence, and half also reported being cyber-bullied.
“I was expecting that somewhere around 15 percent would have depression. But I was not expecting this high of a percentage of kids to have PTSD symptoms. I was also surprised by how high a percent reported cyber-bullying.”
She says more mental health resources are needed for adolescents in Rhode Island.
The study appears in General Hospital Psychiatry online.