A Cyberbullying Assessment Among High School Students
Bullying awareness has become increasingly more important as school-aged children gain access to 21st century technology. Present day children belong to a “cyber-network” where perpetrators shield themselves through the anonymity of new communication styles .
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is the act of using electronic technology, such as cell phones and computers, to deliberately harass or threaten another individual or group (3, 6). A difference between traditional bullying and cyberbullying is that with traditional bullying, the bully needs a physical location in order to harass their victim (6). However, with the advent of the Internet and cell phones, cyberbullying can happen anywhere and at any time (6). In addition, with traditional bullying, the bully is most likely known to their victim, whereas with cyberbullying, the perpetrator can have anonymity, which can have more detrimental effects on the victim.
While many schools recognize the importance of reducing the occurrence of cyberbullying, few schools may be aware of the prevalence rates within their schools (4). Due to policies aimed at prohibiting the free use of cell phones and online chat rooms/emailing during school hours, many cyberbullying incidents occur outside school grounds. However, although this may be the case, the effects of cyberbullying can carry over into the school climate (5). While attempts at implementing intervention programs and policies to reduce cyberbullying have been created (2), it may be more important to first understand not only the prevalence of cyberbullying, but more specifically what type of cyberbullying behaviors the students are involved in.
To increase our understanding of cyberbullying behaviors, our research team from St. John’s University conducted a study to do the following:
- assess the prevalence rate of cyberbullying among high school students
- assess the type of cyberbullying behaviors among high school students
- study how the occurrence of cyberbullying relates to social-emotional functioning
- study how the occurrence of cyberbullying relates to academic performance.
Ninth and tenth graders (11 male, 17 female) from a parochial high school in the New York area were recruited for participation in our research. Twenty-eight students completed the questionnaires.
Students’ exposure to cyberbullying was assessed through a revised version of the Revised Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire (7). The revised measure assesses cyberbullying specifically, whereas the original questionnaire targets traditional bullying. Students were administered a demographic questionnaire where students also self-reported their current GPA. Additionally, students completed The Behavior Assessment System for Children—Second Edition (BASC-2)- Self Report (SRP)***. Specifically, our research team focused on measures relating to cyberbullying along with:
- Attitudes to School
- Attitudes to Teacher
- Interpersonal Relations
- Social Stress
- Sense of Inadequacy