Cyberbullying and Help-Seeking in Adolescence: Exploring the Role of Student Gender, Cyberbullying Type, and Teacher Attitudes and Response

The emergence of cyberbullying is an unintended consequence of the explosion of social media and communication in the digital age.

The reach and capabilities of information technologies has created new forms of bullying behaviour which have proven to be even more deleterious for victim mental health than were traditional bullying. This research examined what factors influence the help-seeking intentions of adolescents in relation to cyberbullying, with the intention of informing interventions to facilitate the engagement of victims in support services, particularly within schools.

Analysis of the results of 875 anonymous surveys from adolescents aged between 11 and 16 years indicated that the type or mode of cyberbullying, experience as victim and/or perpetrator, and age were all associated with help-seeking intentions. Consistent with previous research on adolescent help-seeking, students reported a predilection toward seeking help from informal sources, such as family or friends, as opposed to formal sources, such as mental health professionals. However, teachers in this sample were identified as informal help sources, potentially enhancing their ability to intervene and effect change for both victims and perpetrators.

Further analysis of teacher characteristics associated with help provision is underway with the view to implementing research into effective school-based programs to ameliorate both the instance and effects of cyberbullying.

Further information on specific outcomes of research to date and the proposed intervention trial is available from Associate Professor Mitchell Byrne (mbyrne@uow.edu.au).

This update was kindly provided by Kayla Steele, Dr Mitchell Byrne and Sebastien Miellet (University of Wollongong). 

‘Cyberbullying and Help-Seeking in Adolescence: Exploring the Role of Student Gender, Cyberbullying Type, and Teacher Attitudes and Response’ was originally presented at the 2017 No More Harm National Conference.

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