• Cyberbullying and How It Impacts Schools

      Choucalas, Vida Zoe
      With all of its many benefits to humanity, one of the consequences of the Internet age is a far more pervasive and potentially damaging version of bullying called cyberbullying, which can also be referred to as ebullying, electronic bullying, cyberviolence, digital bullying, electronic harassment, and online harassment. Cyberbullying is being cruel to others by sending or posting harmful material or engaging in other forms of social cruelty using digital technologies. Because most children and young adults are computer literate and have access to a range of digital communication tools, cyberbullying has the potential to have more severe consequences than traditional bullying. This potential means that schools must find comprehensive approaches to combat the effects of cyberbullying, as it also undermines school climate and the safe and supportive environment that fosters student learning. The purpose of this research study was to gain a better understanding of the differing perceptions of cyberbullying based on the views of students, parents, educators, and school administrators. An Internet survey was used to gather information from groups of students, parents, and school staff of varying age groups, backgrounds, and locations. It was adapted from previously conducted surveys with several questions added for this specific project (Hinduja et al., 2009; Rogers, 2010; Trolley & Hanel, 2010; Willard, 2007b). The results of the study indicated that the perceptions of students, parents, educators, and administrators varied significantly in many issues. The most significant variations between subgroups occurred when looking at students’ willingness to talk to any adult when they or others are being cyberbullied. Another significant variation was seen between administrators and the other subgroups when looking at training of all stakeholders pertaining to cyberbullying and a school staff’s ability to identify and appropriately address cyberbullying. Results indicated that even school staff seemed to be in the dark about what, if any, policy or process their school district had in place to handle cyberbullying. As authority figures who are in the trenches with the students day after day, educators might have a better handle even than parents on students’ school personae, social hierarchies, and the ever-changing affiliations that bloom and wilt before their eyes in classrooms and hallways. This makes it imperative that they know what is in place to help them take care of their students and help keep the school environment safe.