Understanding perceptions of cyberbullying in the transition between primary and secondary school

Sutherland, Claire (2017) Understanding perceptions of cyberbullying in the transition between primary and secondary school. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Over the last decade, the nature of bullying has changed dramatically, moving from traditional, face to face to via communication technologies. The associated bullying behaviours and technologies is collectively known as ‘cyberbullying’. Cyberbullying is an increasing problem which results in negative outcomes for all involved. For victims, it is ubiquitous; there is no escape. Cyberbullying, has been directly and indirectly linked to an increased risk of suicide for both victims and bullies. It is therefore vital to explore what children, parents and teachers interpret as cyberbullying and how to design effective interventions to reduce cyberbullying and/or develop resilience and coping strategies.

To date, research on cyberbullying has focussed on children in their teens. However, little is known about the perceptions of younger children particularly at the key transitions point from primary to secondary school. At this age, self-esteem decreases and peer support and influence become very important in determining behaviour. Technology use increases around this age and parental monitoring decreases. This thesis uses multiple methods to fully explore similarities and differences in perceptions and experiences between children before (aged 10-11 years) and after (aged 12-15 years) this transition and develops a behaviour change intervention to promote more positive behaviour online, increase resilience and self-efficacy. This thesis aims to develop ways for children to overcome adversity by developing their problem-solving skills and increasing their confidence levels to deal with a negative situation through building their cyberbullying resilience. Cyberbullying resilience can be strengthened through external factors such as a supportive environment, strong peer support and a sense of belonging and internal factors including high self-esteem, self-control and self-efficacy (Bozak (2013) as cited in Hinduja and Patchin (2017)).

Initial findings suggested that cyberbullying is predominantly a female behaviour and that victims and bystanders are reluctant to seek adult intervention unless the situation is considered to be so extreme that they can no longer cope. Primary girls were found to be more likely to report a cyberbullying incident than secondary, even though there was no difference in their perception of the severity of the incident. This thesis adds to the literature by highlighting children, parents and teachers’ understandings and expectations around reporting and what these are. This thesis identifies age differences in relation to cyberbullying perceptions and reporting channels and presents a behaviour change intervention which increased self-efficacy and resilience levels. It is also applies a unique intervention approach by introducing implementation intentions with the intention to increase kind online behaviour in addition to building self-efficacy, self-esteem and cyberbullying resilience so that children have skills and strategies in place to deal with adversity online should the time come.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: C800 Psychology
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Psychology
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2018 13:48
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 22:39
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/36188

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