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Less support from teachers & Cyberbullying

In the early months of the pandemic, nearly one in four teens said they connected with teachers less than once a week after in-person school activities were canceled. We found this limited communication with teachers persisted into the 2020-2021 school year.

In fact, nearly 70% of the teens in our sample reported communicating less frequently with teachers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many also perceived a decline in academic and emotional support from teachers, reported by 61% and 48% of the sample, respectively.

Of course, it is critical to recognize how teachers’ lives have also been upended by the pandemic. Having to navigate family obligations, technology challenges, psychological strain and COVID-19 health concerns, for example, may contribute to teacher burnout and mental health declines.

Although school is a common setting for bullying, we found that distance learning did not necessarily give students a reprieve from being mistreated by peers. Teens in our sample reported that cyberbullying remained relatively consistent since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

In fact a notable proportion – one in three students – reported that cyberbullying “increased” and was “more of a problem” during this time period.

It is possible that these increases reflect increases in social media use during the pandemic, given potential links between social media use and cyberbullying.

It is important to note that our study assessed only experiences of general cyberbullying. We believe attention toward teens’ online experiences of bias-based bullying is much needed. One study, conducted in the spring of 2020, found that nearly half of Chinese American youth were targets of COVID-19-related racial discrimination online.