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Cyberbullying is defined as bullying on electronic technology (Kowalski, Giumetti, Schroeder, & Lattanner, 2014).

From: Child and Adolescent Online Risk Exposure , 2021

Related terms:

Impact of Violence on Children

Robert M. Kliegman MD , in Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics , 2020

Bullying and Cyberbullying

Bullying behavior affects people throughout the life span, but much of the focus has been on children and adolescents. In the past, bullying was sometimes considered a rite of passage, or was written off as “kids being kids.” It is now recognized that bullying can have profound short- and long-term negative consequences on all those involved, including perpetrators, targets, and bystanders. The consequences of bullying can affect a child's social experiences, academic progress, and health.

Bullying is defined as any unwanted aggressive behavior by another youth or group of youths that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated. Generally, sibling aggression and dating violence are excluded, but research has associated these problems with peer bullying . Digital technology was initially viewed as a context in which bullying can occur. Further research studies have suggested that cyberbullying is not merely bullying that occurs through electronic communications, but rather a type of bullying with distinct elements, such as the potential for a single event to “go viral” and the use of technology as a tool to achieve power imbalance.

It is thought that bullying and cyberbullying are more alike than dissimilar, and that surveillance efforts, as well as prevention and intervention approaches, should address both types of bullying.

Bullying Roles and Nomenclature

Bullying represents a dynamic social interaction in which an individual may play different roles at different stages. A child can be a perpetrator of bullying, a target of bullying, a witness or bystander, or simply a child whose environment is affected by pervasive bullying. In any bullying experience, the roles that each child plays may be fluid; such that a target of bullying may then become a perpetrator, or vice versa. Thus, common nomenclature has evolved to refer to children as perpetrators of bullying or targets of bullying to represent a present state, rather than labeling a child as a bully or a victim, which suggests a static role and may impact that child's self-image.


Bullying is a widespread problem during childhood and adolescence. Current estimates suggest that school-based bullying likely affects 18–31% of children and youth and that cyberbullying affects 7–15% of youth. Apparent rates of bullying are influenced by the questions that are asked; the word “bully” is stigmatized, and absent that label, youth are more willing to acknowledge having engaged in activities that can be categorized as bullying. Estimates of bullying prevalence are typically based on self-reported victimization (not perpetration), but here too, language can influence results. Targets of other types of social conflict may overestimate or underestimate their bullying victimization unless precise language is used during assessment.

Risk Factors

Certain groups are more vulnerable to bullying, including youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ); immigrant and racial minority youth; obese youth; and youth with disabilities. However, it is important to recognize that while these individual risk factors exist, the context and situation can also present unique risk factors. Some studies have found that African Americans are bullied more often than Latinos, whereas other studies have found no group differences. Contextual factors, such as the school climate or prevalence of a particular ethnic group in a school setting, may be important factors in a given bullying situation. The 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that white students were much more likely than black teens to report being bullied at school or online. Thus, it is important to recognize that in any bullying situation, an individual is embedded within a situation that is within a larger social context. This person by situation by context approach is useful to consider in identifying why bullying takes place in some situations but not others.

Pierre Court , in Psychologist's Guide to Adolescents and Social Media , 2022

“the invention of the ship was also the invention of the shipwreck”—social media has been adopted by many as a vehicle to deliver psychological trauma. This chapter introduces cyberbullying and does so in a way to help the reader question “definitions”and understand the difficulties in this area of research. There is no universally agreed definition of cyberbullying—this chapter explores the multiple methods of cyberbullying, utilizing examples from the author's interviews with young people and published psychological research. In exploring the methods, understanding what the research says and hearing of what that can look like for those affected—a revised definition of cyberbullying is offered.

Advances in the cyberbullying literature: theory-based interventions

Christopher P. Barlett , ... Luke W. Seyfert , in Child and Adolescent Online Risk Exposure , 2021

Cyberbullying perpetration and victimization have emerged as an important topic of study. With the goal of reducing cybervictimization, scientists have made great strides in uncovering the theoretical postulates germane to the prediction of cyberbullying perpetration. Indeed, intervention work can be enhanced to better reduce cyberbullying perpetration—and subsequent cybervictimization—if theory can guide such intervention efforts. In the current chapter we discuss the importance of theory in predicting cyberbullying before outlining several social psychological, sociological, and communication-based theories that have been applied to intervention curricula to reduce cyberbullying. Here, we delve into the theory, curriculum, and validation of myriad cyberbullying interventions. Our aim is to demonstrate how quality interventions can be derived from theory to reduce cyberbullying perpetration with an overarching goal of promoting theory.

Cyberbullying in Context

Christopher Paul Barlett PhD , in Predicting Cyberbullying , 2019

Cyberbullying perpetration is a pervasive social behavior that can cause many negative psychological, behavioral, and health outcomes for cyberbulling victims. Research has shown that cyberbullying occurs all over the world, across the developmental life span, and for both males and females. Understanding the variables and processes that predict cyberbullying perpetration is important for interventions aimed at reducing online, antisocial behavior. The purpose of this chapter is to introduce the reader to definitions of cyberbullying and discuss the prevalence rates of cyberbullying perpetration. Myriad theoretical and conceptual issues that confound the majority of definitions have serious implications for how cyberbullying perpetration is measured and its subsequent prevalence rates. These issues are discussed in this chapter.

Digital tools that promote or alleviate interpersonal violence

Victoria Adkins , Ellen Selkie , in Technology and Adolescent Health , 2020

Cyberbullying can have significant psychological effects on both targets and perpetrators. Adolescent targets of cyberbullying have been found to have lower self-esteem and increased depressive symptoms which appear to be “dose dependent.” That is, the severity of depression in targets also seems to be associated with the severity of cyberbullying experienced ( Suzuki et al., 2012 ). Cyberbullying is also a risk factor for suicidal ideation and suicide attempt in both targets and perpetrators of cyberbullying ( Hinduja and Patchin, 2010 ). Targets of cyberbullying have higher rates of social anxiety, emotional distress, anger, sadness, detachment, externalized hostility, and delinquency than in the general population ( Suzuki et al., 2012 ). Targets of cyberbullying are also at risk for school absenteeism and poorer academic outcomes due to decreased concentration and feeling unsafe at school ( Hill et al., 2016 ). Perpetrators of cyberbullying also experience negative effects including depressive symptoms, problem alcohol use, and suicidality ( Hinduja and Patchin, 2010 ; Selkie et al., 2015 ).

The longitudinal associations of cyberbullying and cybervictimization: preliminary findings from a two-wave study

Fatih Bayraktar , Michelle F. Wright , in Child and Adolescent Online Risk Exposure , 2021

Cyberbullying is a new form of bullying. Cyberbullying research began in the early 2000s; however, most of the research was cross-sectional, making it difficult to evaluate the risks and protective factors associated with cyberbullying perpetration and victimization. This short-term longitudinal study had two main aims: (1) to examine the stability of face-to-face bullying and cyberbullying perpetration and victimization and (2) to investigate the individual-level risk and protective factors associated with cyberbullying perpetration and cybervictimization. Participants were 268 adolescents (143 females, 124 males, 1 missing; mean age=14.7, SD=0.52), who were recruited from public schools in two districts of Northern Cyprus (i.e., Nicosia and Famagusta). The overall findings showed that there was stability in face-to-face bullying and cyberbullying perpetration and victimization 1 year later. Cyberbullying perpetration at Time 2 was negatively related to cyber-prosocial behaviors, unpopularity, and social status insecurity at Time 1. Narcissism and receiving prosocial behaviors were positively related to cyberbullying perpetration. On the other hand, cybervictimization at Time 2 was negatively related to receiving cyber-prosocial behaviors, cyber-prosocial behaviors, callousness, and blog use, while it was positively associated with unpopularity.

Cyberbullying perpetration and victimization among ethnic minority youth in the United States: similarities or differences across groups?

Guadalupe Espinoza , Fardusa Rashid Ismail , in Child and Adolescent Online Risk Exposure , 2021

Cyberbullying incidents have consistently been shown to be associated with children’s and adolescent’s psychosocial well-being and academic outcomes. Although most cyberbullying studies have focused on the experiences of White youth, increasingly studies are capitalizing on ethnically diverse samples to test ethnic differences and also focusing on single ethnic minority groups to study within-group patterns. This chapter outlines why it is important and timely to examine cyberbullying incidents among ethnic minority youth and reviews the existing literature that examines whether youth from certain ethnic backgrounds are at higher (or lower) risk of cyberbullying involvement. Finally, the chapter proposes cultural factors that may be important for future research with ethnically diverse youth to examine.

Psychopathy: Cybercrime and cyber abuse

Evita March , in Psychopathy and Criminal Behavior , 2022

Psychopathy and cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is commonly defined as the repeated use of technology in an attempt to harass and cause distress to others ( Slonje, Smith, & Frisén, 2013 ). Cyberbullying can include a range of behaviors, such as harassing, impersonating, slandering, and excluding the victim ( Willard, 2007 ). There are a range of reasons why someone might perpetrate cyberbullying behaviors, including revenge, jealousy, boredom, and seeking approval ( Varjas, Talley, Meyers, Parris, & Cutts, 2010 ). Due to the extremely detrimental psychological, physical, and emotional consequences of cyberbullying ( Van Geel, Goemans, Toprak, & Vedder, 2017 ), a significant amount of research has explored predictors in an attempt to manage and prevent cyberbullying. Psychopathy has been found to be a significant, reliable predictor of perpetrating cyberbullying.

Gibb and Devereux (2014) explored psychopathy and cyberbullying in a college sample. Although rates of cyberbullying are expected to decrease after adolescence, college samples still report high rates of experiencing cyberbullying. Gibb and Devereux (2014) hypothesized psychopathy would predict perpetrating cyberbullying behaviors, as this trait is characterized by high   impulsivity, thrill seeking behavior, and low levels of empathy ( Paulhus & Williams, 2002 ), and has previously been associated with traditional bullying behavior ( Baughman, Dearing, Giammarco, & Vernon, 2012 ). Participants (University students; N   =  297; 61% women; M age   =   22.70,  SD   =  7.02) completed the Short Dark Triad and a modified version of the Cyberbullying Questionnaire (CBQ; Calvete, Orue, Estevez, Villardon, & Padilla, 2010 ), and a positive relationship was found between psychopathy and perpetrating cyberbullying behaviors.

This relationship has been replicated in other studies. Goodboy and Martin (2015) explored the utility of psychopathy in predicting cyberbullying. In their study, 227 undergraduate students (112 women; M age  =  20.97,  SD   =  2.32) completed a measure of psychopathy (Dirty Dozen) and a measure of visual and text cyberbullying. Visual cyberbullying was measured with items such as In the past year at this school, I used a mobile phone to send other students a video of a student I knew would embarrass them and text cyberbullying was measured with items such as In the past year at this school, I wrote nasty things about a student on a profile page . Positive correlations were found between psychopathy and both visual and text cyberbullying. Of the dark personality traits (i.e., narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy), psychopathy was the only significant predictor of the two forms of cyberbullying. The authors recommended that when exploring cyberbullying, researchers should pay particular attention to psychopathy as there appears to be a unique relationship between psychopathy and aggression.

Gibb (2016) found psychopathy to be a significant, positive predictor of cyberbullying, with each 1-point increase in the psychopathy mean score approximately tripling the likelihood of perpetrating cyberbullying. In another particularly novel study, Balakrishnan, Khan, Fernandez, and Arabnia (2019) built a cyberbullying detection model based on personality traits (Big 5 and Dark Triad), and researchers found that factoring user’s personality greatly improves cyberbullying detection mechanisms. Specifically, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism (Big 5), and psychopathy (Dark Triad) were significant traits when detecting bullies, achieving up to 96% (precision) and 95% (recall). The authors suggested that unlike other dark personality traits, the predatory nature of psychopathy may motivate these individuals to seek online victims to bully in an attempt to inflict emotional and psychological harm. Further, the individual with higher levels of psychopathy feels little remorse in doing so, as they often disregard the   distress   they cause others.

In addition to the research conducted exploring psychopathy and cyberbullying in adults, this relationship has also been explored in younger populations. Van Geel et al. (2017) explored the utility of psychopathy to predict cyberbullying   in a sample of high school students. A total of 17 senior vocational high schools participated in the study ( N   =  1568; 61.9% women; M age   =   17.58,  SD   =  1.39), and participants completed a measure of psychopathy (the Short Dark Triad scale) and a measure of cyberbullying (the European Cyberbullying Intervention Project Questionnaire; Del Rey et al., 2015 ). Interestingly, psychopathy was only a significant, positive predictor of cyberbullying until nonclinical sadism was included in the predictive model. Upon the inclusion of sadism, psychopathy was only marginally significant. The authors acknowledge that this result conflicts with previous research on psychopathy and cyberbullying, but note that previous research did not include sadism in the predictive model. The authors posit that perhaps cyberbullies are better motivated by sadistic pleasure instead of callousness, strategic considerations, or a threatened ego (i.e., psychopathy).

Lastly, Orue and Andershed (2015) explored the relationship between three dimensions of psychopathy (interpersonal, affective, and behavioral) and cyberbullying. Participants were 993 (58.9% women; M age   =   15.38; SD   =   1.12) high school students. Schools were selected via a cluster sampling procedure, where schools were stratified according to school type (public vs. private) and urbanity. Participants completed the Youth Psychopathic Inventory-Short Form (YPI-S) which includes 18 items drawn from the original 50 item YPI ( Andershed, Kerr, Stattin, & Levander, 2002 ), and the perpetration subscale of a Cyberbullying Questionnaire (CBQ). Results showed that for the total sample, all dimensions of the YPI-S were significantly, positively correlated with cyberbullying.

Online risk interventions: implications of theory of mind and other considerations

Tina Montreuil , Hagit Malikin , in Child and Adolescent Online Risk Exposure , 2021

Cyberbullying has been associated with mental health issues, physical health, and achievement. Cybervictimized adolescents report increased levels of internalized disorders such as depression and anxiety, emotional distress, suicidal ideation and attempts, psychosomatic complaints, poorer physical health, and externalized issues such as increased delinquency and substance abuse in contrast to their nonbullied peers; and these difficulties persist over time. Emotion regulation plays a key role in the development of intervention and prevention efforts as it provides a theoretical framework by which to gain a greater understanding of the precursors of cyberbullying and cybervictimization risk. This chapter explores the implications of cyberbullying intervention development and design from a theory of mind framework, using a socio-ecological perspective by (1) providing an overview of theory of mind as a theoretical framework of cyberbullying, (2) better understanding the risk and protective factors of cyberbullying, (3) exploring the implications of existing intervention programs and prevention efforts, and (4) addressing evidence-based program development considerations. Adaptive emotion regulation abilities have unequivocal implications on the prevention of cyberbullying given the underlying unresolved emotional issues identified as precursors to related behaviors. Childhood represents a critical period to foster the development of these emotional competencies; laying the foundation for individuals to regulate their own emotions more adaptively and be able to later adjust to their environment. Further guidelines and considerations for specific cyberbullying interventions are also explored.

LGBTQ youth and digital media: online risks

Tyler Hatchel , ... Dorothy L. Espelage , in Child and Adolescent Online Risk Exposure , 2021

Cyberbullying and LGBTQ youth

Cyberbullying is an emergent public health concern that has drawn considerable attention from researchers, school officials, and policymakers alike ( Tokunaga, 2010 ). Hinduja and Patchin (2009 , p. 131) described cyberbullying as “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, or other electronic devices.” However, it is important to note that there is a lack of consensus in the literature about the operational definition of cyberbullying ( Vandebosch & Van Cleemput, 2008 ). Although traditional bullying and cyberbullying are similar in terms of their dynamics, cyberbullying has some unique risk factors that might worsen the consequences for the victims. One of the most vital differences that distinguish cyberbullying from the face-to-face or traditional bullying is the nature of online harassment that allows the perpetrators to stay anonymous ( Hinduja & Patchin, 2009; Kowalski, Giumetti, Schroeder, & Lattanner, 2014 ). The liberation of anonymity increases the severity of online bullying and, in turn, increases the potential harm done to the victim ( Bauman, 2014 ). Further, perpetrators in cyberbullying incidents have a massive audience; thus it alters the level of potential harm, by increasing the visibility of the bullying act, as a result, increasing the likelihood of humiliation for the victim ( Bauman, 2014 ). Ample research has documented the detrimental psychological and behavioral outcomes of cyberbullying including anxiety, depression, substance use, and suicidal ideation ( Kowalski et al., 2014 ).

Stigma-related stressors can emerge online, which coincides with the vulnerability of LGBTQ youth in particular for online victimization ( Hatchel et al., 2017 ). According to a national survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 27% of the LGBTQ youth surveyed reported being victims of cyberbullying ( Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017 ). Data from a survey that was administered to 5907 LGBTQ youth participants suggested that 30% of LGBTQ youth have reported being victimized online at some point in their lives, due to their sexual orientation or gender expression ( GLSEN et al., 2013 ). A more recent survey asked students how often they were harassed or threatened by students at their school via electronic mediums (e.g., text messages, emails, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Snapchat), and almost half of LGBTQ students reported experiencing this type of harassment in the past year, with 13.5% reporting they experienced it frequently ( Kosciw, Greytak, Zongrone, Clark, & Truong, 2018 ). Moreover, Duong and Bradshaw (2014) found that cyberbullying victimization was also more common than traditional bullying victimization among LGBTQ youth. Varjas, Meyers, Kiperman, and Howard (2013) found that LGBTQ youth who reported experiences of cyberbullying victimization were more likely to be victimized in traditional, face-to-face bullying following the online bullying incidents. The literature on the prevalence of cyberbullying among LGBTQ youth clearly demonstrates that this population is at heightened risk for cyberbullying victimization compared to their peers ( Abreu & Kenny, 2018 ).

Given the susceptibility of being exposed to cyberbullying among LGBTQ youth, the reasons of victimization and patterns of cyberbullying victimization in this population have also been investigated by researchers. Existing literature indicates that LGBTQ youth report higher rates of being targeted in the anonymous form of cyberbullying, although the reasons remain unclear ( Bauman & Baldasare, 2015; Guasp, 2012 ). Others have demonstrated that there is an association between increased digital media use and cyberbullying victimization, which is pertinent to this special population who tend to use digital media more than their peers ( GLSEN et al., 2013; Hinduja & Patchin, 2008; Navarro, Serna, Martínez, & Ruiz-Oliva, 2013 ). Other factors that appear to be unique for LGBTQ youth are potential barriers to reporting cyberbullying and getting much needed support and/or interventions. Research indicates that due to stigma-related stressors associated with coming out, LGBTQ youth are less likely to report cyberbullying victimization to their parents and to adults at school ( Blumenfeld & Cooper, 2010 ). This is especially true if they are targeted specifically because of their perceived sexuality and/or gender identity.

Evidence shows that experiences of online victimization also vary due to gender and sexual orientation among LGBTQ youth. For example, bisexual girls are found to be more prone to cyberbullying victimization compared to their heterosexual ( Cénat, Blais, Hébert, Lavoie, & Guerrier, 2015 ) and lesbian counterparts ( Robinson & Espelage, 2011 ). In contrast, for bisexual boys, the likelihood of being victimized in a cyberbullying incident is less than it is for their heterosexual and gay counterparts. In other words, there is variability in the prevalence of cyberbullying within the LGBTQ community, but the associations and possible mechanisms at play remain underexplored.

The poor outcomes associated with cyberbullying victimization correspond to the adverse consequences of traditional peer victimization for all youth. The well-established association between cyberbullying and deleterious biopsychosocial outcomes have also been demonstrated by research with LGBTQ youth ( Abreu & Kenny, 2018 ). Consistent with MST ( Meyer, 2003 ), online victimization among LGBTQ youth is associated with detrimental mental health outcomes. For example, depression was found to be one of the correlates of online victimization among LGBTQ youth ( Schneider, O’Donnell, Stueve, & Coulter, 2012 ). More specifically, 33.9% of the youth who experience cyberbullying victimization reported depressive symptoms, which was significantly higher than their nonvictim counterparts. Online victimization is also associated with psychological distress in general ( McConnell, Clifford, Korpak, Phillips, & Birkett, 2017 ). Furthermore, Cénat et al. (2015) found that LGBTQ youth who report experiences of cyberbullying victimization are more likely to have suicidal ideation. In a systematic review exploring adverse consequences of online victimization among LGBTQ youth, Abreu and Kenny (2018) illustrated the relation between cyberbullying victimization and various poor behavioral, mental health, and academic outcomes.

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[A cyberbullying study: Analysis of cyberbullying, comorbidities and coping mechanisms]


Introduction: Cyberbullying is a relatively new form of bullying. This bullying is committed by means of an electronic act, the transmission of a communication by message, text, sound, or image by means of an electronic device, including but limited to, a computer phone, wireless telephone, or other wireless communication device, computer, games console or pager. Cyberbullying is characterized by deliberately threatening, harassing, intimidating, or ridiculing an individual or group of individuals; placing an individual in reasonable fear of harm; posting sensitive, private information about another person without his/her permission; breaking into another person's account and/or assuming another individual's identity in order to damage that person's reputation or friendships.

Literature finding: A review of the literature shows that between 6 and 40% of all youths have experienced cyberbullying at least once in their lives. Several cyberbullying definitions have been offered in the literature, many of which are derived from definitions of traditional bullying. In our study we asked clear definition of cyberbullying. Few studies explicate the psychosocial determinants of cyberbullying, and coping mechanisms. The authors of the literature recommend developing resiliency, but without analyzing the resilience factor.

Objectives: The first aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of adolescents and adults engaged in cyberbullying. The second aim was to examine the coping mechanisms and comorbidity factors associated with the cyberbullied people.

Methodology: The sample was composed of 272 adolescents (from a high school) and adults (mean age=16.44 ± 1). The Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire was used to identify profiles of cyberbullying. Coping mechanisms were investigated using the Hurt Disposition Scale (HDS) and the Brief Resilience Scale (BRS). Comorbidities were assessed using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HAD), Liebowitz's Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS), and the Bermond-Vorst Alexithymia Questionnaire (BVAQ).

Results: Almost one student in three was involved in cyberbullying (34.9% as cyber-victim, 16.9 as cyberbully); 4.8% of our sample was concerned by bullying as a victim. The victims of bullying were also victims of cyberbullying. The mean age of victims of cyberbullying was 17.84 ± 5.9 years, and the mean age of victims of bullying was 16.3 ± 4.5 years. Correlation coefficient was significant for HAD, LSAS, BVAQ scales with CQ. The retaliatory variable of HDS scale was not significant. Finally, the coping strategies of students who reported victimization were explored. These strategies include coping, telling someone, figuring out the situation, and avoidant coping. The results showed for the victims of cyberbullying, that they take longer to recover from a stressful event, compared to victims of bullying.

Conclusion: Results have indicated the importance of further study of cyberbullying because its association with comorbidities was distinct from traditional forms of bullying. The biggest risk factor for the adolescents is the severity of the consequences. These are: the adoption of the avoidance coping strategy, the occurrence of offline bullying during the situation, the adoption of the self-control coping strategy, the variety of cyberbullying acts, the victim's level of self-blame, the victim's perception of the duration of the situation, and the frequency of cyberbullying victimization.

Keywords: Adolescents; Anxiety; Cyberbullying; Depression; Harcèlement; Internet; Mécanismes d’adaptations; Resilience; Youth.

Copyright © 2014 L’Encéphale, Paris. Published by Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.

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78 Cyber Bullying Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

🏆 best cyber bullying topic ideas & essay examples, 💡 interesting topics to write about cyber bullying, 👍 good essay topics on cyber bullying, ❓ questions about cyberbullying research, 💯 free cyber bullying essay topic generator.

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Cyberbullying Research Paper

In its traditional sense, ‘bullying’ can be defined as an aggressive intentional and repeated behavior of a group or an individual against a victim who cannot defend him or herself. Cyberbullying is an aggressive and repeated behavior carried out online, using electronic forms of contact, such as mobile phones, emails and social networks. Whereas cyberbullying can take many forms, major types of online aggressive behavior are text messages, pictures and videos, phone calls, emails, instant messaging and bullying via websites. The advent and wide spread of electronic communication technologies gave rise to new forms of bullying, which take place in cyberspace but might have serious negative consequences for victims in real life, leading even to isolation, suicides or serious psycho-social disorders. Whereas the aggressive behaviors via electronic channels might seem milder, the implications of cyberbullying for the victims can be as hard as the consequences of bullying in its traditional sense or even worse than that.

The availability of Internet and popularity of social networks along with the seeming anonymity of interactions make cyberbullying the dominant bullying form among modern youths. According to the findings of one of the recent studies conducted by Slonje and Smith (2007), 22% of students experienced cyberbullying at least once (p. 148). At the same time, about 7% of students are continually cyberbullied and they experience repetitive aggressive attacks. The responses of victims mainly depend upon their peers’ awareness of the bullying incidents. Thus, a bullying incident known to more people is more offensive than that known only to a victim. For this reason, in most cases victims tell only their best friends about the unpleasant experiences of cyberbullying in which they were victims. Thus, parents and teachers are often unaware of the bullying instances taking place in certain groups of students and thus, adults cannot help students overcome their difficulties or interfere and try to influence the situation and the behavior of all the participants of the conflict. In some cases (about 10%), students even decide not to tell anyone about being bullied. Importantly, different forms of cyberbullying can result in different levels of public awareness of the incident. For example, the bullying instances involving pictures and video clips usually become known to about 43% of a class, whereas about 37% of people know about phone calls and only29% of the group know of text messages. Taking into account the fact that there’s a direct relationship between the level of awareness of a particular incident and the victim’s perception and response to it, it can be stated that the intention to conceal cyberbullying cases is one of the coping strategies aimed at neutralizing the possible aftermath and consequences of victimization.

Along with the differences in awareness levels and implications of different forms of cyberbullying, the responses to cyberbullying in different individuals can vary, depending on their age, gender and other psychosocial characteristics. Thus, Snell and Englander (2010) stated that girls are more often get involved in cyberbullying, both as victims and actual bullies, whereas boys more often take part in physical bullying (p. 510). The main explanation for this difference is that in most cases females prefer indirect relational aggression, whereas males choose physical aggression often taking the form of fights. The major types of relational bullying chosen by girls can be successfully carried out online. The main manipulative strategies include gossiping, spreading rumors, betrayals or excluding victims, depriving them of the feel of belonging. The cyberbullying can take the form of threats, harassing or humiliation on the basis of appearance, ethnic or psycho-social characteristics. Thus, girls can be attacked for not complying with the generally accepted beauty standards or for not belonging to certain social groups and not being involved in popular social activities. Whereas bullies can easily find an excuse for attacking their peer, too shy, introvert and overweight individuals are most likely to become victims of bullying attacks. Therefore, the individual peculiarities which previously could make students objects of traditional bullying have now been transferred to cyberspace, making some individuals victims of aggressive attacks and revealing the overall lack of tolerance and empathy in modern community.

Even taking place online, cyberbullying may have serious consequences for its victims in the real world. Thus, continuous attacks and repetitive abuses may influence an individual’s self-perception, self-esteem and overall psychological wellbeing. In some cases, the abusive messages may have almost hypnotic effect on a person. A skinny girl, who is constantly called fat, can end up believing this claim and distorting her own body image under the influence of someone whose only goal is to have fun and boost their own self-esteem. Along with the unhealthy messages sent by mass media and beauty industry, cyberbullying attacks distort self-perception of modern females, having a negative impact on their eating habits and relations with others (Willard, 2007, p. 28). Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are extreme but widely spread consequences of distorted body image and cyberbullying. Therefore, repetitive aggressive attacks can have long-lasting effects on personal development and psycho-social well-being of a victim. Consequently, the new form of bullying taking place in the cyberspace requires further research and measures for increasing the students’ awareness of the potential threats of Internet use and the most effective coping strategies.

Cyberbullying is an important problem of modern education system. Taking place in cyberspace, these repetitive aggressive actions often become known to large groups of students, whereas there’s a direct link between the number of people who are aware of bullying and the victimization process. Even though girls are more likely to be involved in cyberbullying than boys, the victimization as a result of aggressive attacks in the form of offensive pictures, video clips, text messages or phone calls can have serious negative consequences for the psycho-social wellbeing of both male and female students.

Reference List

Slonje, R. & Smith, P. (2007). Cyberbullying: Another main type of bullying? Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 29(2), 147 – 154.

Snell, P. & Englander, E. (2010). Cyberbullying victimization and behaviors among girls: Applying research findings in the field. Journal of Social Sciences 6(4), 510 – 514. Retrieved from

Willard, N. (2007). Cyberbulling and cyberthreats: Responding to the challenge of online social aggression, threats and distress. Malloy Inc.: New York, NY.

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Bullying Research Paper

research paper about cyberbullying

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Bullying defined.

Stability of Bullying Roles

The Bully-Victim

The peer group, parenting and home environment, sibling relationships, school factors, internalizing problems, academic performance, delinquency and criminality, impact beyond victims.

Future Directions and Conclusion

Bullying Research Paper

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Bullying has received worldwide attention in the last 30 years as a form of aggressive behavior that can have a significant negative impact on the physical, emotional, and academic development of victims. The first major contribution to the academic study of bullying was made by Dan Olweus, who wrote the first scholarly book in English to deal with bullying. The book was written in response to the suicide of three bullied boys in Norway and reported a high prevalence of school bullying (20 % of Norwegian children reported having some involvement) as well as discussed the success of the world’s first bullying prevention program (Olweus 1993). Olweus’ work opened the way for an explosion of research on bullying, which expanded from an initial interest in schools to include broader contexts such as the workplace, prisons, and sibling relationships. While much of this work is of interest, showing that bullying has the potential to affect a significant proportion of the population, this review focuses on school bullying, as this is the area that has attracted the most research interest to date.

The international literature is repleted with definitions of school bullying, most of which seem to accept that bullying is any type of negative action intended to cause distress or harm that is repeated and targeted against individuals who cannot defend themselves. When research on bullying started in the 1980s, bullying was perceived to comprise only episodes of physical or verbal aggression where the victim was physically attacked or called names. In recent years, the definition of bullying has broadened to include other forms of aggression that are relational in nature and aim to damage the victim’s peer relationships and their social status such as spreading of malicious gossip and social exclusion. Fighting between people of approximately equal strength, a one-time attack, or a good-natured teasing and play fighting are not counted as bullying.

The advent and widespread use of electronic means of communication such as mobile phones and the Internet has made it easier to bully anonymously, through the use of pseudonyms and temporary accounts, at any time and in any place involving a wide audience. This development has meant that the definition of bullying has had to be expanded to account for what the literature refers to as “cyber-bullying” or “electronic bullying.” A nationally representative survey of 7,508 adolescents in the United States in 2005 found that 8.3 % had bullied others and 9.8 % had been bullied electronically at least once in the last 2 months (Wang et al. 2009). In the same year in England and Wales, a survey of pupils aged 11–16 found that 22 % had been cyber-bullied at least once or twice in the last couple months (Smith et al. 2008). The most common form of cyber-bullying internationally is sending threatening and/or nasty text messages.

Bullying Prevalence and Continuity

National variation in bullying.

There are large variations across countries in the prevalence of bullying perpetration and victimization. In an international survey of health-related symptoms among school-aged children, the percentage of students who reported being frequently bullied during the current term ranged from a low of 5 % to 10 % in some countries to a high of 40 % in others (Due et al. 2005). The prevalence of bullies in primary school ranges, in most countries, between 7 % and 12 % and remains at those levels in secondary school (around 10 %). It is unclear whether these differences in prevalence reflect genuinely different levels of engagement in bullying among countries or, at least partly, result from different meanings of the term “bullying” in different countries and differences in methodologies and samples used.

An example of why valid comparisons between countries are not possible is Portugal where the bullying rate is high compared to other countries. Berger (2007) in her analysis found that one detail of educational policy in Portugal may account, among other things, for this higher rate of bullying. In Portuguese schools, children are asked to repeat sixth grade unless they pass a rigorous test. This practice results in at least 10 % of all sixth graders (more often boys) to be held back 2 years or more, and these older, bigger children are almost twice as likely to bully compared to the class average. This suggests that the difference in prevalence rates between countries may be, at least partly, accounted for by external factors including national differences in school policies and environments but also differences in the methodologies used (self-reports vs. peer and/or teacher reports), students’ differing levels of cognitive ability, cultural differences in reporting, and different meanings of the term “bullying” in different countries.

The Importance of Age in Bullying

Despite variations in prevalence, it is a universal finding that bullying victimization is more frequent among younger children and steadily declines with age. A range of explanations have been put forward to explain these age differences (Smith et al. 1999a, b). Compared to older children, younger children are less likely to have developed the appropriate skills and coping strategies to deal effectively with bullies and avert further victimization. Younger children are also less likely to refrain from bullying others due to socialization pressure. Finally, there is evidence that younger students adopt a more inclusive definition of bullying when responding to prevalence surveys, and this may, at least partly, account for the higher reported frequency of bullying victimization in primary school. For example, younger pupils might find it more difficult to distinguish between bullying and fighting, broadening the use of the term bullying to include aggressive behaviors that involve no imbalance of power. Within the general trend of decreasing bullying victimization over time, researchers have observed an abrupt increase in bullying during the transition from primary to secondary school which may reflect some students’ attempts to establish dominance hierarchies in the new school environment. Relational forms of bullying take precedence over physical modes of attack as children grow older and their social skills improve.

There is some controversy in the literature as to the stability of bullying victimization in primary school. Some studies have reported that bullying victimization is relatively stable over a period of up to 4 years in primary school and often continues in secondary school. Other studies have found that only a relatively small proportion of children (around 4–5 %) are victimized repeatedly over time in primary school.

In secondary school, the stability of both bully and victim roles is considerably higher than in primary school according to teacher, peer, and self-reports. It is estimated that two out of three male bullies remain in their role over a 1-year period. Despite the moderate to high stability of the victim and bully roles in secondary school, prevalence rates are lower than in primary school. This suggests that a small number of victims are targeted consistently and systematically in secondary school.

Stability in bullying victimization has been explained in two ways. Firstly, it has been observed that victims select social environments that reinforce the risk of victimization, for example, they are more likely to have friends who are less accepted by the peer group and often victimized themselves. Secondly, victims often lack the social skills to break through in new environments, and this increases the risk that they are labeled as victims and locked in that role over a long period of time. It is important, therefore, to acknowledge that although for some children bullying victimization will be situational, for others it will develop into a trait.

Gender Differences in Bullying

The view that males are more likely to bully and be bullied than females has been dismissed in recent years following a better understanding about the different forms aggressive behavior such as bullying can take. Although males are more likely to engage in physical forms of bullying such as pushing and hitting, females are, according to some studies, more adept at employing relational forms of aggression (e.g., social exclusion, spreading of nasty rumors) against their victims especially during adolescence. No consistent gender differences have been identified in the use of verbal bullying (e.g., calling names, nasty teasing). This suggests that overall gender differences are not as pronounced as originally thought and that bullying is not a male problem.

Characteristics of Children and Adolescents Involved in Bullying

There is some controversy in the literature about the profile of bullies. Initially, studies described children who bullied others as insecure, anxious individuals who have low self-esteem, are unpopular among their classmates, and use aggressive strategies to resolve conflicts. This stereotype was later disputed by research that suggested bullies are socially competent and have superior theory of mind skills (i.e., awareness of others’ mental functions and states) and good levels of social intelligence, knowing how to attain goals without damaging their reputation. Linked to this, there is also debate concerning whether bullies lack empathic skills. Some research suggests that bullies understand the emotions of others but do not share them. The inconsistencies across studies may be, at least partly, due to different definitions of bully status and different methodologies employed. Studies which have distinguished between “pure” bullies and bully/victims have revealed that “pure” bullies have few conduct problems, perform well at school, are popular among their classmates, and do not suffer from physical and psychosomatic health problems.

There is more consensus on the profile of “pure” victims. Research has identified that “pure” victims exhibit elevated levels of depression and anxiety, low self-esteem, and poor social skills. Hawker and Boulton’s (2000) meta-analysis found that peer victimization is more strongly concurrently associated with depression than with anxiety, loneliness, or self-esteem. Another meta-analysis by Card (2003) found that the strongest correlates of the victimization experience are low self-concept, low physical strength, low school enjoyment, poor social skills, and high internalizing and externalizing problems. It was unclear from these reviews of cross-sectional studies, however, whether internalizing problems lead to victimization or vice versa.

The recent body of longitudinal research on bullying and peer victimization more widely suggests that the relationship between internalizing problems such as depression, anxiety and loneliness, and victimization is more likely to be reciprocal, that is, internalizing problems contribute to victimization and vice versa. A metaanalysis of 18 longitudinal studies examining associations between peer victimization and internalizing problems in children and adolescents concluded that internalizing problems both precede and follow peer victimization experiences (Reijntjes et al. 2011). It is worth noting, however, that the path from psychological maladjustment to victimization has not been replicated in all studies. For instance, Bond et al. (2001) found no support for the hypothesis that emotional maladjustment invites victimization.

Recent work suggests that bullying might arise out of early cognitive deficits, including language problems, imperfect causal understanding, and poor inhibitory control that lead to decreased competence with peers, which over time develops into bullying. Research does not support the assertion that physical appearance (e.g., wearing glasses) is a risk factor for being bullied at school. The only physical characteristic that has been associated with an increased risk of victimization is low physical size and strength. There is less evidence on how equality characteristics influence victimization. There is no consistently robust evidence to suggest that ethnic minority children are more at risk of being bullied at school. Sexual orientation has rarely been investigated in longitudinal studies as a possible risk factor of bullying victimization, but there is some, mainly qualitative, evidence of sexual minorities being targeted in secondary schools. There is stronger evidence that children with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to victimization in mainstream settings, although it might be other characteristics of disabled children that make them more vulnerable to victimization such as lack of friends rather than the disability per se.

Olweus (1993) was the first researcher to identify a small proportion of victims of bullying that he called “provocative victims” or “bully-victims,” who bully other children as well as being bullied by them. Research has identified that bully-victims are the most troubled group among children and adolescents involved in bullying incidents. This group displays the highest levels of internalizing problems, including depression, anxiety, low selfesteem, and loneliness. At the same time, they score high on externalizing problems such as aggression, impulsivity, hyperactivity, and conduct problems. Other research has shown that bully-victims display higher levels of neuroticism and psychoticism than either bullies or victims. Bully-victims use aggressive strategies to cope with stressors at school that increase the risk of further victimization and rejection from peers.

Besides the traditional roles of bully, victim, and bully-victim, research has identified that all students take on a role when bullying episodes emerge. Salmivalli et al. (1996) distinguished between six different roles children can take in bullying situations: the bully (leader), the reinforcer (encourages and provides audience), the assistant (follower/helper, e.g., holds the child down), the defender (helps the victim and/or tells bullies to stop), the outsider (stays away from bullying situations), and the victim. Subsequent research established that the three roles of bully, reinforcer, and assistant are closely correlated with each other and, therefore, cannot usefully discriminate between children. In kindergarten, the three most commonly held roles are those of the bully, the victim, and the defender. Fewer students are defenders by middle school, and the majority becomes witnesses or bystanders when bullying takes place. Such passive behavior, although not directly encouraging of bullying, provides a permissive context for bullies that allows them to continue harassing their victims.

Environmental Influences on Bullying

There is clear evidence that parenting styles are related to bullying behavior. Studies indicate that bullies are more likely to have parents who are authoritarian and punitive, disagree more often, and are less supportive. The parents of bullies are more likely to have been bullies themselves when they were young. Victims, on the other hand, are more likely to have been reared in an overprotective family environment. Bully-victims tend to come from family backgrounds that are exposed to abuse and violence and favor the use of harsh, punitive, and restrictive discipline practices. This group reports little positive warmth in their families and more difficulties in communicating with parents.

Family characteristics are related to bullying victimization in different ways for boys and girls. Boys are more prone to victimization when the father is highly critical or absent in his relationship with his son, thus failing to provide a satisfactory role model. Victimization in boys is also associated with maternal overprotectiveness which may hinder boys’ search for autonomy and independence, whereas victimization in girls is more strongly related to maternal hostility which may lead to anxiety and decreased sense of connectedness in relationships.

Very little research has examined longitudinal associations between early home environment and subsequent bullying behavior. The few studies that exist suggest a link between low emotional support and subsequent bullying behavior at school. Parents who are disagreeable, hostile, cold, or rejecting tend to have children who are at risk of becoming aggressive in the future. In a small longitudinal study, Schwartz et al. (1997) found that bully-victims at 10 years were significantly more likely than the other groups to have had experiences with harsh, disorganized, and potentially abusive home environments 5 years earlier. Mother-child interactions at 5 years were characterized by hostile, restrictive, or overly punitive parenting. They were significantly exposed to higher levels of marital conflicts and more likely to come from marginally lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Bullies were found to be exposed to adult aggression and conflicts, but not victimization by adults, and were from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. These findings need to be replicated in larger samples before any safe conclusions can be drawn.

More recently, there has been interest in how sibling relationships affect the development of bullying behavior. There is international evidence that children who are victimized at school are more likely, compared to other groups, to be victimized by their siblings at home. Wolke and Samara (2004) found that more than half of victims of bullying by siblings (50.7 %) were also involved in bullying behavior at school compared to only 12.4 % of those not victimized by siblings, indicating a strong link between intrafamilial and extrafamilial peer relationships. Those who were both victimized at home and at school had the highest behavior problems and were the least prosocial. Similar evidence exists in relation to bullying perpetration, suggesting that those who bully at school tend to exhibit similar behaviors towards their siblings at home.

A number of school factors have also been implicated as correlates of bullying behavior. One of the most consistent findings in the international literature is that the number and quality of friends at school is one of the strongest, if not the strongest, protective factor against bullying victimization. Having friends is not sufficient in itself to protect against victimization. For instance, when at-risk children have friends with internalizing problems, who are physically weak or who themselves are victimized, the relation of children’s behavioral risk to victimization is exacerbated.

More recent work on the role of class structure and climate on bullying has shown that variations in peer structure and dominance hierarchies influence the stability of bullying victimization. For example, victims in primary school classes with a more pronounced hierarchical structure are less likely to escape their victim role compared to those in classes with less clearly marked hierarchies (Sch€afer et al. 2005).

Consequences of Bullying

There has been a growing interest in recent years to investigate the long-term effects of bullying involvement on children’s and adolescents’ social, emotional, behavioral, and academic development using longitudinal samples. The results of these studies suggest that victims and bully-victims manifest more adjustment problems than bullies. Victims and, especially, bully-victims are more likely to show elevated levels of depression, anxiety, and loneliness; perform less well academically; and display conduct problems. The only negative long-term outcome that has consistently been reported in the literature for bullies is their involvement in later offending. There is also some initial evidence that bullying perpetration is a significant risk factor of poor academic performance.

Several cross-sectional studies have demonstrated negative associations between peer victimization and a range of internalizing problems, including loneliness and low self-esteem. A meta-analysis of 23 cross-sectional studies of the association between peer victimization and psychological maladjustment found that peer victimization was more strongly concurrently associated with depression than with anxiety, loneliness, or self-esteem (Hawker and Boulton 2000).

Over the last decade, research on bullying is increasingly reliant on longitudinal methodologies to disentangle whether victimization contributes to internalizing problems or vice versa. It has been argued, for example, that children who display internalizing behaviors (e.g., anxiety or shyness) are more at risk of being targeted by peers due to their inability to cope effectively with provocation. The majority of longitudinal studies investigating associations between peer victimization and psychological maladjustment have found evidence for both directions.

There is some longitudinal evidence that bullying involvement has a negative impact on academic performance, although more studies are needed to reach a definitive conclusion. A US longitudinal study that began in 2002 with a sample of about 1,700 adolescents found that being a bully had a stronger negative effect on self-perceived academic competence over time than being a victim after controlling for demographic background variables and baseline academic competence (Ma et al. 2009). Furthermore, only bully status predicted lower self-reported grades.

Despite showing fewer adjustment problems than victims and bully-victims, bullies are at an increased risk of later delinquency and criminal offending. A recent meta-analysis of studies measuring school bullying and later offending found that school bullies were 2.5 times more likely than noninvolved students to engage in offending over an 11-year follow-up period (Ttofi et al. 2011). The risk was lower when major childhood risk factors were controlled for, but remained statistically significant. The effect of bullying on later offending was especially pronounced when bullying was assessed in older children. The longitudinal association between bullying perpetration and later offending has been replicated in many countries, including Australia, Canada, and Europe.

Finally, there is evidence that bullying and victimization have a negative impact not only on the individual children involved but also on bystanders. Children who witness bullying incidents report increased anxiety, less satisfaction with school, and lower academic achievement. There is also evidence that in school classes where a lot of victimization is taking place, school satisfaction among students is low.

Bullying Interventions

Following the development of the first anti-bullying program by Dan Olweus in Norway in the 1980s, a considerable number of anti-bullying interventions have flourished around the world to reduce bullying behaviors and protect victims. These fall under four broad categories: curriculum interventions generally designed to promote an anti-bullying attitude within the classroom; whole-school programs that intervene on the school, class, and individual level and address bullying as a systemic problem; social and behavioral skills training; and peer support programs including befriending and peer mediation. A systematic review conducted in 2004 evaluated the strength of scientific evidence in support of anti-bullying programs (Vreeman and Carroll 2007). The review concluded that only a small number of anti-bullying programs have been evaluated rigorously enough to permit strong conclusions about their effectiveness.

Whole-school interventions were found to be more effective in reducing victimization and bullying than interventions that focused only on curriculum changes or social and behavioral skills training. Targeting the whole school involves actions to improve the supervision of the playground, having regular meetings between parents and teachers, setting clear guidelines for dealing with bullying, and using role-playing and other techniques to teach students about bullying. The success of whole-school interventions, relative to other stand-alone approaches, supports the view that bullying is a systemic, sociocultural phenomenon derived from factors operating at the individual, class, school, family, and community level. Hence, interventions that target only one level are unlikely to have a significant impact.

A more recent systematic review of school-based anti-bullying programs found that, overall, these programs are effective in reducing bullying perpetration and victimization by an average of 20–23 % and 17–20 %, respectively (Farrington and Ttofi 2009). The interventions that were found to be most effective were those that incorporated parent training/meetings, disciplinary methods, and videos; targeted older children; and were delivered intensively and for longer. There is less robust evidence on the effectiveness of peer support programs that include activities such as befriending, peer counseling, conflict resolution, or mediation, and a systematic review suggested their use may lead to increases in bullying victimization.

More recently, there has been a growing interest in the use of virtual learning environments to reduce bullying at schools. The basic feature of these programs is a computer-based environment that creates a highly believable learning experience for children who find themselves “present” in the situation that causes emotional distress and, as a result, learn experientially how to deal with school problems. An example of such a program is “FearNot,” an intervention that was developed to help victims of bullying explore the success or otherwise of different coping strategies to dealing with bullying victimization through interactions with “virtual” victims of school bullying. The evaluation of this intervention found that the victims that received the intervention were more likely to escape victimization in the short term than victims in control schools who did not interact with the software (Sapouna et al. 2010). These results suggest that the use of virtual environments might be an engaging and useful component of whole-school anti-bullying policies that merits further testing. A key finding that emerged from this research is that interventions are more likely to be successful if they have the support of teachers and other school personnel and there is a strong commitment to reduce bullying in the school community. This is considered to be one of the reasons behind the huge success of the Olweus’ prevention program that has not been replicated to date.

Although an abundance of knowledge has emerged in recent years regarding the correlates of bullying behavior, there is still relatively little known about the causal processes and mechanisms associated with the bully and victim status. Longitudinal studies, which track bullies and victims over time, offer one of the best chances of disentangling the antecedents of bullying perpetration and victimization from its consequences, and these should form a key part of future research in this field. Another approach which shows much promise is the cutting-edge attempt to unravel the causes of bullying behavior made by researchers investigating biological and environmental influences and the way these influences interact.

One of these studies, involving 1,116 families with 10-year-old twins, found that the tendency for children to be bullied was largely explained by genetics (73 % of variance) and less so by environmental factors that were unique to each child (Ball et al. 2008). Another study of 506 six-year-old twins found that variance in victimization was accounted for only by shared and non-shared environmental influences (29 % and 71 %, respectively) and was not related to the child’s genetic predisposition (Brendgen et al. 2008). These discrepancies might be explained by differences in methodologies used, as studies drew on different informants to assess bullying victimization (mothers and peers, respectively). Although results to date have been contradictory, future breakthroughs in this area have the potential to transform radically the study of bullying.

To understand more fully how bullying behaviors develop, future research will also need to investigate in more depth how individual and classroom level factors interact to cause involvement in bullying. It is not currently understood whether the relationship between risk factors and bullying is the same across different school and class environments or the extent to which consequences of bullying and victimization are dependent on class-and school-level factors.

Finally, another area that would benefit from more attention is the investigation of resilience to bullying. Some initial evidence suggests that maternal warmth has an environmental effect in protecting children from negative outcomes associated with victimization (Bowes et al. 2010). However, we still know relatively little about the factors that promote resilience to bullying and victimization among at-risk children, and also what role bullying has to play in increasing resilience. We also know little about the factors that help victims cope better with the effects of victimization.

To conclude, what the recent flurry of research activity has highlighted is how complex the bullying phenomenon is and that, although much has been learned to date, there is clearly a great need to understand how variables describing the family, school, class, and community environment interact with individual characteristics to determine who gets bullied and who bullies others. Research should neither be blind to nor discouraged by these complexities.


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Cyberbullying, Research Paper Example

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Cyberbullying, Research Paper Example

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Cyberbullying is use of information and communication tools to perpetuate intentional or deliberate, repeated behavior with ill motives of causing harm to others. Until recently this has not been a subject of discussion albeit heartedly because it was not all that serious. But with the advent of the internet and subsequent advancement of technological tools like notebooks, tablets and mobile phones, cyberbullying has evolved to a very challenging issue in our lives now more than ever before (Smith, 2009).

Negative effects of cyber bullying

The effects that cyberbullying in individuals greatly differs from one person to another. This is dependent on a number of factors like age, experience, knowledge, emotional maturity among many other variables. This is because we all perceive what happens around us very differently (Smith, 2009).

Smith goes further to indicate that physical effects that have been reported include attempts to harm one self, physical harm and even suicide cases have been reported in some extreme cases! Psychologically bullying through social networking, have been known to bring about low self esteem, psychosomatic symptoms and even withdraw feelings. In fact the effect can be even far outreaching because social networking sites can reach a wider audience over very short time.

There are other harms of cyberbullying that are indirect or are just consequences of the same. One is the fact that it can lead to one dropping out of school (if one is schooling) or from work. This lead to poor performance in whatever occupation an individual is involved in.

The ability to reach a wider audience, more enduring nature of written word makes the matters even worse. Thus there is an urgent need for us to seek all possible ways to protect ourselves from this new wave of crime.

Peter Smith (2009). An investigation in to cyberbullying, its forms, awareness and impact, and the relationship between age and gender in cyber bullying. Oxford university press, London.

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Free Research Paper On Cyberbullying

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Cyber Bulling , Bullying , Victimology , Students , Crime , Criminal Justice , Sexual Abuse , Discrimination

Words: 1250

Published: 02/20/2023


Adolescents all across the world use the web for socializing, communicating and interacting. The era of online communication has led to a unique harmful dynamic for social relationships, where there are no faces, and thus a lower personal accountability. This has given rise to Internet harassment, and cyberbullying behavior seems to have become a norm this day. As compared to traditional bullying, cyberbullying gets access to an unlimited audience and increased exposure. Cyber bullying is an addition to the general bullying styles seen in schools and colleges. Several conditions distinguish friendly teasing from bullying which is unwanted, persistent and creates a power imbalance between the one who is bullying and the bullied. It is a sinister variation of verbal and written bullying. If one googles the term cyberbully, they will get millions of hits on Search engines, carrying web pages related to stories, agencies, and professions conferences related to cyberbullying. It is true that traditional bullying has moved over to the virtual world and taken on the name – cyber bullying. Regardless of how it is called or what technologies are used, it is the aggressive individual or groups seeking out weak and vulnerable victims. Sometimes, it is difficult to have precise descriptive words surrounding Cyberbullying. Still, with the choice of the right words, one can define it in a straightforward and concise manner as a deliberate and repeated behavior that inflicts harm through the use of computers and other electronic devices (McQuade, Colt and Meer Nancy 1). The bullying behavior reflects a pattern of behavior to harm a certain target. The data collected by the Cyberbullying Research Center from middle and high school students surveyed thousands of students from middle and high schools across the United. Although the rates of cyberbullying victimization vary over the past few years, and the rates did dip a bit in 2013, they have risen in 2014and 2015 (What is Cyberbullying 2014). More than 25% of the students surveyed in the recent studies have admitted that they have been cyberbullied at some point in their lifetimes. The researchers are trying to narrow down the risks of cyberbullying and how to curb them. Students’ sense of self-esteem during adolescence makes them more vulnerable to cyberbullying. It is also essential to locate those who are more at risk of getting involved with cyberbullying behavior (Nixon 149). Studies reflect that traditional rule-breaking behavior is a strong predictor of cyberbullying perpetration, followed by their frequency of online use. Those adults who were involved in traditions bullying in the real world are more likely to bully someone online. The children and youth of today face the same dangers of the bullying, only, the dangers have become a lot more challenging, with the advent of the internet. The bullying over the internet can lead to severe consequences. A closer analysis of the bullying cases online has led to the identification of several common aspects of bullying in computerized societies. Most of the victims were weak and vulnerable, and the computer technologies were used creatively to abuse the victim. Moreover, the cyberbullying victims also feared and experienced physical bullying (McQuade, Colt and Meyer 7). In most cases, personal relationships and sexuality were targeted. Parents and school authorities were not able to intervene successfully and the youth involved was not given the right guidance and protection. Cyberbullying victims feel alienated from their parents and peers and experience a higher degree of loneliness and isolation. It is not surprising to see that Cyberbullying victims are reported to have fewer friendships and a weaker social support system. Research was done to assess the impact of cyber bullying on mental health of adolescents shows development of negative disorders such as depression, suicidal ideate, anxiety and loneliness as asserted by Nixon (144). Cyber victims report the feeling of powerlessness and hopelessness against the perpetrator. The results demonstrate an increased rates of trauma symptomology among the victims. What adds to their fears is that the victims fear for their safety as they didn’t know their perpetrators. As Nixon (145) states, the reactions to being cyberbullied may rely on the kind of cyberbullying, its degree and duration. Different forms of cyberbullying may provoke the different emotional reaction. For instance, being bullied online will be different from being bullied on a phone. Studies show that adolescents get most disturbed due to any misuse of pictures and videos. Thus, different psychological outcomes can be expected. Recent research on both targets and perpetrators of cyberbullying were more likely to think about suicide or attempt it. However, it is the victim who is more likely to attempt suicide as compared to the perpetrator. Cyberbullied are under depression and suicidal ideation, and thus, there is a positive relationship between suicidal behavior and cyber victimization. The stage has come to take cyberbullying seriously and stop the blaming the technology, the school, and parents or the law. The overall usage of internet has increased more than 290%, and the growth is still going on a stated by McQuade, Colt and Meyer (10). A typical child anywhere in the world is growing up with the internet technology around him. Thus, the more adolescents are involved in cyberbullying, the more likely they are to engage in suicidal behavior. What adds to the problem are the increased substance use and physical violence, which are a result of the psychological pain associated with cyberbullying. The above discussion shows that it is the collective responsibility of parents, guardians, and mentor and the law authorities to take the subject of cyberbullying seriously and wake up to its serious consequences. The recent studies suggest the need for health care providers, educators, and caring adults to help the young and adolescents, and teach them constructive coping strategies to face cyber bullying effectively. Both victims and perpetrators need help and awareness. Recent study findings suggest a strong need for comprehensive programs directed at cyberbullying prevention and intervention. Education and awareness about cyberbullying should be incorporated into school curriculums and the community as a whole. Adolescents, teachers, parents and schools should get engaged in debates and community discussions regarding legislation and accountability of cyberbullying. (Nixon 155). To conclude on the subject of cyber bullying, adequate and timely prevention and intervention efforts can help reduce cyberbullying. An early detection of substance use and aggressive behavior plus looking for signs of loneliness and social anxiety in adolescents’, all point to the possibilities of cyberbullying. The teachers and parents of those students carry the first responsibility to develop a social support to locate nay incident of cyberbullying and mitigate its impact on adolescent health. Given the damaging effects of cyberbullying, effective prevention and intervention efforts are a priority in the digital society of today. Recent studies emphasize on the need and importance of prevention efforts on cyberbullying and how to protect adolescents’ from problem behaviors and safeguard their self-esteem. Parents, teachers and lawmakers should look for concrete solutions to not only safeguard the youth and children from the negative impacts of cyberbullying, but also prevent them from becoming a bully. It is important to raise awareness while the cyberbullying numbers are still low, and before the problem blows out of proportion and becomes unmanageable.

Works Cited

McQuade, Samuel C., Colt, James P. and Meyer Nancy B. B." Cyber Bullying: Protecting Kids and Adults from Online Bullies." ABC-CLIO 1.1 (2009): 1-219. Print. Nixon, Charisse L. “Current Perspectives: The Impact of Cyberbullying on Adolescent Health.” Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics 5 (2014): 143–158. PMC. Web. 11 Mar. 2016."What is Cyberbullying?" 2014. Web. 11 March. 2016.

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Cyberbullying and its influence on academic, social, and emotional development of undergraduate students

This study investigated the influence of cyberbullying on the academic, social, and emotional development of undergraduate students. It's objective is to provides additional data and understanding of the influence of cyberbullying on various variables affecting undergraduate students. The survey sample consisted of 638 Israeli undergraduate students. The data were collected using the Revised Cyber Bullying Survey, which evaluates the frequency and media used to perpetrate cyberbullying, and the College Adjustment Scales, which evaluate three aspects of development in college students. It was found that 57% of the students had experienced cyberbullying at least once or twice through different types of media. Three variables were found to have significant influences on the research variables: gender, religion and sexual preferences. Correlation analyses were conducted and confirmed significant relationships between cyberbullying, mainly through instant messaging, and the academic, social and emotional development of undergraduate students. Instant messaging (IM) was found to be the most common means of cyberbullying among the students.

The main conclusions are that although cyberbullying existence has been proven, studies of cyberbullying among undergraduate students have not been fully developed. This particular population needs special attention in future research. The results of this study indicate that cyberbullying has an influence on the academic, social, and emotional development of undergraduate students. Additional Implications of the findings are discussed.

1. Introduction

Cyberbullying is defined as the electronic posting of mean-spirited messages about a person (such as a student) often done anonymously ( Merriam-Webster, 2017 ). Most of the investigations of cyberbullying have been conducted with students in elementary, middle and high school who were between 9 and 18 years old. Those studies focused on examining the prevalence and frequency of cyberbullying. Using “cyberbullying” and “higher-education” as key words in Google scholar (January, 2019) (all in title) yields only twenty one articles. In 2009, 2012 and 2013 one article appeared each year, since 2014 each year there were few publications. Of these articles only seven relates to effect of cyberbullying on the students, thus a gap in the literature exists in that it only minimally reports on studies involving undergraduate students. Given their relationship and access to technology, it is likely that cyberbullying occurs frequently among undergraduates. The purpose of this study is to examine the frequency and media used to perpetrate cyberbullying, as well as the relationship that it has with the academic, social and emotional development of undergraduate students.

Undergraduate students use the Internet for a wide variety of purposes. Those purposes include recreation, such as communicating in online groups or playing games; academics, such as doing assignments, researching scholarships or completing online applications; and practical, such as preparing for job interviews by researching companies. Students also use the Internet for social communication with increasing frequency.

The literature suggests that cyberbullied victims generally manifest psychological problems such as depression, loneliness, low self-esteem, school phobias and social anxiety ( Grene, 2003 ; Juvonen et al., 2003 ; Akcil, 2018 ). Moreover, research findings have shown that cyberbullying causes emotional and physiological damage to defenseless victims ( Akbulut and Eristi, 2011 ) as well as psychosocial difficulties including behavior problems ( Ybarra and Mitchell, 2007 ), drinking alcohol ( Selkie et al., 2015 ), smoking, depression, and low commitment to academics ( Ybarra and Mitchell, 2007 ).

Under great emotional stress, victims of cyberbullying are unable to concentrate on their studies, and thus their academic progress is adversely affected ( Akcil, 2018 ). Since the victims are often hurt psychologically, the depressive effect of cyberbullying prevents students from excelling in their studies ( Faryadi, 2011 ). The overall presence of cyberbullying victimization among undergraduate college students was found to be significantly related to the experience of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, low self-esteem, interpersonal problems, family tensions and academic underperformance ( Beebe, 2010 ).

1.1. Cyberbullying and internet

The Internet has been the most useful technology of modern times, which has enabled entirely new forms of social interaction, activities, and organizing. This has been possible thanks to its basic features such as widespread usability and access. However, it also causes undesirable behaviors that are offensive or threatening to others, such as cyberbullying. This is a relatively new phenomenon.

According to Belsey (2006, p.1) , “Cyberbullying involves the use of information and communication technologies such as e-mail, cell-phone and pager text messages, instant messaging, defamatory personal web sites, blogs, online games and defamatory online personal polling web sites, to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group that is intended to harm others.” Characteristics like anonymity, accessibility to electronic communication, and rapid audience spread, result in a limitless number of individuals that can be affected by cyberbullying.

Different studies suggest that undergraduate students' use of the Internet is more significant and frequent than any other demographic group. A 2014 survey of 1006 participants in the U.S. conducted by the Pew Research Center revealed that 97% of young adults aged from 18 to 29 years use the Internet, email, or access the Internet via a mobile device. Among them, 91% were college students.

1.2. Mediums to perpetrate cyberbullying

The most frequent and common media within which cyberbullying can occur are:

Electronic mail (email): a method of exchanging digital messages from an author to one or more recipients.

Instant messaging: a type of online chat that offers real-time text transmission between two parties.

Chat rooms: a real-time online interaction with strangers with a shared interest or other similar connection.

Text messaging (SMS): the act of composing and sending a brief electronic message between two or more mobile phones.

Social networking sites: a platform to build social networks or social relations among people who share interests, activities, backgrounds or real-life connections.

Web sites : a platform that provides service for personal, commercial, or government purpose.

Studies indicate that undergraduate students are cyberbullied most frequently through email, and least often in chat rooms ( Beebe, 2010 ). Other studies suggest that instant messaging is the most common electronic medium used to perpetrate cyberbullying ( Kowalski et al., 2018 ).

1.3. Types of cyberbullying

Watts et al. (2017) Describe 7 types of cyberbullying: flaming, online harassment, cyberstalking, denigration, masquerading, trickery and outing, and exclusion. Flaming involves sending angry, rude, or vulgar messages via text or email about a person either to that person privately or to an online group.

Harassment involves repeatedly sending offensive messages, and cyberstalking moves harassment online, with the offender sending threatening messages to his or her victim. Denigration occurs when the cyberbully sends untrue or hurtful messages about a person to others. Masquerading takes elements of harassment and denigration where the cyberbully pretends to be someone else and sends or posts threatening or harmful information about one person to other people. Trickery and outing occur when the cyberbully tricks an individual into providing embarrassing, private, or sensitive information and posts or sends the information for others to view. Exclusion is deliberately leaving individuals out of an online group, thereby automatically stigmatizing the excluded individuals.

Additional types of cyberbullying are: Fraping - where a person accesses the victim's social media account and impersonates them in an attempt to be funny or to ruin their reputation. Dissing - share or post cruel information online to ruin one's reputation or friendships with others. Trolling - is insulting an individual online to provoke them enough to get a response. Catfishing - steals one's online identity to re-creates social networking profiles for deceptive purposes. Such as signing up for services in the victim's name so that the victim receives emails or other offers for potentially embarrassing things such as gay-rights newsletters or incontinence treatment. Phishing - a tactic that requires tricking, persuading or manipulating the target into revealing personal and/or financial information about themselves and/or their loved ones. Stalking – Online stalking when a person shares her personal information publicly through social networking websites. With this information, stalkers can send them personal messages, send mysterious gifts to someone's home address and more. Blackmail – Anonymous e-mails, phone-calls and private messages are often done to a person who bear secrets. Photographs & video - Threaten to share them publicly unless the victim complies with a particular demand; Distribute them via text or email, making it impossible for the victim to control who sees the picture; Publish the pictures on the Internet for anyone to view. Shunning - persistently avoid, ignore, or reject someone mainly from participating in social networks. Sexting - send sexually explicit photographs or messages via mobile phone.

1.4. Prevalence of cyberbullying

Previous studies have found that cyberbullying incidents among college students can range from 9% to 34% ( Baldasare et al., 2012 ).

Beebe (2010) conducted a study with 202 college students in United States. Results indicated that 50.7% of the undergraduate students represented in the sample reported experiencing cyberbullying victimization once or twice during their time in college. Additionally, 36.3% reported cyberbullying victimization on a monthly basis while in college. According to Dılmaç (2009) , 22.5% of 666 students at Selcuk University in Turkey reported cyberbullying another person at least once and 55.35% reported being a victim of cyberbullying at least once in their lifetimes. In a study of 131 students from seven undergraduate classes in United States, 11% of the respondents indicated having experienced cyberbullying at the university ( Walker et al., 2011 ). Of those, Facebook (64%), cell phones (43%) and instant messaging (43%) were the most frequent technologies used. Students indicated that 50% of the cyberbullies were classmates, 57% were individuals outside of the university, and 43% did not know who was cyberbullying them.

Data from the last two years (2017–18) is similar to the above. A research, of 187 undergraduate students matriculated at a large U.S. Northeastern metropolitan Roman Catholic university ( Webber and Ovedovitz, 2018 ), found that 4.3% indicated that they were victims of cyberbullying at the university level and a total of 7.5% students acknowledged having participated in bullying at that level while A survey (N = 338) at a large midwestern university conducted by Varghese and Pistole (2017) , showed that frequency counts indicated that 15.1% undergraduate students were cyberbully victims during college, and 8.0% were cyberbully offenders during college.

A study of 201 students from sixteen different colleges across the United States found a prevalence rate of 85.2% for college students who reported being victims of cyberbullying out of the total 201 responses recorded. This ranged from only occasional incidents to almost daily experiences with cyberbullying victimization ( Poole, 2017 ).

In A research of international students, 20.7% reported that they have been cyberbullied in the last 30 days once to many times ( Akcil, 2018 ).

1.5. Psychological impact of cyberbullying

Cyberbullying literature suggests that victims generally manifest psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem, social exclusion, school phobias and poor academic performance ( DeHue et al., 2008 ; Juvonen and Gross, 2008 ; Kowalski and Limber, 2007 ; Grene, 2003 ; Juvonen et al., 2003 ; Rivituso, 2012 ; Varghese and Pistole, 2017 ; Na, 2014 ; Akcil, 2018 ), low self-esteem, family problems, school violence and delinquent behavior ( Webber and Ovedovitz, 2018 ), which brings them to experience suicidal thoughts as a means of escaping the torture ( Ghadampour et al., 2017 ).

Moreover, research findings have shown that cyberbullying causes emotional and physiological damage to defenseless victims ( Faryadi, 2011 ) as well as psychosocial problems including inappropriate behaviors, drinking alcohol, smoking, depression and low commitment to academics ( Walker et al., 2011 ).

The victims of cyberbullying, under great emotional stress, are unable to concentrate on their studies, and thus their academic progress is adversely affected ( Faryadi, 2011 ). Since the victims are often hurt psychologically, the depressive effect of cyberbullying prevents students from excelling in their studies ( Faryadi, 2011 ).

In a Malaysian university study with 365 first year students, the majority of the participants (85%) interviewed indicated that cyberbullying affected their academic performance, specifically their grades ( Faryadi, 2011 ). Also, 85% of the respondents agreed that bullying caused a devastating impact on students' emotions and equally caused unimaginable psychological problems among the victims. Heiman and Olenik-Shemesh (2018) report that for students with learning disabilities, predictors of cybervictimization were low social support, low self-perception, and being female, whereas for students without learning disabilities, the predictors were low social support, low well-being, and low body perception.

1.6. Academic, social, and emotional development of undergraduate students

The transition to academic institutions is marked by complex challenges in emotional, social, and academic adjustment ( Gerdes and Mallinckrodt, 1994 ; Parker et al., 2004 ).

The adaptation to a new environment is an important factor in academic performance and future achievement. Undergraduate students are not only developing academically and intellectually, they are also establishing and maintaining personal relationships, developing an identity, deciding about a career and lifestyle, and maintaining personal health and wellness. Many students are interacting with people from diverse backgrounds who hold different values and making new friends. Some are also adapting to living away from home for the very first time ( Inkelas et al., 2007 ).

The concept of academic development involves not only academic abilities, but motivational factors, and institutional commitment. Motivation to learn, taking actions to meet academic demands, a clear sense of purpose, and general satisfaction with the academic environment are also important components of the academic field ( Lau, 2003 ).

A second dimension, the social field, may be as important as academic factors. Writers have emphasized integration into the social environment as a crucial element in commitment to a particular academic institution ( Tinto, 1975 ). Becoming integrated into the social life of college, forming a support network, and managing new social freedoms are some important elements of social development. Crises in the social field include conflict in a living situation, starting or maintaining relationships, interpersonal conflicts, family issues, and financial issues ( McGrath, 2005 ), which are manifested as feelings of loneliness ( Clark et al., 2015 ).

In the emotional field, students commonly question their relationships, direction in life, and self-worth ( Rey et al., 2011 ). A balanced personality is one which is emotionally adjusted. Emotional adjustment is essential for creating a sound personality. physical, intellectual mental and esthetical adjustments are possible when emotional adjustment is made ( Ziapour et al., 2018 ). Inner disorders may result from questions about identity and can sometimes lead to personal crises ( Gerdes and Mallinckrodt, 1994 ). Emotional problems may be manifested as global psychological distress, somatic distress, anxiety, low self-esteem, or depression. Impediments to success in emotional development include depression and anxiety, stress, substance abuse, and relationship problems ( Beebe, 2010 ).

The current study is designed to address two research questions: (1) does cyberbullying affect college students' emotional state, as measured by the nine factors of the College Adjustment Scales ( Anton and Reed, 1991 ); (2) which mode of cyberbullying most affects students' emotional state?

2.1. Research settings and participants

The present study is set in Israeli higher education colleges. These, function as: (1) institutions offering undergraduate programs in a limited number of disciplinary fields (mainly the social sciences), (2) centers for training studies (i.e.: teacher training curricula), as well as (3) as creators of access to higher education. The general student population is heterogeneous, coming from the Western Galilee. In this study, 638 Israeli undergraduate students participated. The sample is a representative of the population of the Western galilee in Israel. The sample was 76% female, 70% single, 51% Jewish, 27% Arabs, 7% Druze, and 15% other ethnicity. On the dimension of religiosity, 47% were secular, 37% traditional, 12% religious, 0.5% very religious, and 3.5% other. On the dimension of sexual orientation, 71% were straight women, 23.5% straight men, 4% bisexual, 1% lesbians, and 0.5% gay males (note: according to the Williams Institute, approximately 4% of the population in the US are LGBT, [ Gates, 2011 ], while 6% of the EU population are LGBT, [ Dalia, 2016 ]).

2.2. Instrumentation

Two instruments were used to collect data: The Revised Cyber Bullying Survey (RCBS), with a Cronbach's alpha ranging from .74 to .91 ( Kowalski and Limber, 2007 ), designed to measure incidence, frequency and medium used to perpetrate cyberbullying. The survey is a 32-item questionnaire. The frequency was investigated using a 5-item scale with anchors ranging from ‘it has never happened to me’ to ‘several times a week’. Five different media were explored: email, instant messaging, chat room, text messaging, and social networking sites. Each medium was examined with the same six questions related to cases of cyberbullying (see Table 1 ).

Description of the Revised Cyber Bullying Survey (RCBS) variables.

Note: the theoretical range is between zero to twenty-four.

Table 1 shows the five variables that composed the RCBS questionnaire (all of the variables are composed of 6 statements). The results indicate that the levels of all the variables is very low, which means that the respondents experienced cyberbullying once or twice. The internal consistency reliability estimate based on the current sample suggested that most of the variables have an adequate to high level of reliability, with a Cronbach's alpha of 0.68–0.87.

The College Adjustment Scales (CAS) ( Anton and Reed, 1991 ), evaluated the academic, social, and emotional development of college students. Values were standardized and validated for use with college students. The validity for each subscale ranged from .64 to .80, noting high correlations among scales. Reliability of the scales ranged from .80 to .92, with a mean of .86. The instrument included 128 items, divided into 10 scales: anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, self-esteem problems, interpersonal problems, family problems, academic problems, career problems, and regular activities (see Table 2 ). Students responded to each item using a four-point scale.

Description of CAS variables.

Anxiety: A measure of clinical anxiety, focusing on common affective, cognitive, and physiological symptoms.

Depression: A measure of clinical depression, focusing on common affective, cognitive, and physiological symptoms.

Suicidal Ideation: A measure of the extent of recent ideation reflecting suicide, including thoughts of suicide, hopelessness, and resignation.

Substance Abuse: A measure of the extent of disruption in interpersonal, social, academic, and vocational functioning as a result of substance use and abuse.

Self-esteem Problems: A measure of global self-esteem which taps negative self-evaluations and dissatisfaction with personal achievement.

Interpersonal Problems: A measure of the extent of problems in relating to others in the campus environment.

Family Problems: A measure of difficulties experienced in relationships with family members.

Academic Problems: A measure of the extent of problems related to academic performance.

Career Problems: A measure of the extent of problems related to career choice.

Participants also responded to a demographic questionnaire that included items on gender, birth year, marital status, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. As sexual orientation is a major cause for bullying ( Pollock, 2006 ; Cahill and Makadon, 2014 ), it was included in the background information.

Convenience sampling and purposive sampling were used for this study. Surveys with written instructions were administered in classrooms, libraries and online via Google Docs at the end of the semester.

The surveys were translated to Hebrew and back translated four times until sufficient translation was achieved. The research was approved by the Western Galilee College Research and Ethic Committee.

A sizeable percentage, 57.4% (366), of the respondents reported being cyber bullied at least once and 3.4% (22) reported being cyber bullied at least once a week. The types of bullies can be seen in Fig. 1 .

Fig. 1

Types of bullies.

Three variables were found to have significant influences on the research variables: (1) gender (see Table 3 ); (2) religion (see Table 4 ); and (3) sexual preferences (see Table 5 ).

Results of independent t-tests for research variables by gender.

Note: n male = 127, n female = 510, *p < .05.

Results of independent t-tests for research variables by level of religion.

Note: n religious = 345, n secular = 293, ∗ p < .05, ∗∗ p < .01, ∗∗∗ p < .001.

Results of independent t-tests for research variables by sexual preference.

Note: n heterosexual = 596, n other = 42, ∗ p < .05, ∗∗ p < .01, ∗∗∗ p < .001.

Independent t-tests between the CAS variables and gender show significant differences between females and males (see Table 3 ).

Independent t-tests between the CAS variables and level of religiosity show significant differences between secular and religious persons, i.e., observant believers (see Table 4 ).

Independent t-tests between the CAS variables and sexual preference show significant differences between heterosexual individuals and others (see Table 5 ).

The research population was divided into three age groups having five year intervals. One respondent who was 14 years old was removed from the population.

For the variable “career problems” it was found that there was a significant difference between the 26–30 year age group [p < .05, F(2,5815) = 3.49, M = 56.55] and the 31–35 (M = 56.07) as well as the 20–25 (M = 54.58) age groups.

For the variable "depression" it was found that there was a significant difference between the 20–25 year age group [p < .05, F(2,5815) = 3.84, M = 54.56] and the 31–35 (M = 51.61) as well as the 26–30 (M = 52.83) age groups.

For the variable “interpersonal problems” it was found that there was a significant difference between the 20–25 year age group [p < .06, F(2,5815) = 3.84, M = 53.85] and the 31–35 (M = 51.29) as well as the 26–30 (M = 52.19) age groups.

For the variable “suicidal ideation” it was found that there was a significant difference between the 20–25 year age group [p < .06, F(2,5815) = 3.84, M = 55.45] and the 31–35 (M = 49.71) as well as the 26–30 (M = 50.13) age groups (see Table 6 ).

Results of one way Anova for research variables by age.

Note: n 20-25 = 216, n 26-30 = 287, n 31-35 = 82, ∗ p < .05, ∗∗ p < .01, ∗∗∗ p < .001.

To confirm that there was no effect among the independent variables, a Pearson correlation analysis of cyberbullying with CAS variables was run. As the correlations between the independent variables are weak, no multicollinearity between them was noted (see Table 7 ).

Pearson correlation of cyberbullying with CAS variables.

Note: n = 638, ∼ p < .06, ∗ p < .05, ∗∗ p < .01, ∗∗∗ p < .001.

Regression analyses on the effect of the cyberbullying variables on the CAS variables (see Fig. 2 ) show that an increase in cyberbullying by social networking and IM increases the academic problems variable. The model explained 6.1% of the variance (F (13,585) = 2.94, p < .001) and shows an increase in the suicidal ideation variable. There is also a marginal effect of cyberbullying by SMS on suicidal ideation, revealing that an increase in cyberbullying by SMS causes a decrease in suicidal ideation. The explained variance of the model is 24.8% (F (11,584) = 14.80, p < .001). Higher cyberbullying by social networking results in an increase in the anxiety variable. The explained variance of the model is 8.8% (F (13,584) = 4.32, p < .001). An increase in cyberbullying by chat and IM shows an increase in the substance abuse variable. The model explains 13% of the variance (F (13,584) = 6.71, p < .001). Increasing cyberbullying by social networking and IM increases the self-esteem problems variable. The explained variance of the model is 9% (F (13,584) = 4.43, p < .001). An increase of cyberbullying by email increases the problems students have with regular activities. The explained variance of the model is 5.2% (F (13,575) = 2.44, p < .01). Heightened cyberbullying by social networking and IM increases students' interpersonal problems. There is also an effect of cyberbullying by IM on suicidal ideation, such that an increase in cyberbullying by IM causes a decrease in interpersonal problems. The explained variance of the model is 8% (F (13,584) = 3.89, p < .001). An increase in cyberbullying by SMS decreases the family problems variable. The explained variance of the model is 11.4% (F (13,584) = 5.76, p < .001). And finally, heightened cyberbullying by IM and social networking decreases the depression variable. The variance explained by the model is 11.9% (F (13,584) = 6.04, p < .001).

Fig. 2

The influence of academic cyberbullying variables on the CAS variables.

4. Discussion

The objective of this study was to fill an existing gap in the literature regarding the influence of cyberbullying on the academic, social, and emotional development of undergraduate students.

As has been presented, cyberbullying continues to be a disturbing trend not only among adolescents but also undergraduate students. Cyberbullying exists in colleges and universities, and it has an influence on the development of students. Fifty seven percent of the undergraduate students who participated in this study had experienced cyberbullying at least once during their time in college. As previous studies have found that cyberbullying incidents among college students can range from 9% to 50% ( Baldasare et al., 2012 ; Beebe, 2010 ) it seems that 57% is high. Considering the effect of smartphone abundance on one hand and on the other the increasing use of online services and activities by young-adults can explain that percentage.

Considering the effect of such an encounter on the academic, social and emotional development of undergraduate students, policy makers face a formidable task to address the relevant issues and to take corrective action as Myers and Cowie (2017) point out that due to the fact that universities are in the business of education, it is a fine balancing act between addressing the problem, in this case cyberbullying, and maintaining a duty of care to both the victim and the perpetrator to ensure they get their degrees. There is a clear tension for university authorities between acknowledging that university students are independent young adults, each responsible for his or her own actions, on one hand, and providing supervision and monitoring to ensure students' safety in educational and leisure contexts.

Although there are increasing reports on connections between cyberbullying and social-networks (see: Gahagan et al., 2016 ), sending SMS or MMS messages through Internet gateways ensures anonymity, thus indirectly supporting cyberbullying. A lot of websites require only login or a phone number that can also be made up ( Gálik et al., 2018 ) which can explain the fact that instant-messaging (IM) was found to be the most common means of cyberbullying among undergraduate students with a negative influence on academic, family, and emotional development (depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation). A possible interpretation of the higher frequency of cyberbullying through IM may be that young adults have a need to be connected.

This medium allows for being online in ‘real time’ with many peers or groups. With the possibility of remaining anonymous (by creating an avatar – a fake profile) and the possibility of exposing private information that remains recorded, students who use instant messaging become easy targets for cyberbullying. IM apps such as WhatsApp are extremely popular as they allow messages, photos, videos, and recordings to be shared and spread widely and in real time.

Students use the Internet as a medium and use it with great frequency in their everyday lives. As more aspects of students' lives and daily affairs are conducted online, coupled with the fact that excessive use may have consequences, it is important for researchers and academic policy makers to study the phenomenon of cyberbullying more deeply.

Sexual orientation is also a significant factor that increases the risk of victimization. Similarly, Rivers (2016) documented the rising incidence of homophobic and transphobic bullying at university and argues strongly for universities to be more active in promoting tolerance and inclusion on campus. It is worth noting that relationships and sexual orientation probably play a huge role in bullying among university students due to their age and the fact that the majority of students are away from home and experiencing different forms of relationships for the first time. Faucher et al. (2014) actually found that same sex cyberbullying was more common at university level than at school. Nonetheless, the research is just not there yet to make firm conclusions.

Finally, cyberbullying is not only an adolescent issue. Although its existence has been proven, studies of cyberbullying among undergraduate students have not been fully developed. This particular population needs special attention in future research.

The results of this study indicate that cyberbullying has an influence on the academic, social, and emotional development of undergraduate students.

In the academic field, findings revealed a statistically significant correlation between cyberbullying perpetrated by email and academic problems. Relationships between academic problems and cyberbullying perpetrated by other media were not found. This suggests that cyberbullying through instant messaging, chat room, text messaging, and social networking sites, have not influenced academic abilities, motivation to learn, and general satisfaction with the academic environment. However, cyberbullying perpetrated by email has an influence on academics, perhaps because of the high use of this medium among undergraduate students.

With regard to career problems, correlations with cyberbullying were not found. This indicates that cyberbullying has no influence on career problems, perhaps because these kinds of problems are related to future career inspirations, and not to the day-to-day aspects of a student's life.

In the social field, it was found that interpersonal problems such as integration into the social environment, forming a support network, and managing new social freedoms, were related to cyberbullying via social networking sites. This finding is consistent with the high use of social networking sites, the purpose of the medium, and the reported episodes of cyberbullying in that medium.

Family problems were also related to cyberbullying perpetrated by all kinds of media. This may indicate that as cyberbullying through the use of email, instant messaging, chat rooms, text messaging, and social networking sites increases, so do family problems. This could be due to the strong influence that cyberbullying generates in all the frameworks of students, including their families.

Finally, in the emotional field, correlations between cyberbullying perpetrated by all kinds of media and substance abuse were found. This may indicate that as cyberbullying through the use of email, instant messaging, chat rooms, text messaging, and social networking sites increases, so does substance abuse. This is important because cyberbullying may be another risk factor for increasing the probability of substance abuse.

Depression and suicidal ideation were significantly related to the same media – email instant messaging and chat cyberbullying – suggesting that depression may lead to a decision of suicide as a solution to the problem. Previous findings support the above that being an undergraduate student – a victim of cyberbullying emerges as an additional risk factor for the development of depressive symptoms ( Myers and Cowie, 2017 ). Also Selkie et al. (2015) reported among 265 female college students, being engaged in cyberbullying as bullies, victims, or both led to higher rates of depression and alcohol use.

Relationships between anxiety and cyberbullying, through all the media, were not found although Schenk and Fremouw (2012) found that college student victims of cyberbullying scored higher than matched controls on measures of depression, anxiety, phobic anxiety, and paranoia. This may be because it was demonstrated that anxiety is one of the most common reported mental health problems in all undergraduate students, cyberbullied or not.

Self-esteem problems were significantly related to cyberbullying via instant messaging, social networking sites, and text messaging. This may suggest that as cyberbullying through instant messaging, social networking sites, and text messaging increases, so do self-esteem problems. This is an important finding, given that these were the media with more reported episodes of cyberbullying.

5. Conclusions

This findings of this study revealed that cyberbullying exists in colleges and universities, and it has an influence on the academic, social, and emotional development of undergraduate students.

It was shown that cyberbullying is perpetrated through multiple electronic media such as email, instant messaging, chat rooms, text messaging, and social networking sites. Also, it was demonstrated that students exposed to cyberbullying experience academic problems, interpersonal problems, family problems, depression, substance abuse, suicidal ideation, and self-esteem problems.

Students have exhibited clear preferences towards using the Internet as a medium and utilize it with great frequency in their everyday lives. As more and more aspects of students' lives are conducted online, and with the knowledge that excessive use may have consequences for them, it is important to study the phenomenon of cyberbullying more deeply.

Because college students are preparing to enter the workforce, and several studies have indicated a trend of cyberbullying behavior and victimization throughout a person's lifetime ( Watts et al., 2017 ), the concern is these young adults are bringing these attitudes into the workplace.

Finally, cyberbullying is not only an adolescent issue. Given that studies of cyberbullying among undergraduate students are not fully developed, although existence of the phenomenon is proven, we conclude that the college and university population needs special attention in future areas of research. As it has been indicated by Peled et al. (2012) that firm policy in regard to academic cheating reduces its occurrence, colleges should draw clear guidelines to deal with the problem of cyberbullying, part of it should be a safe and if needed anonymous report system as well as clear punishing policy for perpetrators.

As there's very little research on the effect of cyberbullying on undergraduates students, especially in light of the availability of hand held devices (mainly smartphones) and the dependence on the internet for basically every and any activity, the additional data provided in this research adds to the understanding of the effect of cyberbullying on the welfare of undergraduate students.


Author contribution statement.

Yehuda Peled: Conceived and designed the experiments; Performed the experiments; Analyzed and interpreted the data; Contributed reagents, materials, analysis tools or data; Wrote the paper.

Funding statement

This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Competing interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Additional information

No additional information is available for this paper.


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