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CYBER-BULLYING:

THE NEW KID ON THE BLOCK

A Thesis

Presented to the faculty of the Department of Teacher Education

California State University, Sacramento

Submitted in partial satisfaction of


the requirements for the degree of

MASTER OF ARTS

in

EDUCATION

(Behavioral Sciences Gender Equity Studies)

by

Kelley L. M. Anderson

SUMMER
2012
CYBER-BULLYING:

THE NEW KID ON THE BLOCK

A Thesis

by

Kelley L. M. Anderson

Approved by:

________________________________________, Committee Chair


Sherrie Carinci, Ed.D.

________________________________________, Second Reader


Angela Shaw, Ed.D.

Date

ii
Student: Kelley L. M. Anderson

I certify that this student has met the requirements for format contained in the

University format manual, and that this thesis is suitable for shelving in the Library

and credit is to be awarded for the thesis.

___________________________________, Department Chair _______________


Rita M. Johnson, Ed.D. Date

Department of Teacher Education

iii
Abstract

of

CYBER-BULLYING:

THE NEW KID ON THE BLOCK

by

Kelley L. M. Anderson

Statement of Problem
Cyber-bullying has become rampant among our adolescent population. Garrett

(2003) reports, Bullying generally begins in the elementary grades, peaks in the sixth

through the eighth grades, and persists into high school (p. 11). So although bullying

is a problem at virtually every level of schooling in this country, it is particularly

pervasive during the middle school years. Building and maintaining positive social

relationships is of paramount importance to students in this age range. Students

relationships and conflicts with their peers can often have as much impact on their

academic performance and level of success as what and how they are taught by their

teachers (Simmons, 2002). In addition to problems with their academic performance,

adolescents who are bullied are also sometimes deeply and negatively affected in

terms of their healthy social and psychological development (Breguet, 2007).

iv
One of the devastating effects of becoming a victim of adolescent cyber-

bullying is extreme isolation, so when these victims begin to feel hopeless and even

suicidal about their situations, they often do not reach out for help from their parents,

friends, or teachers. Students, who feel completely alone, like no one else has ever

experienced what they are going through, might be pushed to act on their suicidal

feelings. Thus the most damaging psychological effect of bullying that can occur is

adolescent suicide (Breguet, 2007). There have been several newsworthy incidents

over the last few years in which young teenagers have committed suicide as a result of

being bullied and harassed online.

Sources of Data

The data analyzed in this study was collected in several sixth, seventh, and

eighth grade classrooms in two northern California middle schools. Two different

sources of data were collected and examined. The first source was survey questions

regarding the frequency and intensity of middle school students bullying observations

and experiences indicated on a Likert Scale and using a yes or no format. The second

source was open-ended survey questions that gave the respondents the opportunity to

express themselves in their own words, providing narratives primarily concerned with

the students perceived intent of bullies and typical characteristics of victims of

bullying. Both types of survey questions included more specific queries regarding the

particulars of cyber-bullying and gender issues in bullying. The methodology

employed in this study involved both quantitative and qualitative research designs.
v
Quantitative data was analyzed using a Chi-square and simple comparisons of

percentages while qualitative data was analyzed utilizing a thematic approach.

Conclusions Reached

Traditional schoolyard bullying and cyber-bullying are both major problems in

the middle school population. There are many negative repercussions of bullying in

the lives of the students who are targeted, including emotional trauma, physical danger

(including suicide), interference in healthy social relationships, and academic

performance problems. There are several gender differences in bullying, both in terms

of how boys bully versus how girls bully and how school authorities deal with the

bullying problems among each gender, but there are similarities as well. Boy bullying,

for example, has always been more physical than girl bullying. And while it is true

that girls still bully primarily using relational aggression, girls have also started to

bully more and more using physical tactics. The bullying prevention and intervention

strategies currently in place are largely ineffective. As an anti-bullying strategy,

schools should look to incorporate character education into their curricula.

________________________________________, Committee Chair


Sherrie Carinci, Ed.D.

Date

vi
DEDICATION

This thesis is dedicated to my maternal grandmother, Elna Bliske, who

deserves special recognition for being instrumental in the creation and nurturance

throughout my life of a persistent determination to earn a higher education. She

worked in the education field herself as an elementary school secretary for over twenty

years and later held various other positions as school support staff. My grandmother

probably doesnt realize just how influential on me her reverence for academics was,

not only on my ceaseless drive to attain a higher education, but also on my decision to

focus my work on becoming an educator myself. This is but a tiny portion of all the

things Ill be forever grateful to my grandmother for: her love and encouragement,

oranges on our rides to school, and an enduring belief in the extraordinary value of

education. (We did it, Grandma!)

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

There are so many people I would like to acknowledge and thank from the

bottom of my heart for their unconditional support and encouragement throughout the

long and arduous thesis writing process, but none more than my beloved family. My

husband, Robbie, and our sons, Jack and Ben, were unyielding in their love, patience,

and understanding while I toiled to complete my thesis while also maintaining a full-

time teaching job and trying as hard as I could to be the best wife and mother that I

could be. I completely acknowledge how difficult this process sometimes was for all

of us, and Im so grateful that they never lost faith not only in my ability to finish my

thesis, but also to make it as exemplary as I could. It is impossible to express how

much I truly love and appreciate my three boys. Thank you so much for everything,

Robbie, Jack and Ben.

I would also like to acknowledge and thank my dad, Jim, my mom, Janice, my

sister, Molly, my brother, Ryan, and my niece, Jolie, for always shoring me up when I

wasnt sure if or when I would be able to complete my masters degree once and for

all. I would like to thank my parents in particular for instilling in me from a very

young age an abiding love of reading, a strong motivation to strive for excellence in

my academic pursuits, and a spirit of curiosity, openness, and adventure in everything

I do. Thanks, Mom and Dad. I love you both very much.

In addition to my family, I would like to express my utmost gratitude to Dr.

Sherrie Carinci of the Gender Equity masters program at Sac State my professor,
viii
thesis advisor, mentor, friend, and inspiration to all women who aspire to achieve a

higher education. Dr. Carinci was unwavering in her support, encouragement, and

especially her refusal to allow me to lose confidence in myself and my abilities, even

with more than one unforeseen delay in the completion of my thesis due to my work

and family commitments. Thank you very much, Dr. Carinci. (Okay, I guess now that

Ive finally finished my thesis and the masters program, Ill let myself agree to call

you Sherrie!)

Finally, I would like to acknowledge all the other people who were either

directly or indirectly involved in helping me complete my research study, thesis, and

subsequent masters degree. Thank you to all my instructors and professors, whose

courses were engaging, informative, and thought provoking. Thank you to the

principals and teachers (especially Doris Sterling and Elaina Zarka, my colleagues in

the Education masters program) who graciously allowed me access to their

classrooms and students in order to conduct my study. And last but certainly not least,

a particular thank you to the middle school students who agreed to take part in the

research study. This thesis simply could not exist without their participation. They

poured their hearts out on the survey and their thoughtful insights were invaluable to

the study, and for that I am truly grateful. Thank you, students!

ix
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page
Dedication................................................................................................................... vii
Acknowledgements ................................................................................................... viii
List of Tables ............................................................................................................. xiii
Chapter
1. INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................. 1
Purpose/Significance of the Study.................................................................... 1
Statement of the Problem ................................................................................. 2
Methodology..................................................................................................... 3
Limitations of the Study ................................................................................... 5
Theoretical Basis for the Study ........................................................................ 6
Definition of Terms ........................................................................................ 10
Organization of the Thesis.............................................................................. 15
Background of the Researcher ........................................................................ 16
2. REVIEW OF THE RELEVANT LITERATURE ................................................ 18
Introduction .................................................................................................... 18
Bullying Behavior or Normal Peer Conflict ................................................... 19
Effects of Bullying ......................................................................................... 20
Traditional Schoolyard Bullying .................................................................... 25
Harassment Among Adults............................................................................. 26
Characteristic Traits of Bullies ....................................................................... 28
Cyber-Bullying ............................................................................................... 30
Bullying and Gender....................................................................................... 33
Bullying and Homophobia ............................................................................. 38
Prevention / Intervention ................................................................................ 40
Conclusion ...................................................................................................... 44

x
3. METHODOLOGY ............................................................................................... 45
Introduction .................................................................................................... 45
Primary Research Question ............................................................................ 45
Secondary Questions ...................................................................................... 46
Research Study Design ................................................................................... 47
Research Instruments...................................................................................... 48
Data Collection ............................................................................................... 49
Participants ..................................................................................................... 50
Setting ............................................................................................................. 53
Analysis Procedures ....................................................................................... 53
4. FINDINGS ........................................................................................................... 55
Introduction .................................................................................................... 55
Participants ..................................................................................................... 56
Quantitative Data ............................................................................................ 57
Quantitative Data: Gender Differences in Bullying ....................................... 66
Qualitative Data .............................................................................................. 68
Qualitative Data: Gender Differences in Bullying ......................................... 84
Conclusion ...................................................................................................... 96
5. DISCUSSION, LIMITATIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS,
CONCLUSION .............................................................................................. 99
Discussion....................................................................................................... 99
Limitations .................................................................................................... 115
Recommendations ........................................................................................ 117
Conclusion .................................................................................................... 119
Appendix A. Cyber-Bullying Survey ..................................................................... 120
Appendix B. Principal Permission Letter ............................................................... 124
Appendix C. Informed Consent Form (Parent) ...................................................... 126

xi
Appendix D. Informed Consent Form (Student) .................................................... 128
References ................................................................................................................ 130

xii
LIST OF TABLES
Tables Page
1. Participants by School, Grade Level, and Gender .......................................... 51
2. Participants by Age and Gender ..................................................................... 52
3. Participants by Ethnicity and Gender ............................................................. 52
4. Survey Question #1 Have You Ever Been the Victim or Target
of a Bully? ...................................................................................................... 58
5. Survey Question #2 If YES, How Often Are You Bullied? ......................... 59
6. Survey Question #3 Have You Ever Been Bullied on the Internet or
on Your Cell Phone? ...................................................................................... 59
7. Survey Question #4 If YES, How Often?..................................................... 60
8. Survey Question #7 Have You Ever Engaged in Bullying Other
Children? ........................................................................................................ 60
9. Survey Question #8 If YES, How Often do You Bully Other Children? ..... 61
10. Survey Question #9 Have You Ever Bullied Anyone on the Internet
or Using Your Cell Phone?............................................................................. 61
11. Survey Question #10 If YES, How Often?................................................... 62
12. Survey Question #12 Do You Think People Would Still be as Likely
to Bully Other People on the Internet if it Wasnt so Anonymous? ............... 62
13. Survey Question #21 Do Your Parents Monitor Your Internet Activity
and Cell Phone Use? ....................................................................................... 63
14. Survey Question #22 If YES, How Often?................................................... 63
15. Survey Question #23 Would You Like Your Parents to be More Involved
With Your Use of Technology? ..................................................................... 64
16. Survey Question #18 Does Your School Have a Bullying Problem? ......... 65
17. Survey Question #19 Do You Think the Teachers and Administrators
at Your School do a Good Job Dealing With Bullying Problems? ................ 65

xiii
18. Survey Question #24 Do You See Bullying as Just a Normal Part
of School That You Have to Deal With? ........................................................ 66
19. Survey Question #14 Do You Think Boys Bully Others Differently
Than Girls Bully? ........................................................................................... 67
20. Survey Question #17 How Likely is it That Boys Bully Girls or Girls
Bully Boys? .................................................................................................... 67

xiv
1

Chapter 1

INTRODUCTION

Traditional schoolyard bullying has existed almost as long as children have

been present in schoolyards. With the advent of advanced computer technology (and

other forms of technology as well) and the level at which todays youth population has

embraced it, bullying has taken on a dangerous new form. This thesis addresses the

reasons adolescent cyber-bullying has become so rampant and so dangerous, explores

specific methods of cyber-bullying, and suggests alternative intervention strategies to

what is typically (and ineffectively) done to contend with cyber-bullying among the

middle school population. According to Swearer and Delucia-Waack (2010), No U.S.

program has been shown to significantly reduce the slings and arrows of the

schoolyard. In fact, according to a 2008 report, the average teacher reported more

bullying after intervention than before (p. 12). In order to better protect our children,

and to create and maintain a safe, positive, and nurturing school environment, it is

vital that parents, teachers, and school administrators address cyber-bullying (and

traditional schoolyard bullying) as a very serious problem and develop a blueprint to

effectively combat the negative ramifications on our children.

Purpose/Significance of the Study

The purpose of this research study is to determine middle school students

patterns of thought and behavior related to adolescent cyber-bullying in order to better

understand why so many middle school students become cyber-bullies or end up the

victims of cyber-bullies. If the how and why of cyber-bullying among adolescents


2

are more readily known and understood, then hopefully educators, parents, and the

middle school students themselves will be better prepared and equipped to prevent

cyber-bullying and deal with it effectively and with minimal damage when it does

occur.

The significance of uncovering and analyzing these insights about cyber-

bullying simply cannot be overstated. The toxic mix of normal adolescent conflict,

heightened technological and sexual sophistication among todays youth population,

and the largely anonymous nature of the Internet has created a new and dangerous

level of bullying -- cyber-bullying. It is the moral and professional obligation of

educators to seek answers about and take action against cyber-bullying.

Statement of the Problem

Cyber-bullying has become rampant among our adolescent population. Garrett

(2003) reports, Bullying generally begins in the elementary grades, peaks in the sixth

through the eighth grades, and persists into high school (p. 11). So although bullying

is a problem at virtually every level of schooling in this country, it is particularly

pervasive during the middle school years. Building and maintaining positive social

relationships is of paramount importance to students in this age range. Students

relationships and conflicts with their peers can often have as much impact on their

academic performance and level of success as what and how they are taught by their

teachers (Simmons, 2002). In addition to problems with their academic performance,

adolescents who are bullied are also sometimes deeply and negatively affected in

terms of their healthy social and psychological development (Breguet, 2007).


3

One of the devastating effects of becoming a victim of adolescent cyber-

bullying is extreme isolation, so when these victims begin to feel hopeless and even

suicidal about their situations, they often do not reach out for help from their parents,

friends, or teachers. Students who feel completely alone, like no one else has ever

experienced what they are going through, might be pushed to act on their suicidal

feelings. Thus the most damaging psychological effect of bullying that can occur is

adolescent suicide (Breguet, 2007). There have been several newsworthy incidents

over the last few years in which young teenagers have committed suicide as a result of

being bullied and harassed online.

Another aspect of the problem of adolescent cyber-bullying is that although a

relatively significant amount of research relevant to bullying among adolescents has

already been completed by educational researchers, there is still much more work to

be done and literature to be developed regarding the specific problem of cyber-

bullying among our school-age population. Cyber-bullyings particular salient features

(and the fact that it is still an emerging field of study) potentially make it even more

dangerous than traditional bullying (Willard, 2007). Also, some studies have shown

that the bullying prevention and intervention strategies already developed and in the

literature are not only ineffective, but can actually exacerbate the problem (Furniss,

2000; Swearer & Delucia-Waack, 2010).

Methodology

This study examined and analyzed middle school students patterns of thought

and behavior related to adolescent cyber-bullying in order to better understand why so


4

many middle school students become cyber-bullies or end up the victims of cyber-

bullies. According to Creswell (2002), survey designs are frequently used

toidentify characteristics of a group,understand important beliefs and

attitudes,[and] identify practices (p. 395). Creswell (2002) also points out that a

cross-sectional survey design is one in which a researcher collects data at one point in

time. Advantages of the cross-sectional survey design include measuring current

attitudes or practices (because when students complete a survey, they are recording

data about their present views) and providing information in a short amount of time

(Creswell, 2002).

Accordingly, this research study employed the use of a cross-sectional survey

using straightforward questions that allowed the students to share their insights both

quantitatively and qualitatively. On the survey (see Appendix A), the students were

asked to use a Likert Scale to rate the frequency of their observation of certain

bullying behaviors and to answer yes or no questions regarding general bullying

behavior, specific cyber-bullying behaviors, gender differences in bullying, as well as

school and parental involvement in their activities related to technology (quantitative

data). The survey also gave the students the opportunity to answer open-ended

questions, providing narratives primarily regarding the students perceived intent of

bullies and typical characteristics of victims of bullying (qualitative data).

In two separate sixth grade classrooms in a northern California elementary

school and in two seventh and two eighth grade Language Arts classes in a northern

California middle school, students received parent permission forms (see Appendix B)
5

to take home for their parent(s) to review. The students parents were asked to sign

and return the permission forms only if they wished to opt-out of their children taking

part in the survey. Once back in class, students were asked to sign their own informed

consent forms documenting their voluntary participation in the survey (see Appendix

C). The survey respondents were asked to identify on their surveys their gender,

ethnicity, age, grade, and school in order to categorize their responses by gender,

racial/ethnic and socio-economic factors, maturity level, and physical geography. The

survey was administered, and then the students were given a short presentation on

bullying and cyber-bullying. The students were given the cyber-bullying presentation

after the survey in order to provide them with facts and prevention/intervention

strategies related to bullying, but without skewing the results of the survey.

Limitations of the Study

One limitation of this study is that bullying is an issue that can be very

emotional for adolescents to experience or even have to think about. Students who

have bullied other students might not be readily willing to even admit it, let alone

answer detailed questions about it. Students who have been the victims of bullies may

feel intimidated to document their experiences, for fear of appearing weak or

unpopular or having to experience the emotions again (Breguet, 2007).

Another limitation to this study is that because cyber-bullying is still a

relatively new phenomenon, many students may not know or fully understand what

cyber-bullying is. It might be difficult for students to comprehend and respond

accurately to the survey questions if they do not grasp the true meaning of cyber-
6

bullying. One solution to the problem of the students lack of knowledge and

understanding, perhaps, would be to give the cyber-bullying presentation before the

survey is administered instead of after the survey, but then that could potentially sway

the students perceptions, skewing the results of the survey.

An additional limitation to this cyber-bullying study is the lack of free access

to middle schools for graduate students conducting their research studies. Many

teachers and principals alike are hesitant to include anything in the school day that

does not strictly adhere to the content standards required by the state of California.

Rather than seeing research studies as an opportunity to gain valuable insights about

students social lives and how they affect their academic and emotional lives, many

educators seem to view research study surveys as an interruption of the established

curriculum, which has a heavy emphasis on standards and normative testing and

leaves little room for anything else.

A final limitation to this study on cyber-bullying is the fact that not every

student in the United States (or even California) can take the survey to provide his or

her insights on cyber-bullying. The sample population is therefore limited for the

study, rendering the study findings appropriate to be generalized to the region of

northern California only.

Theoretical Basis for the Study

In The Schoolhome: Rethinking Schools for Changing Families, Jane Roland

Martin (1995) outlined her theory that schools can and should acknowledge and

incorporate the reproductive processes of society (the private sphere) into their
7

classrooms, as well as the traditional focus on the productive processes of society (the

public sphere). In other words, because of the greatly changed and still fluctuating

state of so many American homes, it is now more than ever the public education

systems moral obligation to step in and help fill the void of the domestic vacuum in

the lives of so many children. To put it even more simply, schools have a

responsibility to provide an environment that is more like an ideal home. The setting

should be safe, warm, nurturing, supportive, and encouraging. The students should

feel cared for, and even loved. With many American homes now headed by a single

parent, and many others occupied by two parents who both have to work full-time,

schools need to make up for the physical absence of parents from the household.

Martins (1995) theory is relevant to this research study and thesis on cyber-

bullying in that schools must now play a larger role than ever in the protection of

students from being bullied, especially since cyber-bullying in particular has taken

bullying off school campuses and brought it into the home. If it is now the public

school systems job to fill the domestic vacuum for students who live in homes

lacking their parents presence, as Martin (1995) contends, then schools need to

concern themselves with bullying, even when it occurs off-campus and after school

hours.

Similar to Jane Roland Martins ideas about the ideal school as a nurturing,

protective, homelike environment, Nel Noddings theory of caring in education posits

that traditional schoolings unwavering focus on academics is misplaced. In The

Challenge to Care in Schools: An Alternative Approach to Education (2nd ed.),


8

Noddings (2005) in fact states that we have to set aside the deadly notion that the

schools first priority should be intellectual development (p. 12). Noddings also

asserts that an even more important goal for public education should be to produce

better people (p. 12).

Noddings (2005) theory encompasses six primary themes of care: caring for

self, caring in the inner circle, caring for strangers and distant others, caring for

animals, plants, and the earth, caring for the human-made world, and caring for ideas.

The two themes of care that relate most significantly to this research and thesis are

caring in the inner circle, which includes mates and lovers, friends, colleagues and

neighbors, and children/students, and caring for strangers and distant others. If

Noddings assertion that our schools main ambition should be to produce good

citizens instead of just students who are good at math and history is correct (and this

researcher believes it is), then certainly teachers and administrators are obligated to

teach students that bullying is wrong and to implement effective prevention and

intervention strategies.

In Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, Rachel

Simmons (2002) explanation and discussion of relational aggression primarily among

pre-adolescent and adolescent girls was vital to this thesis in terms of providing a clear

and concise understanding of how schoolgirls often relate to one another in a negative

context. Simmons (2002) idea to give every girl, every parent, and every teacher a

shared, public language to address girls conflicts and relationships not only to

empower girls to negotiate conflict, but to define relationship in new and healthier
9

ways informed the theoretical framework of the Prevention/Intervention section of

this thesis (p. 231). Simmons underscored the importance of providing students with

alternative strategies in order to effectively combat bullying before and/or after it

occurs.

Social Learning Theory (SLT), which is now sometimes known as Social

Cognitive Theory (SCT), also provided a theoretical foundation for this cyber-bullying

research study and subsequent thesis. Social Learning Theory, a major outgrowth of

the behavioral learning theory tradition, was developed primarily by Albert Bandura in

the 1970s (Slavin, 2003). Banduras theory focuses on the effects of cues on behavior

and on internal cognitive processes, emphasizing the ways in which thought and action

influence one another (Slavin, 2003). Bandura highlighted in particular the importance

of modeling and observational learning on the learning process, pointing out that the

imitation of others behavior shapes much of human learning (Slavin, 2003).

Social Learning Theory is relevant to this research on cyber-bullying in that it

helps to explain the cyclical nature of bullying. When adolescents repeatedly observe

other students modeling bullying behavior, they in turn are more likely to imitate that

behavior and exhibit bullying traits themselves. It just ends up in a vicious cycle of

bullying that is almost impossible to prevent because so many students are

participating in the bullying and they are all reinforcing each others behavior through

modeling. Conversely though, if adolescents consistently witness their fellow students

treating each other with respect and kindness, they will imitate those behaviors

instead. Social Learning Theory is a legitimate platform on which to place the


10

rationale for implementing character education into the standard curriculum as a

bullying prevention strategy.

Definition of Terms

Adolescence is defined by Merriam-Websters Collegiate Dictionary (10th ed.,

(2001) as the state or process of growing up (p. 16).

Bash board is defined by Teri Breguet (2007) as [a]n online bulletin board on

which individuals can post anything they want. Generally, posts are malicious and

hateful statements directed against another person (p. 54).

Block is defined by Breguet (2007) as deny[ing] access. If a person is blocked

from joining a chat, he or she usually receives a message that says access has been

denied (p. 54).

Bullying is defined by Anne G. Garrett (2003) as unwanted words or physical

actions that can make a person feel bad (p. 5).

Chat room is defined by Breguet (2007) as

[a] virtual room where groups of people send and receive messages on-screen.

Popular chat rooms can have hundreds of people participating at the same time.

A persons messages appear instantly as part of a real-time conversation. All of

the people participating in a chat are listed by their nicknames or screen names

somewhere on the screen. (p. 54)

A Chi-square is defined by W. Paul Jones and Jeffrey A. Kottler (2006) as

an inferential statistic that can be used when the data are in a form that doesnt

allow averaging, such as frequency counts in various categories (p. 120).


11

A Cross-Sectional Survey Design is one in which the researcher collects

data at one point in time in order to measur[e] current attitudes or practices

(Creswell, 2002, p. 398).

Cyber-Bullying is defined by Hinduja and Patchin (2009) as willful and

repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic

devices (p. 5).

Cyberstalking is defined by Nancy E. Willard (2007) as repeated sending of

harmful messages that include threats of harm, are highly intimidating or extremely

offensive, or involve extortion (p. 10).

Cyberthreats are defined by Breguet (2007) as [o]nline material that raises

concerns that the creator may intend to inflict harm or violence to himself or herself or

someone else (p. 55).

Denigration is defined by Willard (2007) as a harmful, untrue, or

cruelspeech about a target [that] may be posted online or sent to others (p. 7).

Direct bullying is defined by Dan Olweus (1993) as relatively open attacks on

a victim (p. 10).

Direct threats (a classification of cyberthreats) are defined by Willard (2007)

as statements of intent to hurt someone or commit suicide. Direct threats generally

contain information about an actual planned event (p. 11).

Distressing material (a classification of cyberthreats) is defined by Willard

(2007) as online material that provides clues that the person is emotionally upset and

may be considering hurting someone, self-harm, or suicide (p. 11).


12

Emo is defined by Merriam-Webster Online as a style of rock music

influenced by punk rock and featuring introspective and emotionally fraught lyrics

(http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emo).

Exclusion is defined by Breguet (2007) as [t]he barring of someone from an

online group, like a buddy list (p. 55).

Flaming is defined by Willard (2007) as heated online verbal exchanges that

generally include offensive, rude, and vulgar language, insults, and sometimes

threats (p. 5).

Happy slapping is defined by Breguet (2007) as [a]n extreme form of

bullying in which physical assaults are recorded on mobile phones and distributed to

others (p. 55).

Harassment is defined by Willard (2007) as the repeated, ongoing sending of

offensive messages to an individual target (p. 6).

Impersonation is defined by Willard (2007) as a form of cyber-bullying where

a cyberbully gain[s] access to the targets account on a system and pose[s] as the

target to post material that reflects badly on the target or interferes with the targets

friendships (p. 8).

Indirect bullying is defined by Olweus (1993) as a passive form of bullying

that can include social isolation and intentional exclusion from a group (p. 10).

An Informed Consent Form is defined by John W. Creswell (2002) as a

statement that participants sign before they participate in research. This form includes
13

language that will guarantee them certain rights. When they sign the form, they agree

to be involved in the study and acknowledge that their rights are protected (p. 645).

Instant messaging (IM) is defined by Breguet (2007) as [t]he act of

communicating in real time between two or more people over a network such as the

Internet (p. 55).

A Likert Scale is defined by Earl Babbie (1998) as a [survey] format in which

respondents are asked to strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree, or

perhaps strongly approve, approve, and so forth (p. 148).

A Longitudinal Survey Design involves the survey procedure of collecting

data about trends with the same population, changes in a cohort group or

subpopulation, or changes in a panel group of the same individuals over time

(Creswell, 2002, p. 399).

Modeling is defined by Robert E. Slavin (2003) as the [i]mitation of others

behavior (p. 159).

Narrative Data is defined by Jones and Kottler (2006) as verbal or written data

that can come from a variety of research sources, such as interview transcripts,

observation field notes, diary entries, official institution records, and open-ended

survey questions.

Normal Peer Conflict is defined by Garrett (2003) as two students of equal

status and power getting into a temporary and readily solvable argument or fight

(p. 9).
14

Observational Learning is defined by Slavin (2003) as [l]earning by

observation and imitation of others (p. 159).

Outing is defined by Willard (2007) as publicly posting, sending, or

forwarding personal communications or images, especially communications or images

that contain intimate personal information or are potentially embarrassing (p. 9).

Qualitative Data is defined by Jones and Kottler (2006) as verbal descriptions

of the characteristics being investigated (p. 11).

Quantitative Data is defined by Babbie (1998) as explicit numerical data.

Relational Aggression is defined by Rachel Simmons (2002) as any act in

which relationship is used as a weapon, including manipulation. It harms others

through damage (or the threat of damage) to relationships or feelings of acceptance,

friendships, or group inclusion (p. 43).

Sexual harassment is defined by Sherrie Carinci (2009) as unsolicited and

unwelcome sexual overtures, whether they are written, verbal, physical, and/or visual

(p. 221).

Social networking Web site is defined by Breguet (2007) as an [o]nline

service that brings people together by organizing them around a common interest and

by providing them with an interactive environment of photos, Web logs, user profiles,

and messaging systems. Examples include Facebook and MySpace (p. 56).

Survey Research Designs are defined by Creswell (2002) as procedures in

quantitative research in which investigators administer a survey to a sample or to the


15

entire population of people in order to describe the attitudes, opinions, behaviors, or

characteristics of the population (p. 396).

Trickery (which can occur as part of outing) is defined by Willard (2007) as a

cyber-bully fooling [a]n innocent targetinto thinking that a communication or

sending of images is private, when the cyberbully intends to trick the target into

communicating or disclosing something embarrassing that will then be disseminated

to others or used as a threat (p. 9).

Trolling is defined by Breguet (2007) as [d]eliberately posting information to

entice well-intentioned people to respond and contribute to a cruel discussion (p. 56).

Organization of the Thesis

The remainder of the study consists of four chapters that shed light on the

thoughts, feelings, opinions, and behaviors of middle school students, related

primarily to cyber-bullying. Chapter 2 reviewed the relevant literature on issues of

bullying and cyber-bullying. Specific areas of focus include the difference between

bullying and normal peer conflict, the varied negative effects of bullying on students,

factual aspects of traditional schoolyard bullying (what it is and where and when it

typically takes place), adolescent bullying behavior leading into adult harassment,

characteristic attributes of bullies, current research on the particulars of cyber-

bullying, gender differences in bullying, aspects of homophobia prevalent in bullying

behavior, as well as prevention and intervention strategies. Chapter 3 explained the

research methods and study procedures used in the implementation of the survey, as

well as acknowledged the limitations of the study. Chapter 4 presented the results of
16

the survey as raw data and an analysis of the data collected. Chapter 5 provided a

discussion of the data, gave recommendations for the prevention and intervention of

cyber-bullying among middle school students, and concluded the study.

Background of the Researcher

Kelley L. M. Anderson earned her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies (with a

concentration in Child Development) from California State University, Chico in 2003.

She later completed the Teacher Preparation Program at California State University,

Sacramento in 2007, earning a Single-Subject Teaching Credential in English, with

Supplementary Authorizations in Introductory Social Science and Psychology. After

choosing to stay home for several years to care for her two young sons, she entered the

Master of Arts in Education program, with an emphasis in Gender Equity Studies, at

Sacramento State University in 2009. Unsure of what to focus her studies on early in

the program, Ms. Anderson soon decided to pursue a course of research in bullying

behavior after she became quite disturbed by multiple news reports of adolescents

committing suicide as a result of being bullied. Ms. Anderson chose to narrow the

focus of her research to cyber-bullying in particular because it is still an emerging

field of study lacking in extensive literature.

This issue is personally relevant and important to Ms. Anderson because she

experienced being bullied in the later years of her elementary school education

(although not nearly to the degree that some students are harassed) and she knows how

traumatic and all-consuming it can feel during the tender and fragile years of early

adolescence. It is her position that girls usually suffer more damaging and long-term
17

effects from being bullied than boys, primarily due to the fact that educators are

unable or unwilling to consider it as serious a problem as boy bullying. As an educator

(Ms. Anderson is currently a high school English teacher in the greater Sacramento

area), she definitely feels a significant responsibility to understand how devastating

girl (and boy) bullying can be to its victims and learn appropriate and effective

intervention strategies in order to better protect her own students and students

everywhere.
18

Chapter 2

REVIEW OF THE RELEVANT LITERATURE

Introduction

Traditional schoolyard bullying is an age-old problem among elementary

school children and adolescents. As long as young people have built social

relationships with each other through attending school together, they have engaged in

some amount of verbal teasing, emotional manipulation, and physical aggression

toward one another (Aluede, Adeleke, Omoike, & Afen-Akpaida, 2008). According to

Doherty (1988), bullying in American schools has been acknowledged as an existing

phenomenon since at least the middle of the 20th century, when the term teenager

was coined and it entered the national lexicon. This developmental period of

adolescence was seen for the first time in American society as a distinct time between

childhood and adulthood, with its own unique set of universal experiences, problems,

and challenges to deal with. It was still decades, however, before the phenomenon of

schoolyard bullying became a subject of formal study.

Norwegian researcher Dan Olweus published the first study on bullying,

Aggression in the Schools: Bullies and Whipping Boys, in 1978 (Meyer, 2009). More

recently, bullying has been the focus of research and debate since the early 1980s

(Furniss, 2000, p. 9). The relevant literature on bullying includes the difference

between bullying and normal peer conflict, the varied negative effects of bullying on

students, factual aspects of traditional schoolyard bullying (what it is, where and when

it typically takes place, the prevalence of bullying incidents, and who is most often
19

affected), adolescent bullying behavior leading into adult harassment, characteristic

attributes of bullies, the unique characteristics of cyber-bullying, gender differences in

bullying, aspects of homophobia prevalent in bullying behavior, and prevention and

intervention strategies for teachers and administrators, parents, and students

themselves.

Bullying Behavior or Normal Peer Conflict?

In order to better protect our children, and create and maintain the safe,

positive, and nurturing school environment that educators are responsible for

providing, it is vital that parents, teachers, and school administrators address cyber-

bullying (and traditional schoolyard bullying) as the serious problem that it is.

Historically, bullying was not viewed as a problem that warranted attention or

concern, but was rather generally accepted as a normal part of childhood development

(Shariff, 2008). It is important to note, however, that there is a significant difference

between normal peer conflict and destructive bullying behaviors. According to Garrett

(2003), normal peer conflict is characterized by two students of equal status and

power getting into a temporary and readily solvable argument or fight (p. 9). No

long-term emotional or psychological damage is done, and the students involved can

indeed learn valuable lessons about conflict resolution from the incident.

Bullying, on the other hand, is more associated with an imbalance of power

between the bully and his or her victim(s), repeated bullying incidents, and intent on

the part of the bully to intimidate and control other students (Garrett, 2003). In other

words, bullying is not something students should be subjected to in order to build


20

character. Sheras (2002) states, Far from toughening a child up, bullying much more

often leads to academic failure, depression, physical damage and even, in some cases,

extreme violence against oneself or others (p. 21). A recent and well-known example

of how cyber-bullying can seriously impact the lives of the victims of this type of

harassment is the sad case of Megan Meier. A 13-year-old Catholic school student

from Missouri, Megan Meier committed suicide in October of 2006 after the mother

of one of her former friends created a phony online identity in order to harass and

humiliate her (Stelter, 2008). The problem of bullying is much more severe than

normal peer conflict and no child should have to endure it.

Effects of Bullying

Some researchers and practitioners believe that the impact of bullying is as

devastating and life changing as that of other forms of trauma, such as physical abuse

(San Antonio & Salzfass, 2007, p. 32). The term bullying can be somewhat difficult to

define, mostly because it can take many different forms and can be meted out with

varying levels of intensity, and it can produce drastically different results in individual

students. For generations, many parents and educators have bought into the myth that

bullying is no big deal, that it builds character, that it is just a normal part of growing

up. Proponents of this school of thought believe that victims of bullying should just

toughen up and get over it, that it will actually be good for character development in

the long run (Sheras, 2002). The short- and long-term effects of being bullied,

however, can be vastly distinct for particular students, ranging from quickly getting

over it and moving on (Rigby, 2004) to harboring serious doubts about self-worth and
21

severe disturbances in personal relationships many years later. Research has also

shown that being bullied during middle school is predictive of low self-esteem ten

years later (Garrett, 2003, p. 13). Kaltiala-Heino, Rimpelae, Rantanen, & Rimpelae

(2000) report that the negative aftereffects of childhood bullying experiences may

linger long into the victims' adulthood. In addition, the recent research of Gladstone,

Parker, & Malhi (2006) documented increased levels of depression and anxiety in

adults who had been bullied in their youth. Bullying is not just a normal part of

growing up or good for building character. It can cause serious damage to children and

adults.

The most damaging psychological effect of bullying that can occur is an

adolescent becoming suicidal (Breguet, 2007). In addition to the previously described

case of Megan Meier, there have been several other newsworthy incidents over the last

few years in which young teenagers have committed suicide as a result of being

bullied at school and harassed online. One of the devastating effects of becoming a

victim of adolescent cyber-bullying is extreme isolation, so when these victims begin

to feel hopeless and even suicidal about their situations, they often do not reach out for

help from their parents, friends, or teachers. These students feel completely alone, as if

no one has ever experienced or could ever understand what they are going through,

pushing them to act on their suicidal feelings (Hazler & Denham, 2002).

Another example of adolescent suicide due to being bullied is 11-year-old Carl

Walker-Hoover. In April of 2009 in his Massachusetts home, Carl Walker-Hoover

committed suicide by hanging himself just a week shy of his 12th birthday after
22

enduring a year of being bullied at school, including daily taunts of acting feminine

and being gay (James, 2009). Phoebe Princes story also illustrates the frequency with

which adolescent suicides occur as a result of bullying. In Massachusetts as well,

Phoebe Prince committed suicide in January of 2010 by hanging herself at the age of

15 after months of being taunted and bullied at school (Bennett, 2010).

More recently, Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old freshman at Rutgers University,

committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge in September of

2010. Tyler took his own life after finding out that his roommate secretly filmed him

during a sexual encounter with another man in his dorm room and posted it live on the

Internet (Bennett, 2010). Even closer to home, a Pleasant Valley High School senior in

Chico, California committed suicide in October of 2010 because he was bullied at

school. His friends reported he was teased and bullied for being extremely smart and

getting straight As (Callahan, 2010). As a testament to how important computer

technology is in the lives of todays youth population, particularly social networking

Web sites, both Tyler Clementi and the Chico, California high school senior posted

goodbye messages on their Facebook pages before taking their own lives.

Students who are systematically bullied sometimes strike back with deadly

force as well. Rather than take their own lives in order to escape the pain and

humiliation, these bullied students turn their anger outward, lashing out at their

tormentors with vengeful violence. Garrett (2003) proclaims:

Since 1992, there have been 250 violent deaths in schools that involved

multiple victims, including the horrid Columbine High School massacre. In


23

virtually every school shooting, bullying has been a factor. As in the Littleton,

Colorado, shootings, most of the students who committed these violent crimes

were victims of bullying who finally decided to get revenge. (p. 1)

Harassment and bullying have been linked to almost 75% of school-shooting incidents

(Vossekuil, Fein, Reddy, Borum, & Modzeleski, 2002). The shooters in the 1999

Columbine tragedy, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, were part of a group of students at

Columbine High School known as the trench coat mafia. The students in this group

were harassed, bullied, and put down on a daily basis for years by a clique of athletes

and many other Columbine students. Every day when Harris and Klebold arrived at

school, they were met at the entrance by a gauntlet of students who poured orange

juice on their trench coats. They were also harassed and called names in the hallways

and cafeteria (Garrett, 2003, p. 1). The Columbine High School massacre is just one

example of the several deadly school shootings that have occurred in the United States

in recent years.

Rigby (2004) agrees that the [s]ystematic exclusion of individualsnot in

itself violent may in some circumstances lead to those who are excluded feeling

alienated and ready to act violently against those they see as responsible for their

unhappiness (p. 165). According to Ferguson (2008), in the span of only 10 years,

other multiple homicides on school campuses have been committed in Arkansas (in

1998, 2000, and 2008), Oregon (in 1998), California (2001), Virginia (in 2002 and

2007), Minnesota (in 2003 and 2005), Pennsylvania (in 2003 and 2006), New Jersey

(in 2004), Vermont (in 2006), Colorado (in 2006), Washington (in 2007), Louisiana
24

(in 2008), and Illinois (in 2008). The above list of states where multiple-homicide

school shootings have taken place covers virtually every region in the United States.

The problem of school violence, in which Garrett (2003) asserts bullying is almost

always a factor, is obviously far-reaching and widespread.

Girls and boys who are systematically bullied in school are also at risk of

suffering major academic performance problems. Simmons (2002) presents a wealth

of anecdotal evidence discussing how girls are often so intimidated by their bullies

that they are too scared or emotionally traumatized to even attend school, let alone

focus their brain power and concentrate on what theyre supposed to be learning. Ten

percent of students who drop out before graduating from high school do so because of

being repeatedly bullied (Weinhold & Weinhold, 1998).

Bullying can also lead or contribute to isolation, depression, and anxiety in its

victims, further affecting their academic motivation (Breguet, 2007). Students who are

preoccupied with wondering and dreading what is going to happen when the bell rings

and they have to step out into the hallway often cannot muster up the motivation to

care about or participate in what is going on in the classroom. Garrett (2003) states,

Bullying can affect the social environment of a school, create a climate of fear among

students, inhibiting their ability to learn [italics added], and leading to other antisocial

behavior (p. 7). It doesnt help the situation that due to the particular covert nature of

girl bullying, teachers and administrators may not even recognize that a bullying

problem exists. If the educators are made aware of the situation, the teachers and

administrators may not know if they can or should intervene since no actual physical
25

harassment is taking place. Girls in this predicament are further traumatized due to the

lack of understanding and support from the adults who are supposed to protect them.

Female students will likely lose confidence in the safety and nurturance of their

schools, further alienating them from the academic community (Simmons, 2002).

Traditional Schoolyard Bullying

According to Simmons (2002), bullying can be passive and covert (the trend

with girls) or obvious and violent (the typical mode of bullying for boys). Artz (1998)

points out, however, that although violent white schoolgirls who are not in juvenile

detention are virtually ignored as if they dont exist, in fact they do. Girls are very

much in the forefront of the rise in violence in schools, both as victims and as

perpetrators (Artz, 1998, p. vi). Olweus (1993), one of the first educational

researchers to study bullying extensively and to publish his results, differentiates

between two main forms of bullying direct bullying and indirect bullying. Olweus

(1993) explains:

It is useful to distinguish between direct bullying with relatively open attacks

on a victim and indirect bullying in the form of social isolation and

intentional exclusion from a group. It is important to pay attention also to the

second, less visible form of bullying. (p. 10)

Direct bullying can be related to the obvious, overt form of bullying and indirect

bullying is comparable to the more passive and covert form of bullying both discussed

by Simmons (2002). Olweus (1993) makes a point to draw attention to the importance

of not underestimating the power and danger of indirect bullying.


26

Bullying can occur in our schools, in the workplace, in the homes and on the

streets of our local neighborhoods, and on the Internet, among other places. Garrett

(2003) reports, Bullying generally begins in the elementary grades, peaks in the sixth

through the eighth grades, and persists into high school (p. 11). Especially since the

advent of cell phones and the Internet, bullying can take place virtually anywhere at

any time.

Garrett (2003) also states that, incredibly, 90% of fourth through eighth graders

report being the victims of bullies. Sixty percent of American teenagers witness

bullying at least once a day (National Crime Prevention Council, 2003). According to

San Antonio and Salzfass (2007):

Bullying most often focuses on qualities that students (and the broader society)

perceive to be different from the established norm, such as expected gender-

specific behavior for boys and girls, dress and physical appearance, and

manner of speaking. Bullying is connected to diversity, and reducing bullying

means taking steps to make the community and the school safe for diversity of

all kinds. (p. 32)

School bullying is an issue that affects virtually all students, either as victims or

eyewitnesses. Bullying also exists in the adult population, but then it is typically called

harassment (Morgan, 2010).

Harassment Among Adults

Garrett (2003) asserts that the primary lesson bullies and their victims learn as

a result of the childhood bullying experience is that the use of power and aggression
27

may enhance status. A major societal concern surrounding bullying is that the negative

lessons about power and aggression learned in adolescence may transfer to more

serious forms of violence that continue into adulthood (Garrett, 2003). Research on

abuse within families consistently demonstrates that the abused are likely to become

abusers when they have families of their own, leading to the suggestion that children

who are bullied are more likely to become bullies themselves (Garrett, 2003, p. 70).

O'Donnell et al. (2006) found that at least among their economically-disadvantaged

sample, the prevalence of middle school aggression and subsequent intimate partner

physical violence are high among both males and females. Controlling for socio-

demographic characteristics, middle-school aggression is a significant risk factor for

partner victimization and perpetration (ODonnell et al., 2006, p. 693). In addition to

victimizing their partners and families, childhood bullies who grow up to be adult

harassers can often display aggressive behavior in their workplace as well.

Although Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination

and harassment in the workplace based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin

(and created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission the EEOC to

monitor and enforce the new anti-discrimination laws), workplace harassment, sexual

or otherwise, is still quite prevalent. Sexual harassment is defined as unsolicited and

unwelcome sexual overtures, whether they are written, verbal, physical, and/or visual

(Carinci, 2009, p. 221).

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute (2007), 37% of all workers

have been victims of workplace harassment and 72% of the workplace bullies are
28

managers or bosses, exacerbating the imbalance of power inherent in all forms of

bullying. The Workplace Bullying Institute (2007) also states that 40% of harassment

victims never report the bullying to their employers, with only 3% of victims pursuing

legal remedies. Sixty-two percent of employers neglect harassment problems in their

workplace. In fact, in 71% of workplace harassment cases, employers actually

retaliated against the victims who reported the bullying, with 24% of those employees

who brought the harassment to their employers attention losing their jobs for doing so

(Workplace Bullying Institute, 2007).

As is the case with school bullying, workplace harassment is rife with gender

inequity too. The Workplace Bullying Institute (2007) reports that only 40% of

workplace bullies are women, while 60% of harassers are men. Fifty-seven percent of

the victims of sexual harassment at work are women. In the cases where women are

the harassers, 71% of them are bullying other women. In whatever context the above

statistics are examined, women are overwhelmingly the biggest victims of sexual

harassers at work. However, whether women or men, girls or boys, workplace

harassers or school bullies, all bullies share some characteristics in common

(Crapanzano, Frick, & Terranova, 2010).

Characteristic Traits of Bullies

Although bullies can vary greatly in terms of individual personality

characteristics, both boy bullies and girl bullies do tend to exhibit similar traits.

Research studies have shown that some of the strongest predictors of displaying

bullying behaviors include anger, depression, anxiety, a deficit of social skills, and a
29

marked lack of empathy (Espelage, Mebane, & Swearer, 2004; Harris, Harvey, &

Booth, 2010). Bullies are often aggressive, impulsive, have positive attitudes toward

violence, and need to dominate others (Swearer, Song, Cary, Eagle, & Mickelson,

2001, p. 95). Bullies tend to have some combination of these negative personality

traits, contributing to their tendency to bully others.

In contrast to the above information on typical characteristics of bullies,

Kevorkian and DAntona (2008) argue that bullies are often popular and

psychologically strong, their bullying behaviors garner respect from their peers, and

yet they dont usually have high self-esteem. Teenagers and even younger children

sometimes use bullying their peers in school as their preferred method of gaining

power, recognition, respect, influence, and ultimately, popularity (Witvliet et al.,

2010). In short, school bullying can contribute significantly to the development of

unfair and hurtful hierarchies among students. This conflicting research just goes to

show that individual bullies and bullying behavior in general cannot necessarily be

easily defined, explained, characterized, or prevented.

Garrett (2003) suggests that the home environment plays the largest, most

significant role in producing bullies. According to her, the combination of home

factors contributing to bullying behavior includes lack of parental warmth and

attention, poor supervision, parental modeling of aggressive behavior, and an active

and impulsive temperament on the part of the child (p. 10). In other words, what

children witness and experience at home likely influences them heavily to behave in

the same ways at school and in other places outside the home.
30

Garrett (2003) defines bullying as unwanted words or physical actions that

can make a person feel bad (p. 5). Bullying encompasses an extremely wide variety

of behaviors and can include spreading rumors, social exclusion or isolation, teasing,

manipulation, threats, and physical violence (Garrett, 2003). According to Rigby

(2008), the majority of bullying usually takes place on the school playground, on the

way to and from school and home, and even inside the classroom. Although bullying

has been a prevalent problem mostly in the schoolyard about as long as formal

schooling in the United States has been in place, bullying has recently become

rampant in a whole new venue -- the Internet (Shariff, 2008). This new trend of

bullying on the Internet, and through the use of other electronic devices such as cell

phones, is aptly referred to as cyber-bullying.

Cyber-Bullying

Cyber-bullying is a completely new form of bullying, made possible by our

youth cultures preoccupation and expertise with computer technology (and other

forms of technology as well). Cyber-bullying is defined by Hinduja and Patchin

(2009) as willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell

phones, and other electronic devices (p. 5). Unfortunately, cyber-bullying has opened

up whole new worlds of harassment to students with a bent toward traditional

schoolyard bullying, particularly because of the anonymous nature of the Internet.

Bullies have ample opportunities to get away with much more harassing behavior than

would ever be tolerated in a traditional school setting. The toxic mix of normal

adolescent conflict, the heightened technological and sexual sophistication among


31

todays youth population, and the largely anonymous nature of the Internet create[s] a

volatile combination that has taken bullying to a whole new (dangerous) level --

cyber-bullying (Hinduja & Patchin, 2009, p. 15).

Although traditional schoolyard bullying and cyber-bullying are very closely

related, cyber-bullying does have many unique characteristics (Shariff, 2008). Both

traditional bullying and cyber-bullying consist of unwarranted harassment that can

bring enormous academic, emotional, and social harm to its victims, but cyber-

bullyings particular salient features potentially make it even more dangerous than

traditional bullying (Willard, 2007). Shariffs (2008) list of the specific characteristics

of cyber-bullying include anonymity, an infinite audience, prevalent sexual and

homophobic harassment, permanence of expression, and the immense popularity of

social networking Web sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and MySpace. Willard

(2007) notes that much of this activity is occurring off-campus and

cyberbullying can [happen] 24/7 (pp. 1, 2). Because students who wish to harass

others can do so from the privacy of their own homes at any time during the day or

night, the prevalence of bullying will inevitably increase sharply.

In addition to particular characteristics, cyber-bullying and other forms of

online social aggression also encompass some distinct behaviors, actions, or methods

of harassment. According to Willard (2007), cyber-bullying methods consist of tactics

such as flaming, heated online verbal exchanges that generally include offensive,

rude, and vulgar language, insults, and sometimes threats (p. 5); denigration, a

harmful, untrue, or cruelspeech about a target [that] may be posted online or sent
32

to others (p. 7); and trickery (which can occur as part of outing), fooling [a]n

innocent targetinto thinking that a communication or sending of images is private,

when the cyberbully intends to trick the target into communicating or disclosing

something embarrassing that will then be disseminated to others or used as a threat

(p. 9). Additional methods of cyber-bullying include outing, [s]haring somebody

elses secrets or embarrassing information or images online; impersonation, breaking

into someones e-mail account, posing as that person, and sending messages to make

the person look bad or get him or her into trouble; exclusion, barring someone from an

online group; and cyberstalking and cyberthreats, [o]nline material that raises

concerns that the creator may intend to inflict harm or violence to himself or herself or

someone else (Breguet, 2007, pp. 55, 56).

Cyberstalking is perhaps the most dangerous tool in a cyber-bullys arsenal.

Although cyberstalking can be difficult to precisely define (because it can contain

such a wide range of behaviors), Bocij (2004) identifies the following features or

combinations of features [which] can be considered to characterize a true stalking

situation: Malice, Premeditation, Repetition, Distress, Obsession, Vendetta, No

Legitimate Purpose, Personally Directed, Disregarded Warnings to Stop, Harassment,

and Threats (pp. 9, 10). Bocijs (2004) list reiterates the fact that bullying, online or

otherwise, is not just a normal part of childhood that kids need to learn to live with.

Facing a bully without parental support or other supervision almost certainly leads to

an increase in suffering and, in the long run, despair (Sheras, 2002, p. 33). Cyber-

bullying is a repeated and intentionally cruel act that children should not have to deal
33

with on their own. The possible consequences of children being left alone to suffer

cyber-bullying in silence can be tragic.

Bullying and Gender

Almost from the time bullying was even acknowledged as a real problem in

our American schools (with solutions sought to curb the problem), boys have typically

bullied other boys and girls have bullied other girls. Although cross-gender bullying

does exist, it is much less common (Dijkstra, Lindenberg, & Veenstra, 2007). This

issue tends to be more detrimental to girls simply because girls bullying is usually

much more hidden and covert, making it more difficult for teachers and administrators

to even recognize the problem, let alone take decisive steps to help rectify the situation

(Simmons, 2002). As a result, girls usually end up being tortured longer and in more

emotionally damaging ways before parents and/or educators even realize theres a

problem and attempt to intervene. Therefore, the most serious negative long-term

emotional (and academic) effects of being bullied in school are usually suffered by

girls (Meyer, 2009).

Boys certainly do not escape the damaging effects of bullying, though. Kimmel

(1999) suggests that [f]rom an early age, boys learn that violence is not only an

acceptable form of conflict resolution, but one that is admired (p. 18). Kimmel (1999)

goes on to say, Without another cultural mechanism by which young boys can come

to think of themselves as men, theyve eagerly embraced violence as a way to become

men (p. 19). So the socially constructed concept of masculinity is playing a

significant role in subjecting boys and men to violent acts perpetrated by their peers.
34

Kimmel (1999) does suggest a solution to the problem of skewed cultural ideas about

masculinity greatly contributing to violent attitudes and behavior among schoolboys:

If we really want to rescue boys, protect boys, promote boyhood, then our task

must be to find ways to reveal and challenge this ideology of masculinity, to

disrupt the facile boys will be boys model, and to erode boys sense of

entitlement. (p. 20)

If educators are truly invested in protecting their male students from school violence,

they must work together to dismantle the traditional cultural climate of schools that

embraces the current patriarchal view of how gender roles should function in

American society.

A major step intended to rectify the gender inequity pervasive in the

educational system, related to the handling of bullying situations and otherwise, was

taken almost 40 years ago, with the passage and theoretical implementation of Title IX

of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX is a national law that requires gender

equity for boys and girls in every educational program that receives federal funding.

The general public seems to perceive Title IX as applicable only to sports, but

Athletics is only one of ten key educational areas addressed by the law. The other key

areas are: Access to Higher Education, Career Education, Education for Pregnant and

Parenting Students, Employment, Learning Environment, Math and Science, Sexual

Harassment, Standardized Testing, and Technology.

Although the passage of Title IX almost four decades ago was intended to level

the academic playing field between boys and girls in a variety of areas, the actual
35

implementation of the law in schools remains theoretical. The implementation of Title

IX has been spotty at best and blatantly ignored or undermined by school officials at

its worst. Some school authorities have even argued that certain sections of Title IX

should be rescinded, in order to create more boy-friendly classrooms, with increased

testing, frequent competitions between students, and the inclusion of war poetry in the

curriculum (Sadker, 2002). Gender inequity in the American public school system

persists, and as a result, bullying among girls (and its terrible consequences) continues

to be considered a much less serious problem than that of boy bullying (Meyer, 2009).

Although girl and boy bullies do share some individual personality

characteristics, they also differ in some significant ways. For example, boys typically

bully in much more obvious and upfront ways, often resorting to outright physical

aggression and violence (Dukes, Stein, & Zane, 2010). The findings of psychologist

James Garbarinos 1999 study of youthful violent offenders suggest that one possible

cause of violence in men is the way boys swallow anger and hurt rather than express it

in healthy ways (Kimmel, 1999). If it was more socially acceptable for boys to openly

express their emotions, thereby purging the internal negativity rather than bottling it

up, perhaps hurt and angry boys would not turn into violent men as often as they do

now. Discussing the youthful offenders he studied, Garbarino (1999) postulated that

[d]eadly petulance usually hides some deep emotional wounds, a way of

compensating through an exaggerated sense of grandeur for an inner sense of

violation, victimization, and injustice (p. 128). Gilligan (1997) also argues that the

origin of violence in boys and men is typically the fear of shame and ridicule, and the
36

overbearing need to prevent others from laughing at oneself by making them weep

instead (p. 77). In other words, Gilligans (1997) insight into the roots of violent

behavior simply reflects the age-old notion that schoolyard bullies make fun of other

people in order to mask their own insecurities.

Bullying on the part of boys is often mishandled by school authorities in that

severe punishment is rigidly implemented rather than conflict resolution skills taught

and employed. Zero-tolerance policies automatically expel boys from school, resulting

in negative academic consequences, rather than incidents being evaluated on a case-

by-case basis (Furlong, Bates, Smith, & Kingery, 2004). The deeper reasons for the

bullying behavior are never addressed or resolved, and no compassion/ethics/caring/

social issues/character curriculum to prevent bullying in the first place is ever

implemented at all (Furlong et al., 2004). And in addition to the decreased academic

instruction time, students who are unfairly expelled under zero-tolerance policies

might also experience increased feelings of alienation and resentment, furthering their

reasons for bullying in the first place.

Girls, on the other hand, usually bully using more physically passive and

covert methods, such as relational aggression. Simmons (2002) defines relationally

aggressive behavior as:

ignoring someone to punish them or get ones own way, excluding someone

socially for revenge, using negative body language or facial expressions,

sabotaging someone elses relationships, or threatening to end a relationship


37

unless the friend agrees to a request. In these acts, the perpetrator uses her

relationship with the victim as a weapon. (p. 21)

In other words, girls are more likely to bully using emotional rather than physical

tactics, capitalizing on the social importance of personal relationships in the lives of

pre-adolescent and adolescent girls. According to Brown & Gilligan (1992), girls are

less likely to react to hurt feelings or exclusion with physical violence than with verbal

outbursts because words seem, in some ways, more powerful to them. Relational

aggression among adolescent girls is particularly damaging because developmental

psychologists theorize that while boys are most psychologically at risk in childhood,

for girls the time of greatest risk is adolescence (Cohen, Blanc, Christman, Brown, &

Sims, 1996).

Rather than mishandling bullying incidents as is often the case with boys (such

as rushing to strictly punitive measures instead of attempting compassionate solutions

which might delve deeper into the emotional issues behind the bullying), school

authorities often just ignore bullying behavior among girls (Simmons, 2002). Twenty-

five percent of teachers did not identify name-calling, spreading rumors, intimidating

by staring, taking anothers things, or leaving people out as bullying (Boulton, 1997).

Because bullying on the part of girls is usually much more hidden, passive, and covert

when compared to boys bullying behavior, educators may not even be aware of the

problem. And if the teachers and administrators are aware of the bullying among girls,

they might not feel obligated or empowered to deal with it because girl bullying often

does not involve outright physical aggression.


38

Bullying and Homophobia

According to From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, a 2005

report from GLSEN and Harris Interactive, the top three reasons students said their

peers were most often bullied at school were physical appearance, actual or perceived

sexual orientation, and gender expression outside the norm of culturally-mandated

gender roles. As stated earlier, 11-year-old suicide victim Carl Walker-Hoover did not

identify as gay, but that didnt matter to his tormentors. That was what they decided to

taunt him with, regardless of the reality of the situation. Approximately 25% of

students from elementary through high school have reported that they have been

harassed or bullied on school property because of their race, ethnicity, gender,

religion, sexual orientation, or disability (Austin, Skager, & Bates, 2003).

This condemnation of gay students in schools is pervasive and damaging. The

isolation and vulnerability experienced by these students is exacerbated by the refusal

of teachers and administrators to intervene on their behalf (Meyer, 2009, p. 5).

Eighty-five percent of teachers oppose integrating lesbian, gay, and bisexual themes in

their curricula (Massachusetts Governors Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth,

1993). Gay and lesbian students are particularly targeted by bullies at school at least

partly because the typical school culture allows it to go on. The most common type of

this harassment is verbal, often in the form of comments such as, thats so gay,

which is not only tacitly tolerated by school officials, but also overtly allowed (Meyer,

2009). Gay and straight students alike hear 25 anti-gay epithets a day, and teachers fail
39

to respond to these comments 97% of the time (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education

Network, 2005).

Biased language related to sexual orientation is used frequently among

students and is related to prominent social concerns such as bullying (Poteat &

DiGiovanni, 2010, p. 1123). More than 91% of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and

Transgender) students say they hear homophobic slurs or expressions frequently or

often (Kosciw, 2004). Homophobic language is the most common form of

discrimination experienced by sexual minority youth, which includes gay, lesbian,

bisexual, and transgender young people (Poteat & DiGiovanni, 2010). As the

aforementioned case of Carl Walker-Hoover illustrates, the use of biased language

based on sexual orientation is frequently directed at sexual minority youth, but it is

also directed at students not actually perceived as gay. Perhaps because the gay

community is still a marginalized group in society, gay epithets often carry more

weight than other forms of verbal harassment.

In the construction of social hierarchies (or cliques) in schools, dominance

behavior expressed as gay epithets is sometimes used to place the targeted

individual(s) in a subordinate position in the hierarchy due to the cultural

stigmatization of the gay community in general (Poteat & DiGiovanni, 2010). In

patriarchal societies such as the United States, girls/women and the queer community

are often lumped in together as one big mass of femininity, which is usually perceived

and spoken of in a negative cultural context. Masculine traits and behaviors are
40

universally valued, while the expression of femininity is disdained and perceived as a

deficit to overcome.

Predrag (2003) reports that only 20% of gay and lesbian students have never

been bullied in school in one way or another. So 80% of gay and lesbian students are

at an even higher risk for depression, dropping out of school, and suicide because they

are often the targets of school graffiti, vandalism, and ostracism (Reis & Saewyc,

1999). Students who describe themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender are

five times more likely to miss school because of feeling unsafe, forcing 28% to drop

out entirely (National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 1984). According to Woods

(2001), other negative effects that gay and lesbian students often experience as a result

of homophobic harassment include acute embarrassment (53% of girls and 32% of

boys), self-consciousness (44% of girls and 19% of boys), and lack of confidence

(32% of girls and 16% of boys). Harassed students reported that they talk less in class,

find it hard to pay attention, and change their behaviors and withdraw from activities

in order to avoid harassers (Woods, 2001). The finding of Poteat & DiGiovanni (2010)

that biased language use is indeed associated with bullying regardless of boys levels

of actual sexual prejudice underscores the need to address homophobic language and

prejudice as part of anti-bullying programs in schools.

Prevention / Intervention

Educators and parents must be all the more vigilant about protecting our

children from this new version of pernicious and pervasive cyber-bullying

(Hinduja & Patchin, 2009, p. 15). Although there is a lack of extensive case law in the
41

area of cyber-bullying and school liability, many districts have taken it upon

themselves to take responsibility for monitoring, preventing, and disciplining cyber-

bullying situations among their student populations (Willard, 2007). And very

recently, in response to increasing teen suicide rates and numerous high-profile

incidents of bullying ending in tragedy, many states are passing anti-bullying

legislation that their schools must comply with.

Most notably, soon after the suicides of Carl Walker-Hoover and Phoebe

Prince, the state of Massachusetts passed legislation in March of 2010 that is widely

considered to be one of the strictest anti-bullying laws in the United States (Swearer &

Delucia-Waack, 2010). The new law requires principals to write and implement

prevention plans and to investigate any report of severe or repeated episodes of

bullying, online or off, that could potentially harm a student physically or emotionally

(Swearer & Delucia-Waack, 2010). David Abel (2010) reported in the online version

of The Boston Globe that when the bill passed, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo

stated, This bill aims to secure our students from bullying, both during the school day

and after school hours. In light of recent tragedies, the House has taken the appropriate

steps to protect our students from the terror of bullying and cyber-bullying (para. 3).

The state of California, however, takes a much more passive approach to

addressing the serious problem of bullying in our schools. Californias Education

Code Section 35294.2, subdivision (g) (2001) states:

The State Department of Education shall develop model policies on the

prevention of bullying and on conflict resolution and make the model policies
42

available to school districts. A school district may adopt one or both of these

policies for incorporation into its school safety plan.

Just the use of the word may in the above section of the Education Code shows that

Californias school districts are not legally compelled to take decisive steps toward

combating bullying in their schools. In fact, the adoption and implementation of

bullying prevention policies by Californias school districts is completely optional.

Schools have opted to adopt a number of prevention strategies, among them

providing students and parents with informational education on respectable and

responsible uses of technology, developing school policies limiting student cell phone

use, and training teachers to understand technology and how it can be used for both

prosocial and deviant motives (Swearer, Espelage, & Napolitano, 2009, p. 115).

Parents should also make sure they are completely informed about what their children

are doing online, so if a cyber-bullying problem starts to occur, it can be

acknowledged and dealt with before it turns into a dangerous situation. Shariff (2008)

recommends that parents demand full access to their childrens e-mail and social

networking accounts at all times and to check them regularly for any signs of cyber-

bullying. Children may resent having to give up some of their online privacy at first,

but parents just need to explain that it is simply in the best interests of their safety and

well being.

In order to combat the negative effects of cyber-bullying and traditional

school-based bullying on its victims, parents and educators have devised several other

strategies to intervene as well. For example, although it may seem overly simplistic,
43

Simmons (2002) advocates that parents actively listen to their children when theyre

discussing bullying ordeals. It is her contention that the simple act of listening conveys

to the child an extremely important sense of familial support, giving the child the

strength and resilience necessary to endure a bullys harassment. Simmons (2002) also

states that girls need our helpto make peace with conflict. This means providing

girlswith permission to experience the uncomfortable feelings that often precede

anger and conflict (p. 231). In other words, we need to teach girls that they are just as

capable (and justified in doing so) as boys to resolve conflict in an open, honest, and

timely manner, rather than bottling it all up inside and risk having it manifest as

manipulation and intimidation of peers later on.

According to Swearer and Delucia-Waack (2010), the whole school

approach perhaps holds the most promise for Massachusetts and other states looking

to significantly curb their school bullying problems. Because only 47% of victimized

primary school students reported telling a teacher about the bullying they were

experiencing (Ziegler & Pepler, 1993), the key to this intervention strategy is making

lessons on stereotyping and emotional IQ part of the everyday curriculum, just like

physical education and math (Swearer & Delucia-Waack, 2010). Many schools have

explored the benefits of implementing schoolwide programs to promote social and

emotional learning, prevent bullying, and nurture positive peer relationships (San

Antonio & Salzfass, 2007, p. 32). Schaps (2009) also advocates for building students

sense of community connectedness in school through explicit character education as a

bullying and violence prevention technique. The main idea behind these programs is to
44

teach students compassion and respect in a very direct way, creating supportive

relationships among and between students, thus making bullying less likely.

Conclusion

Cyber-bullying is a major problem among our school-age population. Bullying

behavior, whether online or not, can often cause serious academic, emotional, social,

and safety issues for its young victims. Traditional bullying behavior has become

aggravated in the digital age by constant access to social media and cell phones

(Subject to Debate, 2010, p. 7). Cyber-bullying, in particular, adds a whole new

dimension to the problem because aggressors can bully anonymously and reach a

much wider audience than is possible in a schoolyard. Cyber-bullying issues may

possibly become even more difficult to deal with as technology becomes more

sophisticated and our young people become more tech-savvy. Especially in the wake

of several recent highly publicized cases of young teenagers committing suicide at

least partly in response to being relentlessly bullied, in cyberspace and elsewhere, it is

absolutely imperative that educators, students who are being harassed, and their

parents all work together to acknowledge the true dangers of cyber-bullying and

aggressively implement the recommended strategies to stand up and fight against it.

Teachers and administrators in particular must come to appreciate the complex and

ever-changing nature of bullying in order to truly deal with it as the serious and

detrimental problem that it is.


45

Chapter 3

METHODOLOGY

Introduction

School bullying, and cyber-bullying in particular, have become serious

problems in schools across the nation. One of the most severe repercussions of

pervasive cyber-bullying is large numbers of bullied American teenagers taking their

own lives in a desperate attempt to escape the torment from their harassers. Much

research has been done and relevant literature has been created in the area of

schoolyard bullying, but there is still a lack of extensive research in the specialized

area of cyber-bullying. This research study and resulting thesis have attempted to

contribute to a deeper and richer understanding of the issue of cyber-bullying so fewer

students have to suffer its dangers. Following is a detailed explanation of the general

parameters and specific elements of the educational research study documented here,

including the primary and secondary research questions, the research study design, the

research instruments, the methods of data collection, the participants and setting

involved, and the analysis procedures.

Primary Research Question

Because middle school is the level of schooling when bullying behavior peaks

(Garrett, 2003), the studys primary educational research question was: How do sixth,

seventh, and eighth grade students think educators (teachers, administrators, and

support staff) can best intervene to help them and their parents avoid the social,

emotional, and academic pitfalls of adolescent cyber-bullying?


46

Secondary Questions

In addition to the primary educational research question, this research study

attempted to answer the following secondary research questions as well. How often

are middle school students actually bullied? In what specific ways can bullying

negatively affect middle school students social development and academic

achievement? What steps are educators currently taking to try to curtail adolescent

cyber-bullying? What do middle school students believe still ought to be done to deal

with the problem? Are schools even legally and/or ethically obligated to intervene

when the majority of cyber-bullying usually occurs off campus and after school hours?

How involved are the parents of middle school students with their childrens Internet

and cell phone activities? What can be done to encourage parents to become more

aware of these areas of their childrens social lives? How does cyber-bullying differ

from traditional schoolyard bullying and why do the differences matter in terms of

prevention and intervention? Is the anonymity afforded by the Internet a large factor in

the prevalence of cyber-bullying? How do girls typically bully each other as compared

to how boys commonly bully other boys? How often does cross-gender bullying

occur? What common characteristics (family background, personality traits, displayed

behavior) do bullies usually share? What characteristics are similar in students who

are often the targets of bullies? Do middle school students typically recognize bullying

behavior as something more problematic than normal peer conflict?


47

Research Study Design

This study examined and analyzed middle school (sixth, seventh, and eighth

grade) students patterns of thought and behavior related to adolescent cyber-bullying

in order to better understand why so many middle school students become bullies or

end up the victims of bullies. When attempting to ascertain important beliefs and

attitudes, as well as practices, of a certain population, researchers are well advised to

make use of survey research designs (Creswell, 2002). Survey research designs are

appropriate for measuring opinions about issues, but survey procedures are utilized for

other purposes as well. Examples of additional uses of survey designs include

identifying certain characteristics of a particular group, understanding a groups

important beliefs and attitudes, and identifying common practices or behaviors within

a group (Creswell, 2002).

Creswell (2002) also states that [t]he most popular form of survey design used

in education is a cross-sectional survey design (p. 398). The cross-sectional survey

design is so popular in educational research because of its many advantages when

attempting to measure current attitudes and practices, primarily the fact that when

survey respondents complete a survey, they are recording data about their present

views. Another benefit to researchers utilizing the cross-sectional research design is

that [i]t also provides information in a short amount of time, such as the time required

for administering the survey and collecting the information (Creswell, 2002, p. 398).

The main difference between the cross-sectional survey design and a longitudinal

survey design (the second of the two basic types of research surveys) is that cross-
48

sectional surveys are used to collect data that express prevailing opinions, attitudes,

and beliefs, whereas longitudinal designs are utilized to study individuals over a

distinct period of time (Creswell, 2002).

Research Instruments

Accordingly, the research instrument employed for this research study was the

use of a cross-sectional survey using straightforward questions that allowed the

students to share their insights both quantitatively and qualitatively. Jones and Kottler

(2006) point out that both quantitative and qualitative approaches are viable research

tools to use in answering questions.

The survey consisted of frequency questions answered on a Likert Scale, yes

or no questions, and open-ended questions that gave the respondents the opportunity

to express themselves in their own words, providing insight into the areas that they

deemed most important. On the survey (see Appendix A), the students were asked to

use a Likert Scale to rate the frequency of their observation of certain bullying

behaviors. As Babbie (1998) explains, Rensis Likert formalized the procedure to

determine the extent to which survey respondents hold a particular attitude or

perspective through the creation of the Likert Scale, a format in which respondents are

asked to strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree, for example. The

particular value of this format is the unambiguous ordinality of response categories.

[Likert] created a method by which this question format could be used to determine

the relative intensity of different items (Babbie, 1998, p. 183). The survey also

included yes or no questions regarding general bullying behavior, specific cyber-


49

bullying behaviors, gender differences in bullying, and school and parental

involvement in students activities related to technology. The Likert Scale used for the

frequency questions and the yes or no questions were the basis for the quantitative

data.

The survey also gave the students the opportunity to answer open-ended

questions, providing narratives primarily regarding the students perceived intent of

bullies and typical characteristics of victims of bullying. The open-ended questions

afforded the respondents the chance to speak freely, to delve deeper into the surveys

topics, and to address issues and provide suggestions not specifically covered on the

research survey. The narratives provided as answers to the open-ended questions

represent the qualitative data (which ended up supplying the bulk of the research

studys significant findings).

Data Collection

Data was collected for this study through the use of surveys distributed to

middle school students throughout the greater Sacramento area, with the written

permission of the school administrators (see Appendix B), teachers, and parents and

with the signed consent of the students themselves. In two separate sixth grade

classrooms in a northern California elementary school and in two seventh and two

eighth grade Language Arts classes in a northern California middle school, students

received parent permission forms (see Appendix C) to take home for their parent(s) to

review. The students parents were asked to sign and return the permission forms only

if they wished to opt-out of their children taking part in the survey. Once back in class,
50

students were asked to sign their own informed consent forms documenting their

voluntary participation in the survey (see Appendix D). The survey respondents were

asked to identify on their surveys their gender, ethnicity, age, grade, and school in

order to categorize their responses by gender, racial/ethnic and socio-economic

factors, maturity level, and physical geography. The survey was administered, and

then the students were given a short presentation on bullying and cyber-bullying. The

students were given the cyber-bullying presentation after the survey in order to

provide them with facts and prevention/intervention strategies related to bullying, but

without skewing the results of the survey.

The survey items included questions with a set of answers for the students to

choose from, such as yes or no questions and questions that inquired on the

frequency of bullying episodes that the students have been a part of or a witness to, for

example. Several open-ended questions, which were specifically designed for the

students to have the opportunity to express their thoughts and opinions a little more

fully and personally, were included as well.

Participants

Because bullying behavior is most rampant and destructive in middle school,

sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students were surveyed as voluntary participants in

this research study. The researcher attempted to assemble an accurately representative

sample of the northern California middle school population, with a proportionate

balance of students of different genders, races/ethnicities/cultural backgrounds, socio-

economic statuses, ages (keeping in mind the middle school level being studied), and
51

neighborhoods in the greater Sacramento, California area. The researcher contacted

and visited as many middle school classrooms as possible in order to obtain the most

representative and balanced sample available, so the results of the research study will

hopefully be able to be applied to the general northern California middle school

population. Ultimately, 148 students within several classrooms in two northern

California middle schools were surveyed. The names of the schools listed in the table

below are pseudonyms to protect participant confidentiality.

Table 1

Participants by School, Grade Level, and Gender

School & Female Male Declined to Total


Grade Level Indicate
Benjamin 35 28 0 63
Franklin
Middle
School, Gr. 6

Jackie 26 27 1 54
Robinson
Middle
School, Gr. 7

Jackie 14 15 2 31
Robinson
Middle
School, Gr. 8
52

Table 2

Participants by Age and Gender

Age Female Male Declined to Total


Indicate

10 3 0 0 3

11 26 22 0 48

12 27 23 1 51

13 13 18 0 31

14 6 7 2 15

Table 3

Participants by Ethnicity and Gender

Self-Identified Female Male Total


Ethnicity

Asian 9 5 14

Black 1 0 1

Hispanic 28 24 52

Native American 2 1 3

White 17 15 32

Other 2 4 6

Chose more than 15 19 34


one

Declined to 3 3 6
Indicate
53

Setting

The specific setting of the study within those schools in the greater Sacramento

area was sixth, seventh, and eighth grade English and Social Studies classes, within

which the administrators, teachers, parents, and students themselves authorized the

survey and presentation to take place. The researcher attempted to administer the

surveys in the mid-morning, when middle school students are typically more alert and

energetic. The study took place, however, during whatever time of day the teachers

deemed most appropriate in terms of their curriculum, lesson plans, and assuring the

least disruption to them and their students.

Analysis Procedures

Because one of the areas studied encompasses gender issues related to

bullying, the data was categorized into male and female survey respondents. Many of

the survey questions utilized sets of responses designed as a Likert scale. Taking the

array of responses and what it suggested into consideration, the frequency of

occurrence of each response was counted in order to judge proportional differences for

response categories between boys and girls. The proportions are the quantitative

descriptions. Whether or not the proportional differences between responses between

categories, including gender, are statistically disproportionate was ascertained by

using a nonparametric inferential statistical procedure, a Chi-square. According to

Jones and Kottler (2006), the Chi-square is an appropriate procedure for data that are

in a form that doesnt allow averaging, such as frequency counts in various categories.
54

The data collected from the open-ended questions was analyzed in a qualitative

fashion with a thematic approach. Jones and Kottler (2006) state:

[Q]ualitative studies present words in the form of verbal or written narratives

as the data in the report. The information can come from a variety of sources,

including interview transcripts, observation field notes, diary entries, and even

official institution records. Just as raw data in a quantitative study would be

the information as it was directly measured and collected as a result of some

intervention, the same can be true for qualitative studies. The raw data often

takes the form of what was said by interviewees before it was organized and

analyzed. (p. 11)

In the case of this research study, the raw qualitative data took the form of the

narratives provided by the survey respondents as written answers to the open-ended

survey questions. The academic and professional background of the researcher

contributed to the analysis of gender, educational, and emotional issues in bullying

among the middle school population. Using a thematic approach, the trends and

patterns that emerged from the narrative data were documented and examined.
55

Chapter 4

FINDINGS

Introduction

In this research study, data was collected and analyzed utilizing both

quantitative and qualitative methods, but the qualitative data dominated the studys

most significant findings. Using a cross-sectional survey with 6 Likert Scale, 11 yes

or no, and 8 open-ended questions, statistical data and narrative responses were

gathered. The Likert Scale used for the frequency questions and the yes or no

questions were the basis for the quantitative data. The narratives provided as answers

to the open-ended questions represented the qualitative data. Because one of the areas

studied encompassed gender issues related to bullying, a portion of the data was

categorized into male and female survey respondents, with subsequent gender-specific

findings.

One hundred forty-eight surveys were administered and analyzed using a Chi-

square, a nonparametric inferential statistical procedure. Taking the array of Likert

Scale responses and what it suggested into consideration, the frequency of occurrence

of each response was counted in order to judge proportional differences for response

categories between boys and girls. The proportions were the quantitative descriptions.

Whether or not the proportional differences between responses between categories,

including gender, were statistically disproportionate was ascertained with the Chi-

square. According to Jones and Kottler (2006), the Chi-square is an appropriate


56

procedure for data that are in a form that doesnt allow averaging, such as frequency

counts in various categories.

The data collected from the open-ended questions was analyzed in a qualitative

fashion with a thematic approach. In the case of this research study, the raw qualitative

data took the form of the narratives provided by the survey respondents as written

answers to the open-ended survey questions. Using a thematic approach, the trends

and patterns that emerged from the narrative data were documented and examined.

Participants

Of the 148 total participants in this research study, the respondents numbered

75 girls and 70 boys (three students declined to indicate their gender). All students in

middle school or upper elementary classrooms, 63 were students at Benjamin Franklin

Middle School in Sacramento, California and 85 attended Jackie Robinson Middle

School in Citrus Heights, California. (The names of the schools above are pseudonyms

to protect participant confidentiality.) There were 63 students in sixth grade, 54 were

in seventh grade, and 31 students were in eighth grade. Their ages ranged from ten to

fourteen years old. Three participants were ten years old, 48 were eleven, 51 were

twelve, 31 were thirteen, and 15 were fourteen years of age. The respondents

represented much ethnic diversity. Of those 148 survey respondents, 14 identified

themselves as Asian, 1 identified as Black, 52 identified as Hispanic, 3 identified

themselves as Native American, 32 identified as White, 6 indicated Other as his/her

ethnicity, 34 students chose more than one ethnicity from the available options, and 6

declined to state their ethnicities.


57

Quantitative Data

Of the 25 total questions on the research survey, there were 11 yes or no

questions and 6 frequency questions answered on a Likert Scale. Examining the yes

or no and Likert Scale questions, the most interesting findings emerged from the area

of cyber-bullying. These particular survey questions addressed issues such as the

frequency of students observations of and experiences with schoolyard and cyber-

bullying, the effect of the anonymity of the Internet on the likelihood of cyber-

bullying, and parent involvement in their childrens use of technology, specifically cell

phones and the Internet (see Tables 4-15). Other areas the yes or no and Likert Scale

questions addressed include the students perceptions of the level of the bullying

problem at their schools and the response, or lack thereof, of their teachers and

administrators (see Tables 16, 17, 18) and gender differences in bullying (seeTables

19, 20).

Cyber-Bullying

According to the quantitative data produced on the research survey through the

students answers to the yes or no questions and frequency questions answered on a

Likert Scale, a majority of middle school students admit to having been bullied at least

rarely or sometimes (see Tables 4, 5). A similar majority of middle school students

also admitted on the survey that they have bullied others at least rarely or sometimes

(see Tables 8, 9). Apparently traditional schoolyard bullying is still more of a problem

among these students than cyber-bullying because a far smaller percentage of survey

respondents indicated that they have been bullied or bullied others online or on their
58

cell phones (see Tables 6, 7, 10, 11). A majority of students agreed that people would

be less likely to bully online if it were not for the relative anonymity of the Internet

(see Table 12). While a majority of all the students surveyed responded that their

parents monitor their Internet activity and cell phone use at least rarely or sometimes,

the percentage of girls who answered in the affirmative was significantly higher than

that of the boys (see Tables 13, 14). A very large percentage of the students, both

female and male, indicated that they would not like their parents to be more involved

with their use of technology (see Table 15).

Table 4

Survey Question #1 Have You Ever Been the Victim or Target of a Bully?

Respondent YES NO Declined to State

All Students (148) 53.38% 46.62% 0%

Female (75) 52% 48% 0%

Male (70) 54.29% 45.71% 0%

Declined to Indicate 66.67% 33.33% 0%


Gender (3)
59

Table 5

Survey Question #2 If YES, How Often Are You Bullied?

Respondent RARELY SOMETIMES OFTEN ALWAYS Declined


to State
All Students 60.23% 26.92% 8.97% 2.56% 1.28%
(148)

Female (75) 63.89% 33.33% 2.78% 0% 0%

Male (70) 55% 22.50% 15% 5.00% 2.5%

Declined to 100% 0% 0% 0% 0%
Indicate
Gender (3)

Table 6

Survey Question #3 Have You Ever Been Bullied on the Internet or on Your Cell
Phone?

Respondent YES NO Declined to State

All Students (148) 18.24% 81.08% 0.68%

Female (75) 25.33% 73.33% 1.33%

Male (70) 10% 90% 0%

Declined to Indicate 33.33% 66.67% 0%


Gender (3)
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Table 7

Survey Question #4 If YES, How Often?

Respondent RARELY SOMETIMES OFTEN ALWAYS Declined


to State
All Students 59.26% 37.04% 3.70% 0% 0%
(148)

Female (75) 61.11% 33.33% 5.56% 0% 0%

Male (70) 50.00% 50.00% 0% 0% 0%

Declined to 100% 0% 0% 0% 0%
Indicate
Gender (3)

Table 8

Survey Question #7 Have You Ever Engaged in Bullying Other Children?

Respondent YES NO Declined to State

All Students (148) 53.38% 45.95% 0.68%

Female (75) 56% 44% 0%

Male (70) 51.43% 47.14% 1.43%

Declined to Indicate 33.33% 66.67% 0%


Gender (3)
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Table 9

Survey Question #8 If YES, How Often do You Bully Other Children?

Respondent RARELY SOMETIMES OFTEN ALWAYS Declined


to State
All Students 56.96% 30.38% 10.13% 2.53% 0%
(148)

Female (75) 55.81% 30.23% 11.63% 2.33% 0%

Male (70) 57.14% 31.43% 8.57% 2.86% 0%

Declined to 100% 0% 0% 0% 0%
Indicate Gender
(3)

Table 10

Survey Question #9 Have You Ever Bullied Anyone on the Internet or Using Your
Cell Phone?

Respondent YES NO Declined to State

All Students (148) 15.54% 82.43% 2.03%

Female (75) 18.67% 81.33% 1.33%

Male (70) 12.86% 84.29% 1.43%

Declined to Indicate 0% 66.67% 33.33%


Gender (3)
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Table 11

Survey Question #10 If YES, How Often?

Respondent RARELY SOMETIMES OFTEN ALWAYS Declined


to State
All Students 60.87% 17.39% 8.70% 13.04% 0%
(148)

Female (75) 57.14% 28.57% 0% 14.29% 0%

Male (70) 75% 0% 25% 0% 0%

Declined to 60% 0% 20% 20% 0%


Indicate
Gender (3)

Table 12

Survey Question #12 Do You Think People Would Still be as Likely to Bully Other
People on the Internet if it Wasnt so Anonymous?

Respondent YES NO Declined to State

All Students (148) 40.54% 55.41% 4.05%

Female (75) 41.33% 56% 2.67%

Male (70) 41.43% 54.29% 4.29%

Declined to Indicate 0% 66.67% 33.33%


Gender (3)
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Table 13

Survey Question #21 Do Your Parents Monitor Your Internet Activity and Cell
Phone Use?

Respondent YES NO Declined to State

All Students (148) 52.70% 45.27% 2.03%

Female (75) 62.67% 36% 1.33%

Male (70) 44.29% 52.86% 2.86%

Declined to Indicate 0% 100% 0%


Gender (3)

Table 14

Survey Question #22 If YES, How Often?

Respondent RARELY SOMETIMES OFTEN ALWAYS Declined


to State
All Students 26.92% 30.77% 19.23% 23.08% 0%
(148)

Female (75) 29.79% 31.91% 21.28% 17.02% 0%

Male (70) 22.58% 29.03% 16.13% 32.26% 0%

Declined to 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
Indicate
Gender (3)
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Table 15

Survey Question #23 Would You Like Your Parents to be More Involved With Your
Use of Technology?

Respondent YES NO Declined to State

All Students (148) 12.84% 77.03% 10.14%

Female (75) 13.33% 80% 6.67%

Male (70) 12.86% 74.29% 12.86%

Declined to Indicate 0% 66.67% 33.33%


Gender (3)

Response of School Authorities to Bullying Problem

A large majority of all the students surveyed indicated that, not only does their

school indeed have a bullying problem, but that their teachers and administrators do

not do a good job dealing with it. Although both genders were in agreement with this

assessment, the percentage of girls who assessed their schools as having a bullying

problem and the school authorities as doing a poor job dealing with it was quite a bit

higher than the boys (see Tables 16, 17). And whereas the percentage of all the

students surveyed who indicated that bullying is a part of school that they have to deal

with was almost identical to the percentage of all students who answered that question

in the negative, the percentage of females who saw bullying as a part of school they

have no choice but to face was a few points higher than the percentage of boys who

felt the same way (see Table 18).


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Table 16

Survey Question #18 Does Your School Have a Bullying Problem?

Respondent YES NO Declined to State

All Students (148) 60.81% 35.14% 4.05%

Female (75) 66.67% 30.67% 2.67%

Male (70) 55.71% 40% 4.29%

Declined to Indicate 33.33% 33.33% 33.33%


Gender (3)

Table 17

Survey Question #19 Do You Think the Teachers and Administrators at Your School
do a Good Job Dealing With Bullying Problems?

Respondent YES NO Declined to State

All Students (148) 37.16% 60.14% 2.70%

Female (75) 32% 64% 4%

Male (70) 41.43% 57.14% 1.43%

Declined to Indicate 66.67% 33.33% 0%


Gender (3)
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Table 18

Survey Question #24 Do You See Bullying as Just a Normal Part of School That You
Have to Deal With?

Respondent YES NO Declined to State

All Students (148) 43.92% 43.24% 12.84%

Female (75) 46.67% 42.67% 10.67%

Male (70) 41.43% 45.71% 12.86%

Declined to Indicate 33.33% 0% 66.67%


Gender (3)

The quantitative data, gathered and analyzed through the students responses to

the 11 yes or no questions and the 6 frequency questions answered on a Likert Scale,

shows that cyber-bullying is a problem that middle school students witness,

experience, and are concerned with, but not as often as traditional schoolyard bullying.

The survey respondents believe that the anonymous nature of the Internet contributes

to the frequency of online bullying, but would like their parents to monitor their

Internet activity and cell phone use less. The other quantitative findings indicate that

the students perceive their schools to have a bullying problem and believe that the

response of their teachers and school officials is lacking.

Quantitative Data: Gender Differences in Bullying

According to the quantitative data produced in response to the yes or no and

frequency questions regarding gender, a very large majority of all the students

surveyed, including within each distinct gender category, believe that gender
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differences in bullying do exist (see Table 19). In other words, boys bully others

differently than girls bully others. In addition, the quantitative data in regard to gender

indicates that most students agree that boys bully girls and girls bully boys only rarely

or sometimes (see Table 20). Although it does happen, cross-gender bullying is rare.

Table 19

Survey Question #14 Do You Think Boys Bully Others Differently Than Girls Bully?

Respondent YES NO Declined to State

All Students (148) 79.73% 18.92% 1.35%

Female (75) 82.67% 16% 1.33%

Male (70) 75.71% 22.86% 1.43%

Declined to Indicate 100% 0% 0%


Gender (3)

Table 20

Survey Question #17 How Likely is it That Boys Bully Girls or Girls Bully Boys?

Respondent RARELY SOMETIMES OFTEN ALWAYS Declined


to State
All Students 34.50% 39.19% 14.86% 8.78% 2.70%
(148)

Female (75) 25.33% 37.84% 20.27% 14.86% 1.35%

Male (70) 43.66% 39.44% 9.86% 2.82% 4.23%

Declined to 33.33% 66.67% 0% 0% 0%


Indicate
Gender (3)
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Qualitative Data

A number of themes materialized as the qualitative data was inspected and

analyzed. In reviewing the eight open-ended questions in which respondents provided

their own narratives, distinct patterns emerged in the participants responses. Many

had very similar responses regarding the questions having to do with typical

personality traits of bullies and bullying victims, specific reasons for bullying

incidents, repercussions of bullying, ideas for bullying prevention and intervention,

and gender differences in bullying.

Typical Personality Traits of Bullies

The study participants were asked, What are some words you would use to

describe bullies? A clear pattern appeared in the students narrative responses,

indicating cruelty was definitely a personality characteristic of a typical bully. In fact,

cruelty was the number one response by far to the question of what words students

would use to describe bullies. The word mean was used again and again in their

written descriptions. A sampling of the students standard responses:

Theyre mean, evil.

They take out their rage on innocent kids to feel better.

Mean, thinks theyre all that, wants attention

Mean, jealous, rude, pushy, bossy, and full of drama.

Rude people who have no life who get a kick out of other peoples pain

Theyre mean, theyre cruel, harsh and cold hearted

They are mean, aggressive.


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Mean, always angry, has feelings left inside so they take it all on other people,

and dont know why they wanted to hit us maybe just for fun.

Violent, mean, unjust, cruel

Rude, dont like the way they are, or think they are tough

Mean, hurt, bored, needs something to do.

Rude, miserable, inconsiderate, condescending

They are very rude. I guess they think its funny to see people sad or get

hurt.

Mean, narrow minded, disrespectful, coward.

In addition to the theme of cruelty (meanness), the narratives above show that many

survey respondents believed that bullies are typically mad or angry, aggressive and

violent, hurt people because of their own feelings of pain, disrespectful, bored, and

think theyre cool and/or tough.

Typical Personality Traits of Bullying Victims

When the students were asked, If you have been the victim or target of a

bully, why do you think he/she chose you to bully? the answers overwhelmingly fell

into the category of weakness or small physical stature. The students obviously

perceived vulnerability (physical and/or emotional) as a trait that bullies typically

notice and prey on. A sampling of the participants common responses:

I think he chose me to bully because he thinks that I cant tell the teacher.

I think he picked me to be bullied because he knew because I was 9 and he

was 13 so he knew he could beat me up.


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I think she chose cause I was the new kid.

I think a bully picked on me, because they know I wont tell and stand up for

myself.

They would think that the target would be weak and cant defend

themselves.

Because maybe you weak, or you have no friends.

He did not like me. He did not know his own strength.

Yes, I feel like I was a target because Im quiet. Dont speak up. So Im a

perfect target.

They chose me to bully me because I am smaller than everyone else and I

cant do anything about it.

Apparently bullies often take advantage of victims simply because theyre younger,

smaller, or weaker in some way.

According to the survey respondents, another personality trait bullying victims

have in common is that theyre considered culturally or socially different from their

peers at school. A sampling of the respondents answers pertaining to bullying victims

being perceived as different:

He chose me as a target because of my race and shoes.

They chose me because of my weight and that he said Ill never get a

boyfriend because I am ugly.

If someone bullied me they probably bullied me because of my religion


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Because it is certain people that dont like me just because Im Ukrainian, and

they think Ukrainians are stupid.

Because Im so nice and people think Im weird and geeky

I think she/he chose me to bully is because I am not like other people and act

different.

Im small, I speak a different language.

If I got bullied They probably chose me because I dont want to be like

them.

Illustrated in the narratives above, the various areas in which students are often

considered different are race or nationality, religion, physical appearance, and just

acting differently than their classmates, but these are only some examples of the many

ways in which students can be perceived as different and bullied as a result.

Specific Reasons for Bullying Incidents

A third and final trend emerged from the answers produced by the students in

response to the survey question, If you have been the victim or target of a bully, why

do you think he/she chose you to bully? This trend indicated that middle school

students who have been bullied often believe the bullying comes as a result of

something specific they did, either to the actual bullies themselves or just something

the bullies heard about via rumors. A sampling of the respondents average answers in

regard to this trend:

She chose me to bully because I heard that I stole her friend but I didnt and

her friend just want to hang with me.


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She chose me because, when we had a little incident at a party. So she started

texting me very mean text messages.

When Ive been bullied I think that he/she didnt like me because how I

looked or acted like.

They choose me because I told on them about what happened in the past and

they still havent forgave me yet.

They chose me because they thought I liked the person.

I think she bullied me because she thought I didnt like her best friend.

Because Im pretty! Aha Naa, If Someone did it would be because of a stupid

Roumer (how ever you spell that) and Nothing More.

I think I was bullied because she heard a rumor that wasnt true or just doesnt

agree with anything I say"

Because I had things that she didnt have. And people that she had a crush on,

liked me instead.

She thought I talked behind her back. She also talked about my family.

Maybe because you are more successful than them and they are mad for the

choices they made about how they live their life.

Because of what other say to them or because when I or someone tells them a

joke about them they take it seriously towards you.

Well in 6th grade this girl Samantha wrote stuff on the internet that wasnt true

and constantly threatened to beat me up after school. I think she was jealous

that I had friends that were her friends.


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It seems apparent that many students believe theyre being bullied in retaliation for

some (real or perceived) wrong they perpetrated on their fellow classmates, either the

bullies themselves or otherwise. This belief may come with the feeling that it is the

students own fault for being in the bullying predicament and therefore cant do

anything to stop it or seek help from trusted adults.

Repercussions of Bullying

Although several significant themes arose from the students responses to the

survey question, What kinds of problems do students who are bullied have to deal

with?, the number one response had to do with the emotional pain that bullied

students have to go through. A sampling of the students standard responses:

People making fun of them and them feeling bad and sad. They feel small and

they grow up thinking its their fault.

Being sad, feel like they arent good enough

Being teased, not having self-confidence. It makes them feel bad

When people keep saying bad things you feel bad and start to believe it

I think they have anger issues.

Psychological problems, broken bones, a lot of crying depression, always

wanting to be alone, bad grades, Insecurity.

Pain, miserable

Put downs, sadness, ashamed

They will have to deal with being embarrassed by he/she friends. They will

feel sad and depressed.


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They have to deal with being called rude names and being hurt emotionally

by someone.

Pain, words that hurt them, tears

The survey responses above illustrate the myriad negative emotions students can

typically feel when they are the victims of a bully. These hurtful feelings include

sadness, misery, self-blame, lack of self-confidence, insecurity, anger, embarrassment,

depression, isolation, and shame.

In addition to the emotional pain victims of bullying usually have to suffer

through, there is the specter of physical danger, pain, and injury as well. Physical

danger can take several forms, including getting beat up at school, self mutilation,

thoughts and attempts of suicide, and the perpetuation of the cycle of bullying when

bullied students aim to seek revenge against their harassers. A sampling of the

respondents answers pertaining to the physical danger inherent in bullying:

They have to deal with bullies hitting them and messing with them every

day.

Get beat up and called names.

Pain! Horrible Horrible pain!!! And racism

Being emo and cutting themselves and bad parents

They get beat up a lot so they get like scared more easily. Some kids might

get super depressed of their appearance so they might kill themselves

The problems are: getting teased, getting pushed, wanting to die, having

problems, and not wanting to be at school.


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Sadness, Mad, Thinking Theyre going to kill Their selfs.

Being alone all the time, suicide, depression.

Embarrassment, having no friends, depression, suicide my friends friend

killed himself because of bullying!

They have to deal with being scared, having no friends because of rumors,

you feel angry and want to get revenge.

Maybe they get depressed, grades go down like what happens to me I am

always bullied so thats why I bully the people back.

I wouldnt know. I stopped the person that bullied meI punched him in the

face

Suicide, killing or harming others. affects you as an adult.

As alluded to in the narrative above, when bullied students turn their shame and anger

at being bullied toward others, it is not always just about the students wanting to get

back at their particular bully. The aggressive and violent behavior modeled for them

by the bullies can teach victims that aggression and violence are not only appropriate,

but also sometimes beneficial, ways to relate to their peers. The rage built up inside

bullying victims can cause them to lash out at anybody, not just the specific bullies

who harassed them.

Another pattern found in the students responses to the survey question, What

kinds of problems do students who are bullied have to deal with? is related to the first

two trends (emotional pain and physical danger) that emerged from the narratives in
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response to the same question. That pattern is comprised of fear, intimidation, and

threats. A sampling of the students narratives in regard to this pattern:

I had to try to suck it in and not tell because the bully would hit me more.

Having someone push them punch, being kicked, so they probably always

hide.

Coming to school scared of that person, or maybe walking home and seeing

them. Also it affects the people they hang out with. (this wasnt me but friends

of mine)

Being bullied they probably have problems feeling secure/safe at school, and

they probably have problems facing up to their parents and telling them

Pressure, stress, depression

Threats, scaredness, often wanting to stay home forever.

I think students who are bullied have to deal with, worrying if theyre gonna

get bullied every day.

Watching out for the bully and stress.

One problem might be theyre scared. They might also be more scared to tell

a teacher they are bullying.

If I were bullied I will be very worried and try to look out for myself.

So although milder bullying behaviors may not always escalate into physical

aggression or violence, the threat that it might often causes bullied students much

preoccupation, stress, and fear.


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A lack of meaningful friendships and the subsequent interference of healthy

social development is another theme that arose from the participants narratives in

response to the question pertaining to possible repercussions of bullying. A sampling

of their answers:

They have to deal with people encouraging them to fight, if the bully has

more friends they might be shunned.

It makes them feels they are the only person, it makes them feel bad

They have to deal with the constant name calling and the mean things they do.

Also they always get excluded

Injuries mentally & physically, no friends, bad social life, depressed

Lots of problems, because you feel alone, and people outside of you are

laughing and bullying. Its like youre in the middle of the circle and people

are outside of you laughing.

They have to be isolated to not get beat up or get the feelings hurt

Having little friends.

Theyre probably always left out.

Social problems and they dont focus on their work

They get made fun of a lot for being bullied. They dont really have friends or

real friends.

Their life, friends, school, family.


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I think he/she will have problems at home because he will come home really

hurt with a bruise or something and he will be too scared to say who did it.

They have to deal with family problems about bullied at school.

The last three narratives on the list above indicate that students who are bullied and

have problems with friendships as a result often also have problems with their families

at home.

A final theme that arose from the students answers to the survey question,

What kinds of problems do students who are bullied have to deal with? is built on

the probable likelihood that bullied students have to contend with more obstacles to

their academic enjoyment and success than their peers who are not bullied. A

sampling of their responses regarding bullied students possible problems with

academics:

They have to work twice as hard

They have to deal with them hitting them and probably cant concentrate

because they have to worry about people bullying them.

The distraction of bad words in your mind

They have problems at school with people that they dont like.

They probably do bad in school and cry all the time

I dont know but probably school, home, Friends, therapy, medicine,

depression

The problems they have to deal with is people not liking them, bad grades, get

depressed.
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One problem is that they dont do well at school because they are scared.

They have to deal with getting hurt, it makes them not want to come to

school, because theyre embarrassed.

The narratives above make it clear that students believe that academic troubles can

often be a serious repercussion of bullying. Specific issues they pinpointed as

hindrances to effective learning and doing well in school are attendance problems,

lack of ability to concentrate, and being overwhelmed by fear and sadness at school.

Prevention and Intervention

The survey asked the students, If you think schools need to do more to deal

with bullying problems, what ideas would you give them? Their written responses

showed that the students have many suggestions for educators regarding the

prevention and intervention of bullying, but two trends in particular stood out in the

narratives. The responses were pretty evenly divided between two opposing

viewpoints on prevention and intervention, the first category being better monitoring

and protection of students on campus along with stricter punishments for bullies. A

sampling of the narratives suggesting more campus monitoring:

Have more yard duties and watch out for the kids that always get bullied.

One idea I would give them is to watch over more often not just at the

blacktop but on the soccer field too.

Cameras and voice recorders in every room, more adults in class watching

and outside, everyone gets a private ride home, police at school

Having more campus monitors


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My idea is to put more adults at recess to take care of the kids.

They should protect the kids who are being bullied more.

Looking around more and if theres a big crowd go see what it is all about.

Have people everywhere to see everything

Have more teachers during passing period and mostly after school

To pay attention! Instead of just the yard duties walking around!

I will tell them to watch carefully. Have more than 2 people by the

bathrooms.

Start having more cameras throughout the school so the office knows what

the students are doing all the time.

If its really bad have their teachers walk them class to class.

A sampling of the narratives suggesting harsh punitive measures for bullies:

I would tell them that they need to give worse consequences.

Instant suspension.

I dont think they do a good job handling it well. The ideas that I would give

them is, separate them, change their schedule.

Teachers should not ignore problems. Harsh punishments.

Send the bullies to jail for three days.

They need to take away recess, put bullies in detention, and call parents.

Tell them to suspend them for 15 days and when they come back and they

fight again, expel them.

Transfer the bully to another school district.


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Send them to the office, get them in trouble

They could give the students a huge consequence until they listen and dont

bully anybody anymore.

Do more about it. They usually just tell the bullies to stop but that doesnt

work. they should suspend them.

To take it much more seriously. Or to make sure the person who bullied

actually gets a consequence for every fight.

Send the kids home! Yell at them! Give them referrals or put them on dots!

Switch their lunches!

To punish them really badly like to take away everything they want, and keep

them in a separate room to learn all by themselves.

Based on their responses, it is obvious that many students do not feel safe on their own

school campuses and feel let down by the adults who are responsible for caring about

them enough to make protecting them a top school priority. The students also seem to

feel that the teachers and administrators at their schools largely let school bullies get

away with their destructive behavior.

On the other end of the spectrum, the second of the two opposing student

viewpoints on school bullying prevention and intervention is the necessity for more

attention paid to the victims of bullies. Students whose responses fell into this category

would like their school officials to place a much stronger emphasis on mediation and

conflict resolution, focusing on the underlying reasons for the bullying incidents. A
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sampling of the narratives suggesting a more therapeutic approach to preventing and

intervening in school bullying:

I would say if teachers saw something wrong with a kid ask them whats

wrong, give advice.

Well sometimes instead of teachers waiting for the victim to come to you or a

fight happens & the victim is already in danger, the teachers should have the

bully listen to the students & get rid of the rumors.

Just keep an open eye out and if a person says I am being bullied, help em.

Separate them and maybe talk to them instead of getting them in trouble.

The teachers could ask why the bully is bullying you or they can ask the bully

if anything is wrong in his life.

A therapist!

Teach student discipline

Actually pay attention to people that arent always the center of attention.

Speak one-on-one with each student and have them make up.

Put bullies in counseling. Bullies shouldnt just get a warning because that

isnt going to make them stop.

Be nice to other kids, talk with them, ask them questions.

Listen to both sides of the story, dont use angry voices or looks, think about

what you would do if you were our age!

To not just let it go and find out the source of it.

The teachers and principal can try and find out who it is and why.
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Let them see how theyre making other people feel and if they dont change

make them spend a week in on-site

Tell their parents at a parent teacher conference

I think they should tell how it started and get witnesses to help.

Give rewards to people who dont bully

I think that schools should hire counselors to help out the bullies.

Tell them instead of bullying, they should leave and go make something in

art.

The narrative responses above show that the students in the conflict resolution camp

believe that constructive discussions among the victims, bullies, teachers,

administrators, counselors, and parents are at least the first step that should be taken

when dealing with school bullying problems. The students whose responses fell into

this category want both sides afforded the opportunity to be heard without an

immediate rush to judgment, responsible and caring adults to be involved, and an

effective solution implemented fairly and compassionately.

Several significant patterns and themes came out as the qualitative data in the

form of open-ended survey questions was examined. A large number of respondents

produced strikingly similar narratives in their responses to the queries particularly

regarding characteristic traits of bullies and victims of bullies, perceived reasons for

bullying incidents, the negative repercussions of bullying, suggestions for intervening

on and preventing school bullying, and gender differences in bullying.


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Qualitative Data: Gender Differences in Bullying

The research survey had two open-ended questions that asked specifically

about the typical bullying behaviors of each gender. The first question was, How do

you think boys usually bully others? The second question asked, How do you think

girls usually bully others? A number of themes arose within both gender categories as

the qualitative data in regard to gender was evaluated, indicating primarily that most

students observe distinct gender differences in bullying. The most common theme in

relation to boy bullying was boys mainly employing methods that involve physical

harm and humiliation, whereas the pattern mentioned most often in regard to girl

bullying was the emotional pain and relational aggression that girls inflict on one

another. Another popular trend that emerged from the qualitative data regarding

gender was the assertion that bullying among boys is overt, in contrast to the hidden

nature of bullying among girls.

Typical Behaviors of Boy Bullies

When the study participants were asked, How do you think boys usually bully

others? an overwhelmingly majority cited physical fighting as the most common

form of boy bullying. Over and over again, the words physical and fight appeared

in their written descriptions of how boys usually bully. A sampling of the students

standard responses:

Harshly

Cause boys are more physical.

They touch us with their hands on our face, roughly.


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Push, cuss, & punch

By putting the other kid in the locker or trash can. They would also beat them

up.

I think that the boys talk bad and start fights and violent.

They hit and kill sometimes and anger. Boys get aggressive and get meaner

and meaner until they can hurt whoever they want.

Boys usually bully others by knocking their book on the ground.

They yell or push, maybe sometimes threaten too. Boys are tougher on the

boys if they are in the process of bullying.

They might punch, kick, or just beat up the other person or wedgies.

When boys are bullies they surround you and call you names and they would

tell you what to do and they might even hit you very hard.

They fight, make threats, and maybe make them bleed.

I think boys drag them somewhere and bully them or if they run away the

bully might cyber-bully them.

Fighting, throwing people in trash cans and putting heads in toilets, and tying

you to the toilet seats

They bully more harder and tougher. With so much force.

Pain, injuring physically

The physical aggression, fighting, and violence that the students pointed to as the most

common type of bullying behavior among boys takes many forms, including pushing,

hitting, punching, kicking, and beating up. In addition to these direct types of physical
86

harassment, bullying perpetrated by boys often encompasses milder or more indirect

forms of violence as well, such as yelling, cussing, stuffing victims in lockers or

garbage cans, surrounding, ganging up, and making threats.

Another theme that emerged from the responses to the survey question

pertaining to how boys typically bully has less to do with physical aggression and

contact and more to do with a pattern of emotional torment. It includes relentless

teasing, name-calling, pranks, and humiliation. Below is a sampling of the students

narratives in regard to this pattern:

They beat up others and say nasty words.

Mean comments, fighting, pranks

Beat up, cuss, humiliate

Fight, embarrass them, be rude.

They usually fight each other and say things to their faces

They usually tease with mean jokes, hurt, and embarrass others when

bullying.

They call them names and they hit them and laugh about it.

They always cuss at each other, they know what to say. They say anything

that comes into their minds.

By threatening to fight, trying to make them look stupid

Boys usually tease about girls and sometimes pull pranks.

Boys usually bully others by trying to hit you or make fun of you
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Call them mean names in front of each other, call them fat, pick on other

people

Name calling, violence, teasing, steal things

By talking about the way they look or the way they are.

They hurt them and do other things to them that hurts their feelings.

Although this pattern of emotional bullying among boys does not necessarily involve

physical aggression, it is still an overt, direct form of bullying. It is not hidden. The

harassment is right up in the victims faces and clearly visible for anyone to witness. It

is also interesting to note that many of the students comments related to emotional

bullying among boys contain references to physical bullying as well. Apparently it is

difficult to separate the two methods (physical and emotional) when looking at

bullying that occurs between boys.

Several survey respondents answered the question about how boys usually

bully others by directly comparing the behavior of boy bullies to that of girl bullies.

Although some students indicated that both boys and girls bully in the same or similar

ways (They do it the same as the girls.), most of these direct comparisons followed

the trend that had been established by the other descriptions of boy bullying, that it

typically involves different types of behaviors than girl bullying. A sampling of these

responses:

When boys are bullies, they usually hurt more than girls.

They fight and say curse words more than girls.


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The boys do more bad stuff to the other people because boys are more angrier

and aggressive than girls.

Boys bully others differently because boys are much stronger than girls so

they use violence. Im not saying all boys but the majority does.

Meaner than girls words and physical actions

Just by fighting straight up instead of spreading rumors like girls

The comments above reiterate the theme previously laid out in the students narratives

in response to the survey question, How do you think boys usually bully others? The

students confirmed their belief that boy bullying is differentiated from girl bullying

most pointedly by the physical aggression and direct, overt nature of bullying among

boys.

Typical Behaviors of Girl Bullies

Of all the qualitative data analyzed for this research study, the responses to the

survey question pertaining to how girls typically bully generated the highest number

of response patterns by far. Although these trends that appeared in the students

narratives represent distinct and specific types of bullying behaviors among girls, they

almost all fall into the category of behavior that causes emotional harm of some sort to

the victims. The specific methods of emotional bullying that surfaced in the responses

most often include hurtful language (in a variety of contexts), rumors/gossip, group

bullying and social isolation, and cyber-bullying. Another pattern that emerged from

the responses having to do with girl bullying is the perception among students that

bullying involving girls is not that worrisome of a problem. In their answers to the
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survey question, How do you think girls usually bully others?, many students also

made direct comparisons to how boys typically bully. Although most comparisons

posited that girl bullying and boy bullying are quite different, there were also a fair

number of students who stated that physical bullying has become just as common

among girls as it is with boys.

The response pattern that appeared the most under the umbrella of bullying

behavior between girls that causes emotional harm is hurtful language. Examples of

specific behaviors in this category include mean comments (often directed at the

victims appearance), name-calling, criticism, ridicule and teasing intended to

embarrass the victim, and intimidation. A sampling of these types of responses:

Cuss, rude comments, tease them

By making fun of the clothes and the jewelry that they have, and the

handwriting.

I think girls usually bully others is by talking mean, criticize, and talk bad

about how they dress up.

Girls will say bad words and destroy important things you care about.

When girls usually bully by telling everybody that she is a weird person.

Harmful words.

When girls are bullies they threaten others and call them all types of bad

names that can hurt that persons feelings.

They just call mean things and say stuff about your physical body like youre

fat.
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Argue about boys

They put down others, and they are very rude, they rarely get physical

Girls bully each other by making fun of their appearance.

They bully mentally, they do smirks, try to embarrass people

Talking crap about others, fighting?, and lots of drama

We know exactly what to say so we just say things.

So whereas boys bully primarily using methods that cause physical harm, the main

weapons in a typical girl bullys arsenal are different types of hurtful language that

cause emotional harm.

A second trend that emerged from the qualitative data regarding how girls

bully is spreading rumors, gossiping, and creating drama. Many of the survey

respondents provided narratives explaining that, based on their experiences and

observations, one of the most common ways girls emotionally bully each other is by

spreading rumors about and causing drama between other girls. It doesnt usually

matter to the bullies whether or not the rumors are even true. Below is a sampling of

the students narratives in regard to this trend:

They gossip about each other behind their backs until it gets to the person

they are talking about.

Spread rumors, talking trash, and put downs

When girls are bullies they would call you names and say rumors that are not

true and its about you and your friends.

Gossiping which hurts more, dragged on for longer periods of time


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Theyre saying drama.

They tell out each others secrets and they throw food at each other

They will pass notes, talk behind their backs

Talking crap about others, starting rumors at school, and lots of drama

Girls bully differently by spreading rumors about each other and talking about

just because they dont like them without even getting to know them.

The trend of spreading rumors, gossiping, and perpetuating drama is a perfect example

of how girls bully in a much more covert way than boys do. Rather than confront their

targets directly, girl bullies often cause problems in the victims social circles from

behind the scenes, concocting untrue and hurtful stories and letting the ensuing drama

play out to the detriment of the victims.

Another pattern found in the students responses to the survey question, How

do you think girls usually bully others?, is related to the first two trends (hurtful

language and rumors/gossip) that emerged from the narratives in response to the same

question. That pattern is comprised of group bullying and the social isolation of

victims. A sampling of the students narratives in regard to this pattern:

They could keep other girls out of the girls bathroom or kick them out of a

friend group

Usually just tell lies about them and/or try to make them feel left out. I have

seem people glare at others, they tell their friends lies or other people.

Being mean, talking crap behind peoples back, make other people feel like

outsiders
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Excluded, steal things, name calling, violence

I think girls just fight as in not talking to each other

Calling the target through phone, Internet. And calling them names. Also

getting people to beat up the target.

I think they use other girls to do their homework or trash talk.

Say mean things, daring to hit them.

Girls bully each other by trapping you, telling you things, and just fighting.

Girls will just tell friends or make a big deal.

They just say what they want and if you dont give them that shell tell her

friends and gather up on you and do whatever.

Girls also fight each other. They backstab you. Say rude remarks, etc.

I think they make other people tell the other girl.

The pattern of group bullying and isolation of victims illustrated in the narratives

above include other hallmarks of bullying among girls as well, such as bullies

interfering in friend groups, using intermediaries to do their dirty work, and talking

badly about victims behind their backs rather than to their faces.

A final trend in the category of girl bullying behaviors that cause emotional

harm to the victims, cyber-bullying, appeared in the narrative responses to the survey

question, How do you think girls usually bully others? The two specific methods of

cyber-bullying mentioned most often in the narratives are hurtful texts and posting

negative comments about victims online. A sampling of these types of narratives:


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Text stuff about people

Girls usually will argue, spread rumors, or cyberbullying, and they dont get

over it.

Phones, internet

I think girls would just call people names, post bad things about them, maybe

tell everybody that you like somebody when you dont, or just keep making

fun of you.

Maybe by talking and maybe fighting, texting.

Girls bully by words like bad ones and cyber bully.

When girls bully they all say bad words or mostly cyber-bully someone.

Internet, cell phone

They also talk about them, post stuff about them on the internet & sometimes

fight.

Girls are sorta the same but girls use the internet to hurt someone

It is noteworthy that out of the 148 middle school students surveyed in this research

study, only one person mentioned cyber-bullying in any form in response to the open-

ended question about how boys typically bully, as opposed to the many students who

cited cyber-bullying as a common method of bullying among girls.

Another pattern that emerged from the responses having to do with girl

bullying is the perception among students that bullying involving girls is not that

worrisome of a problem. Students seemed to imply that in comparison to the issue of

boy bullying, bullying among girls is not that big of a deal. The survey respondents
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narratives show that girl bullying is often taken much less seriously than boy bullying,

perhaps because bullying among girls tends to be less physical. A sampling of the

narratives making this point:

Girls bully each other not that tougher and not with too much force.

Less aggressive.

Sometimes becomes your best friend

They dont

I really havent seen girl bullying.

Not too bad

Girls dont really hurt when they bully. They might hurt your feelings a little

but they probably wont hurt them physically.

Then they usually become friends after that.

The survey respondents answers to the question, How do you think girls usually

bully others? allude to the possibility that although girl bullying does exist, it is

perceived as less serious of a problem than boy bullying because it is often hidden and

therefore ignored by school administrators, teachers, parents, and sometimes even the

students themselves.

Many students answered the open-ended question about how girls usually

bully others by comparing the behavior of girl bullies directly to that of boy bullies.

Although some respondents indicated that both girls and boys bully in the same or

similar ways (The same thing as boys.), most of these direct comparisons followed

the trend that had been established by the other descriptions of girl bullying, that it
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typically involves different types of behaviors than boy bullying. A sampling of these

responses:

They pull hair and scratch. They only rarely kill but they dont get as

aggressive as other boys.

They dont fight, and say nasty words as much as boys.

Nicer than boys, only by words

When girls are bullies, they dont give more damage than boys.

It is interesting to note that although the above comments establish a pattern of

thought among students that girls do bully differently than boys do, they also suggest

that even though girls use physical methods to bully less than boys do, girls do employ

physical violence as a means to bully others as well. The physicality of the bullying

perpetrated by girls is distinct from boy bullying only by degree, not by the fact that it

doesnt happen at all.

According to the middle school students surveyed for this research study,

differences in the ways each gender typically bullies definitely exist, but in addition to

the emotional and relational methods common in girl bullying, physical bullying is

now a major problem among girls too. A sampling of the students narratives in regard

to this pattern:

Ive seen them pull each others hair and cat fighting.

They might pull each others hair, or beat each other up.

They pull their hair, slap, hit their arms.

They kick, pinch, punch, and threaten the victim.


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I think girls bully others by smacking them.

Girls usually bully others by pulling hair, pushing, slapping, or knocking

people to the ground.

Girls scream and do little things like pinch, kick, hit them with a soccer ball.

The students narratives in regard to the marked increase of physical bullying among

girls describe several of the specific ways in which girls physically bully each other,

most often citing hair pulling, pinching, slapping, and kicking. Again, the precise

manner of physical bullying carried out by girls may be different from the typical

physical bullying perpetrated by boys, but only by degree.

Conclusion

In this research study, the data was gathered and analyzed using both

quantitative and qualitative techniques. Utilizing a cross-sectional survey with 6 Likert

Scale, 11 yes or no, and 8 open-ended questions, statistical data and narrative

responses were collected. The Likert Scale used for the frequency questions and the

yes or no questions were the foundation for the quantitative data. The students

narratives provided in answer to the open-ended questions defined the qualitative data.

Because one of the main areas of interest in the study encompassed gender issues in

relation to bullying, the statistical data was categorized into male and female survey

respondents and the narrative data described both general and gender-specific

findings.

The most significant quantitative findings were in the area of cyber-bullying.

This data addressed particular issues such as how often students experience and
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witness traditional schoolyard and cyber-bullying, the effect of the anonymity of the

Internet on cyber-bullying, and parent involvement in their childrens use of

technology. In summary, the findings in these areas show that schoolyard bullying is

still perceived as more of a problem than cyber-bullying, students would be less likely

to bully online if not for the anonymous nature of the Internet, and middle school

students do not want their parents to monitor their use of technology any more than

they already do. The other quantitative findings indicate that the students believe their

schools have bullying problems but that school authorities do not do a good job

dealing with them. The quantitative data specific to gender issues in bullying point out

that boys bully each other differently than girls do and cross-gender bullying is rare.

In the case of this particular research study, the raw qualitative data took the

form of narrative answers provided by the students in response to the open-ended

survey questions. Using a thematic approach, the trends and patterns that emerged

from the narrative data were documented and examined. Many common themes

materialized as the qualitative data was analyzed. Similar thematic responses were

found, especially in the answers to the questions related to typical characteristics of

bullies and their victims, perceived reasons for specific bullying incidents, negative

repercussions of bullying, ideas for bullying prevention and intervention, and gender

differences in bullying. In regard to common personality traits among bullies and

among victims, the survey respondents indicated that bullies are often cruel, angry,

and aggressive, while victims of bullying usually portray physical and emotional

weakness and/or are considered culturally or socially different. Bullied students also
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seem to believe that they are somehow responsible for the bullying incidents because

of something they did. The surveyed students indicated that victims of bullying may

have to face a myriad of negative repercussions, such as emotional pain and fear,

physical injury (including suicide), social difficulties, and academic problems. And in

terms of the prevention of and intervention in school bullying, the qualitative data

showed that students ideas in this area fall into one of two schools of thought: better

monitoring and protection of students on campus along with stricter punishments for

bullies versus a stronger emphasis on mediation and conflict resolution, focusing on

the underlying reasons for the bullying behavior.

In the responses to the survey questions, How do you think boys usually bully

others? and How do you think girls usually bully others? the qualitative data also

addresses the typical bullying behaviors of each gender. The most common theme in

relation to boy bullying was that boys mainly employ overt methods that involve

physical harm and humiliation, whereas the pattern mentioned most often in regard to

girl bullying was the covert nature of the emotional pain and relational aggression that

girls inflict on one another, using techniques such as hurtful language, rumors/gossip,

group bullying and social isolation, and cyber-bullying. Another pattern that emerged

from the qualitative data is the perception among students that bullying involving girls

is not as worrisome of a problem as boy bullying (although many students did assert

that physical bullying among girls has become just as prevalent as among boys).
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Chapter 5

DISCUSSION, LIMITATIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, CONCLUSION

Discussion

Quantitative Findings Cyber-Bullying

One of the primary reasons cyber-bullying has become so prevalent among our

adolescent population is the largely anonymous nature of the Internet. Anyone can

post online whatever they want about anybody they want, and the owner of the post

can remain virtually undetectable. It doesnt matter if the information is completely

fabricated, only partially true, or totally factual. If it is true, it doesnt matter if the

person or people the information is about consider it private or not. Anyone can post

anything they want online, and they can do it completely anonymously. Perhaps that

explains why so many bullies now prefer to do their bullying online.

Over 55% of the students surveyed for this research study believe that people

would not be as likely to bully other people on the Internet if it wasnt so anonymous.

The anonymity afforded cyber-bullies makes them particularly dangerous because the

victims cant confront the situation head-on and at least attempt to resolve it.

According to Willard (2007), cyber-bullyings particular salient features (including its

anonymity) potentially make it even more dangerous than traditional bullying. Shariff

(2008) also includes anonymity on his list of the specific characteristics of cyber-

bullying that bring with them an enormous potential for harm. The other harmful

characteristics on his list are an infinite audience, prevalent sexual and homophobic
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harassment, permanence of expression, and the immense popularity of social

networking Web sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and MySpace.

A large majority of the students in this study, however, reported that traditional

schoolyard bullying occurs much more often in their experiences than cyber-bullying.

Over 53% of students surveyed indicated that they have been the victim or target of a

bully and the same percentage of students admitted to engaging in bullying other

children, whereas only 18% have ever been bullied on the Internet or on their cell

phones and an even lower percentage (approximately 15%) admitted to practicing

cyber-bullying. So although cyber-bullying may have the potential to become an even

more prevalent (and dangerous) form of bullying than traditional schoolyard bullying,

it apparently has not reached that threshold yet. And it seems that the students

surveyed do not feel an immediate threat or the need for their parents protection from

cyber-bullies because more than three-quarters of those students indicated that they

would not like their parents to be more involved with their use of technology,

specifically the Internet and their cell phones.

Quantitative Findings Response of School Authorities to Bullying Problem

According to all of the students surveyed in this research study, 60.81% think

that their schools have a bullying problem (66.67% of girls versus 30.67% of boys)

and only 37.16% believe that their teachers and administrators do a good job dealing

with the problem. So although a few states, such as Massachusetts, have recently

passed legislation widely considered to be some of the strictest anti-bullying laws in

the United States (Swearer & Delucia-Waack, 2010), many other states still have a
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long way to go in combating our serious school-bullying problem. Although

legislation may now be on the books, practical hands-on solutions have not necessarily

trickled down to the school systems yet. Further discussion of the schools apparent

lack of appropriate response to the bullying problems and suggestions for effective

prevention and intervention strategies will continue in the Qualitative Findings

Prevention and Intervention and Recommendations sections below.

Quantitative Findings Gender Differences in Bullying

An overwhelming majority (more than 79%) of all the surveyed students

believe that gender differences in bullying behaviors do indeed exist, including within

each distinct gender category (over 82% of girls and more than 75% of boys). In other

words, boys bully differently than girls bully. As will be discussed further in the

gender-related Qualitative Findings sections below, the major differences involve

physical versus emotional tactics and direct versus indirect bullying behaviors. In

addition, the quantitative findings in regard to gender indicate that most students

(almost 75%) agree that boys bully girls and girls bully boys only rarely or sometimes.

These findings are in keeping with the research of Dijkstra et al. (2007), who reported

that although cross-gender bullying does exist, it is much more common for boys to

bully other boys and for girls to bully other girls.

Qualitative Findings Typical Personality Traits of Bullies

Although bullies can vary greatly in terms of individual personality

characteristics and gender-specific bullying behaviors, both boy bullies and girl bullies

do tend to exhibit similar traits. A clear pattern appeared in the students narrative
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responses to the survey question, What are some words you would use to describe

bullies? indicating cruelty or meanness is definitely viewed as a typical personality

characteristic of most bullies. In fact, mean was the number one response by far to

the question of what words students would use to describe bullies. Related to the

theme of cruelty, the students narratives showed that anger, aggression and violence,

and a tendency to inflict emotional and physical pain on others in response to their

own feelings of pain and insecurity are also trademark characteristics of bullies.

According to a twelve-year-old white female study participant, people only bully

or cyber-bully because they dont feel good about themselves or they may not have or

get much attention at home. Additional research studies have also shown that some of

the strongest predictors of displaying bullying behaviors include anger, depression,

anxiety, a deficit of social skills, and a marked lack of empathy (Espelage, Mebane, &

Swearer, 2004; Harris, Harvey, & Booth, 2010). Bullies are often aggressive,

impulsive, have positive attitudes toward violence and need to dominate others

(Swearer, Song, Cary, Eagle, & Mickelson, 2001, p. 95). One survey respondent, a

thirteen-year-old Hispanic male, described bullies as selfish, mean people who

pick on others for fun.

Qualitative Findings Typical Personality Traits of Bullying Victims

When the students in this research study were asked, If you have been the

victim or target of a bully, why do you think he/she chose you to bully? the answers

overwhelmingly fell into the categories of weakness, small physical stature, emotional

vulnerability, or the common perception of the victim being socially or culturally


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different. Bullies are opportunists; they typically bully people who are younger,

weaker, smaller, or perceived as different in some way. They prey on easy targets.

Approximately 25% of students from elementary through high school have reported

that they have been harassed or bullied on school property because of their race,

ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or disability (Austin, Skager, & Bates,

2003). According to From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, a 2005

report from GLSEN and Harris Interactive, the top three reasons students said their

peers were most often bullied at school were physical appearance, actual or perceived

sexual orientation, and gender expression outside the norm of culturally-mandated

gender roles.

Homosexual students or those perceived as such are particularly at risk for

being bullied in school, due at least in part to the indifference or non-action of their

teachers and other school officials. This condemnation of gay students in schools is

pervasive and damaging. The isolation and vulnerability experienced by these students

is exacerbated by the refusal of teachers and administrators to intervene on their

behalf (Meyer, 2009, p. 5). Eighty-five percent of teachers oppose integrating

lesbian, gay, and bisexual themes in their curricula (Massachusetts Governors

Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, 1993). Gay and lesbian students are

specifically targeted by bullies at school at least partly because the typical school

culture allows it to go on. The most common type of this harassment is verbal, often in

the form of comments such as, thats so gay, which is not only tacitly tolerated by

school officials, but also overtly allowed (Meyer, 2009). Gay and straight students
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alike hear 25 anti-gay epithets a day, and teachers fail to respond to these comments

97 percent of the time (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, 2005). Biased

language related to sexual orientation is used frequently among students and is related

to prominent social concerns such as bullying (Poteat & DiGiovanni, 2010, p. 1123).

Because vulnerability is the common thread among so many victims of school

bullying, teachers and administrators should be even further obligated to resist apathy

and step in to help protect these vulnerable students from harassment and abuse.

Qualitative Findings Specific Reasons for Bullying Incidents

Another definitive trend emerged from the students responses to the survey

question, If you have been the victim or target of a bully, why do you think he/she

chose you to bully? The trend indicated that middle school students who have been

bullied often believe the bullying came as a result of something specific they did,

either to the actual bullies themselves or otherwise, rather than just being innocent

victims of a cruel bullys whims. It is apparent from their narratives that many

students believe theyre being bullied in retaliation for some (real or perceived) wrong

they committed on their peers and are therefore at fault. This self-blaming mentality

may prevent the bullying victim from reaching out for help from their teachers or

parents because they feel like they dont deserve to be rescued from their predicament

since it likely stemmed from their own actions in the first place. Bullying victims may

also believe that the bullying theyre experiencing is just a normal part of growing up

that all students have to deal with.


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It is important to note, however, that there is a significant difference between

normal peer conflict and destructive bullying behaviors. According to Garrett (2003),

normal peer conflict is characterized by two students of equal status and power

getting into a temporary and readily solvable argument or fight (p. 9). No long-term

emotional or psychological damage is done, and the students involved can indeed

learn valuable lessons about conflict resolution from the incident. Bullying, on the

other hand, is more associated with an imbalance of power between the bully and his

or her victim(s), repeated bullying incidents, and intent on the part of the bully to

intimidate and control other students (Garrett, 2003). In other words, bullying is not

something students should be subjected to in order to build character, or as some sort

of punishment for doing something wrong to a fellow student who turns out to have

bullying tendencies.

Qualitative Findings Repercussions of Bullying

Several significant themes arose from the students responses to the survey

question, What kinds of problems do students who are bullied have to deal with?,

but the most common response cited the emotional pain that bullied students

experience, hurtful feelings that include sadness, misery, insecurity and lack of self-

worth, anger, embarrassment, loneliness, depression, and shame. Research has also

shown that being bullied during middle school is predictive of low self-esteem ten

years later (Garrett, 2003, p. 13). Kaltiala-Heino et al. (2000) report that the negative

aftereffects of childhood bullying experiences may linger long into the victims'

adulthood. In addition, the recent research of Gladstone et al. (2006) documented


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increased levels of depression and anxiety in adults who had been bullied in their

youth.

In addition to the emotional pain victims of bullying typically have to suffer,

there is the danger of physical injury as well. As illustrated by the students narratives

on the research survey, that physical danger can manifest in many ways, such as

students getting beat up at school, self mutilation, suicidal thoughts and attempts, and

the perpetuation of the cycle of bullying when bullied students aim to seek revenge

against their harassers or just start acting out in the ways that were modeled for them

by their bullies. Some researchers and practitioners believe that the impact of

bullying is as devastating and life changing as that of other forms of trauma, such as

physical abuse (San Antonio & Salzfass, 2007, p. 32).

The most damaging psychological effect of bullying that can occur is an

adolescent becoming suicidal (Breguet, 2007). One of the devastating effects of

becoming a victim of bullying is extreme isolation, so when these victims begin to feel

hopeless and even suicidal about their predicaments, they often do not reach out for

help from their parents, friends, or teachers. These students feel completely alone, as if

no one has ever experienced or could ever understand what they are going through,

pushing them to act on their suicidal feelings (Hazler & Denham, 2002).

The students survey responses also pointed to academic performance

problems as a serious repercussion of bullying. Specific issues they highlighted as

obstacles to effective learning and success in school are attendance problems, lack of

ability to concentrate, and being overwhelmed by fear and sadness at school. Simmons
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(2002) presents a wealth of anecdotal evidence showing that schoolgirls are often so

intimidated by their bullies that they are too scared or emotionally traumatized to even

attend school, let alone focus their brain power and concentrate on what theyre

supposed to be learning. Garrett (2003) states, Bullying can affect the social

environment of a school, create a climate of fear among students, inhibiting their

ability to learn [italics added], and leading to other antisocial behavior (p. 7). Ten

percent of students who drop out before graduating from high school do so because of

being repeatedly bullied (Weinhold & Weinhold, 1998).

Qualitative Findings Prevention and Intervention

There were two distinct schools of thought among the students answers to the

open-ended survey question soliciting ideas for what schools might do in order to

better combat the aforementioned professed bullying problems, and each received

roughly the same number of mentions in the students responses. The first school of

thought involves improved monitoring and protection of students on campus

(prevention) and harsh punitive measures for bullies (intervention). Based on their

narratives, it is quite clear that a multitude of students feel that safety is a major issue

on their school campuses. Many of the students in this camp are deeply disappointed

that the school officials who are supposed to afford them a certain measure of physical

safety and emotional security cant seem to be bothered to intervene on the students

behalf.

Perhaps states such as California should take their cue from more proactive

anti-bullying states like Massachusetts. David Abel (2010) reported in the online
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version of The Boston Globe that when a bill widely acknowledged to be one of the

strictest anti-bullying laws in the United States passed in the Massachusetts House of

Representatives, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo stated, This bill aims to secure our

students from bullying, both during the school day and after school hours. In light of

recent tragedies, the House has taken the appropriate steps to protect our students from

the terror of bullying and cyber-bullying (para. 3). The new law requires principals to

write and implement prevention plans and to investigate any report of severe or

repeated episodes of bullying, online or off, that could potentially harm a student

physically or emotionally (Swearer & Delucia-Waack, 2010).

Unfortunately, though, these tough anti-bullying measures alone may not be

enough. The students surveyed in this study also seem to believe that when school

bullies are caught in the act, teachers, and administrators in particular, still allow them

to get off with nothing but a slap on the wrist. Either that, or the bullies are

immediately suspended from school, which the surveyed students contend is what the

bullies are hoping will happen simply so they can get out of school for a few days.

And perhaps, most damagingly, no follow-up is conducted when the suspended

students return to school to assure that the bullying behaviors are not repeated. That

last point leads directly into the second school of thought expressed by the surveyed

students regarding the prevention and intervention of school bullying.

On the other end of the disciplinary measures spectrum, the second of the two

opposing student viewpoints on school bullying prevention and intervention advocates

more of a therapeutic approach rather than a strict punitive response. The students in
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this camp see a necessity for more attention to be paid to the victims of bullies than to

the bullies themselves. Students whose survey responses fell into this category believe

that a more compassionate, and therefore effective, solution to bullying would place a

much stronger emphasis on mediation and conflict resolution, focusing on the

underlying reasons for the bullying incidents. Constructive discussions among the

victims, bullies, other students, teachers, administrators, counselors, and parents are at

least the first step to take when dealing with school bullying problems. The students

who endorse this more therapeutic approach believe that all involved parties deserve

the chance to be heard before an immediate rush to judgment followed by a strict

punishment occurs. They would like to see compassionate adults with the power to

affect positive and lasting change intimately involved in the process so they dont feel

like theyre left out on a limb to deal with the specter of school bullying all by

themselves.

Qualitative Findings Typical Behaviors of Boy Bullies

When the research study participants were asked on the survey, How do you

think boys usually bully others?, the two most popular themes to emerge were the

employment of bullying methods that involve primarily physical harm and humiliation

and the clear assertion that bullying among boys is direct and overt. The physical

aggression, fighting, and violence that an overwhelming majority of students cited as

the most common type of bullying behavior among boys takes many forms, such as

pushing, hitting, punching, kicking, and beating up. In addition to these strictly

physical types of harassment, bullying perpetrated by boys often encompasses milder


110

or more indirect forms of violence as well, including yelling, cussing, stuffing victims

in trash cans, lockers, or toilets, surrounding or ganging up on students, and

threatening physical violence.

The findings of psychologist James Garbarinos 1999 study of youthful violent

offenders suggest that one possible cause of violence in men is the way boys swallow

anger and hurt rather than express it in healthy ways (Kimmel, 1999). If it was more

socially acceptable for boys to openly express their emotions, thereby purging the

internal negativity rather than bottling it up, perhaps hurt and angry boys would not

turn into violent men as often as they do now. Discussing the youthful offenders he

studied, Garbarino (1999) postulated that [d]eadly petulance usually hides some deep

emotional wounds, a way of compensating through an exaggerated sense of grandeur

for an inner sense of violation, victimization, and injustice (p. 128).

Although other common methods of bullying behavior among boys (relentless

teasing, name-calling, pranks, and other tactics intended to shame the victims) are not

types of physical harassment, they do contribute to an overall pattern of emotional

torment and humiliation. Gilligan (1997) argues that the origin of violence in boys and

men is typically the fear of shame and ridicule, and the overbearing need to prevent

others from laughing at oneself by making them weep instead (p. 77). In other words,

Gilligans (1997) insight into the roots of violent behavior simply reflects the age-old

notion that schoolyard bullies make fun of other people in order to mask their own

insecurities.
111

Even though this pattern of humiliation among boys does not necessarily

involve physical aggression, it is still an overt, direct form of bullying. It is not behind

the scenes or hidden. The harassment is upfront and obvious, clearly visible for

anyone to observe. It is also worth mentioning that a large number of the students

narratives pertaining to emotional bullying among boys contain references to physical

harassment as well. Evidently, at least according to the study participants, the two

distinct methods of boy bullying (physical aggression and emotional torment), while

indeed different, are also intertwined.

Qualitative Findings Typical Behaviors of Girl Bullies

Of all the qualitative data analyzed for this research study, the most significant

and most interesting findings were in the area of specific aspects of bullying among

girls. While the responses to the survey question pertaining to how girls typically bully

generated the highest number of response patterns by far, this section will focus

exclusively on the three most popular and important themes relational aggression as

the main tactic in girl bullying, the covert nature of bullying among girls (and how that

feature can make it distinctly more dangerous for victims of girl bullying than victims

of the more overt form of boy bullying), and the startling increase in physical bullying

among girls and its link to cyber-bullying.

Girls are more likely to bully using emotional rather than physical tactics,

capitalizing on the social importance of personal relationships in the lives of pre-

adolescent and adolescent girls. Relational aggression among adolescent girls can be

particularly damaging because developmental psychologists theorize that while boys


112

are most psychologically at risk in childhood, the time of greatest risk for girls is

adolescence (Cohen et al., 1996). Relational aggression is defined by Simmons (2002)

as:

ignoring someone to punish them or get ones own way, excluding someone

socially for revenge, using negative body language or facial expressions,

sabotaging someone elses relationships, or threatening to end a relationship

unless the friend agrees to a request. In these acts, the perpetrator uses her

relationship with the victim as a weapon. (p. 21)

Another specific method of emotional and relational bullying that surfaced repeatedly

in the students survey responses is hurtful language in a variety of contexts, such as

mean comments often directed at the victims appearance, name-calling, criticism,

teasing and ridicule intended to embarrass the victim, and intimidation. According to

Brown & Gilligan (1992), girls are less likely to react to hurt feelings or exclusion

with physical violence than with verbal outbursts because words seem, in some ways,

more powerful to them. Other related methods of relational aggression include

rumors/gossip, group bullying, and social isolation.

Relational aggression among girls often manifests as the social exclusion or

isolation of victims, which includes behaviors such as rumors/gossip and group

bullying. These types of emotional bullying tactics involve other hallmarks of bullying

among girls as well, such as bullies interfering in friend groups, using intermediaries

to do their dirty work, and talking badly about victims behind their backs rather than

to their faces. Many of the survey respondents provided narratives explaining that,
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based on their experiences and observations, one of the most common ways girls

emotionally bully each other is by starting and spreading rumors (true or not) which in

turn creates drama between other girls.

The trend of spreading rumors, gossiping, and perpetuating drama discussed

above is a perfect example of how girls bully in a much more covert way than boys

do. Rather than confront their targets directly, girl bullies often cause problems in the

victims social circles from behind the scenes, concocting untrue and hurtful stories

and letting the ensuing drama play out to the detriment of the victims. Olweus (1993),

one of the first educational researchers to study bullying extensively and to publish his

results, differentiates between the two main forms of bullying direct bullying and

indirect bullying. Olweus (1993) explains:

It is useful to distinguish between direct bullying with relatively open attacks

on avictim and indirect bullying in the form of social isolation and

intentional exclusionfrom a group. It is important to pay attention also to the

second, less visible form of bullying. (p. 10)

Indirect bullying is more covert and comparable to the relational aggression discussed

by Simmons (2002). Olweus (1993) makes a point to draw attention to the importance

of not underestimating the power and danger of indirect bullying.

Although most of the comparisons of gender-specific bullying behaviors on the

survey posited that girl bullying and boy bullying are usually quite different, there

were also a fair number of students who stated that physical bullying has become just

as prevalent (and just as dangerous) among girls as it is with boys. At least one
114

researcher agrees with the students assessment. Artz (1998) points out that although

violent white schoolgirls who are not in juvenile detention are virtually ignored as if

they dont exist, in fact they do. Girls are very much in the forefront of the rise in

violence in schools, both as victims and as perpetrators (Artz, 1998, p. vi). So in

addition to the emotional and relational methods common in girl bullying, physical

bullying is now a major problem among girls as well.

Finally, it bears repeating that out of the 148 middle school students surveyed

in this research study, only one person mentioned cyber-bullying in any form in

response to the open-ended question about how boys typically bully, but cyber-

bullying was brought up again and again in the narratives describing the common

techniques of bullying among girls. The two specific methods of cyber-bullying

mentioned most often in the narratives are hurtful texts and posting negative

comments about victims online. The assertion by the students that cyber-bullying is a

normal tactic of girl bullies makes sense because the anonymity of the Internet is in

line with the trademark covert way girls have traditionally bullied. The anonymous

nature of the Internet also makes cyber-bullies particularly dangerous because the

victims are denied the opportunity to confront the bullying head-on and at least try to

resolve it.

Perhaps the explosion in popularity of social media outlets such as Facebook

and YouTube among adolescents can explain a possible link or relationship between

the documented increase in physical bullying among girls and the finding of this

research study that girls are more likely than boys to bully online. Literally tens of
115

thousands of videos of girls fighting have been uploaded to YouTube. Students can

post photos and videos of whatever they want on their Facebook pages, providing

everyone they know (and others) with access to those images. It is possible that the

increase in physical aggression among girl bullies can be attributed at least in part to

the fact that the bullies gain further recognition and perhaps even praise for their

conquests when anyone and everyone can view them online. Posting the pictures and

videos of a victim getting beat up online can even serve as further humiliation and

intimidation of the victim, combining traditional bullying with cyber-bullying, and

might cause the bully to feel like she has even more power over the victim.

Limitations

One of the most significant limitations to acquiring comprehensive and

influential results in this study was the primary research instrument itself, the cross-

sectional survey. Survey research in the educational research community is sometimes

viewed as less rigorous than experimental research. According to Creswell (2002):

Survey designs differ from experimental research in that they do not involve a

treatment given to participants by the researcher. Because survey researchers

do not experimentally manipulate the conditions, they cannot explain as well

as experimental researchers can the relationship between the independent and

dependent variables. Survey studies describe trends in the data rather than offer

rigorous explanations. (p. 396)

While some researchers in the educational research field may perceive survey

studies as less rigorous than experimental research, this researcher contends that that is
116

not always necessarily the case. That statement should be applied only on a study-by-

study basis. For the purposes of this particular research study, the cross-sectional

survey and the results it produced were more than sufficient to provide significant

findings in terms of answering the primary educational research question:

How do sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students think educators (teachers,

administrators, and support staff) can best intervene to help them and their

parents avoid the social, emotional, and academic pitfalls of adolescent cyber-

bullying?

The primary research question pertains to the thoughts, feelings, opinions, and

attitudes of middle school students on how bullying practices affect their lives and

what can be done to prevent it. Even Cresswell (2002), the author who wrote the

above critique in his book, Educational research: Planning, conducting, and

evaluating quantitative and qualitative research, himself states, This [cross-sectional

survey] design has the advantage of measuring current attitudes or practices (p. 398).

Describing trends in the data instead of explaining the relationship between the

independent and dependent variables is precisely what this researcher set out to do

(and succeeded with the employment of the cross-sectional survey as the main

research tool).

Another limitation to a thorough analysis of the results of this study that had to

be overcome is that bullying is an extremely emotional and volatile issue for

teenagers, whether theyre currently going through the trauma of being bullied or are

still trying to recover from bullying in their pasts. Students who have bullied others
117

and students who have been the victims of bullying behavior often feel a lot of shame

and embarrassment over their involvement in it, regardless of whether they were the

perpetrator or the victim (or both), so they may be hesitant to completely open up

about the full and true reality of their experiences. They might not even want to admit

that it has been an issue in their lives at all, on any level. Students who have been

bullied may feel very scared to address their bullying trauma in any way, even to

themselves in their own minds, for fear of experiencing the emotional pain all over

again.

Recommendations

The findings of this research study and of countless others examined in the

literature review chapter of this thesis clearly indicate that traditional schoolyard

bullying and cyber-bullying are serious problems among the adolescent population in

this country. Whether students are being bullied or not and whether the bullying is

affecting them negatively or not is no longer in question. So the pertinent research

question now is: what can lawmakers, educators, parents and students themselves do

to work together to drastically decrease the incidence of bullying in our schools?

Much more research needs to be done in the area of effective prevention and

intervention of school bullying. According to Swearer and Delucia-Waack (2010),

No U.S. program has been shown to significantly reduce the slings and arrows of the

schoolyard. In fact, according to a 2008 report, the average teacher reported more

bullying after intervention than before (p. 12). Bullying on the part of boys is often

mishandled by school authorities in that severe punishment is rigidly implemented


118

rather than conflict resolution skills taught and employed. The deeper reasons for the

bullying behavior are never addressed or resolved, and no preventative measures are

put in place. On the other hand, school officials often just ignore bullying behavior

among girls (Simmons, 2002). Girl bullying is sometimes perceived as not that

pressing of an issue and swept under the rug simply because it is more covert than

typical boy bullying. Further research into prevention and intervention programs that

address gender-specific bullying issues is necessary.

According to Swearer and Delucia-Waack (2010), one prevention and

intervention strategy that perhaps holds the most promise to significantly curb school

bullying problems among all students, regardless of gender, is the whole school

approach. The key to this strategy is making lessons on stereotyping and emotional

IQ part of the everyday curriculum, just like math and language arts. Many schools

have explored the benefits of implementing schoolwide programs to promote social

and emotional learning, prevent bullying, and nurture positive peer relationships (San

Antonio & Salzfass, 2007, p. 32). Schaps (2009) also advocates for building students

sense of community connectedness in school through explicit character education as a

bullying and violence prevention technique. The main idea behind these programs is to

teach students compassion and respect in a very direct way, creating supportive

relationships among and between students, thus making bullying less likely.

Although promising, the bullying prevention and intervention programs

promoting a school-wide character curriculum face a major obstacle to full

implementation. There is such a strong emphasis placed on the rigid commitment to


119

content standards and standardized testing in American public schools that it may be

difficult to convince district officials and administrators that theres any room in the

already crowded school day for a curriculum that teaches ethics and compassion.

Much more research should be conducted into how to best design and implement these

anti-bullying programs.

Conclusion

Although cyber-bullying may not be a bigger issue than traditional schoolyard

bullying yet, it is heading in that direction and is already a major problem. Cyber-

bullying has become completely intertwined with other types of bullying. Victimized

students are suffering. They are having to face emotional pain, physical injury

(including suicide), the disruption of healthy social development, and academic

performance problems. They are being made to feel like theres something wrong with

them and the negative psychological repercussions can last long into adulthood,

interfering not only with their health and happiness during their school-age years but

well beyond. It is the moral and professional obligation of educators to become

informed about the realities of school bullying and do everything possible to fight

against it.
120

APPENDIX A

Cyber-Bullying Survey
121

Cyber-Bullying Survey

Please circle one: FEMALE / MALE

Ethnicity (it is okay to circle more than one):


ASIAN / BLACK / HISPANIC / NATIVE AMERICAN / WHITE / OTHER

Age: __________________________ Grade: __________________________

School currently attending: ___________________________________________

Please read the following definitions of bullying and cyber-bullying to help you
answer the questions below:

Bullying - unwanted words or physical actions that can make a person feel bad

Cyber-Bullying - willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers,
cell phones, and other electronic devices

Please circle and/or fill in your answers below:

1. Have you ever been the victim or target of a bully? YES / NO

2. If YES, how often are you bullied? RARELY / SOMETIMES / OFTEN /


ALWAYS

3. Have you ever been bullied on the Internet or on your cell phone? YES / NO

4. If YES, how often? RARELY / SOMETIMES / OFTEN / ALWAYS

5. If you have been the victim or target of a bully, why do you think he/she chose you
to bully?
__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________
122

6. What are some words you would use to describe bullies? _____________________

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

7. Have you ever engaged in bullying other children? YES / NO

8. If YES, how often do you bully other children?


RARELY / SOMETIMES / OFTEN / ALWAYS

9. Have you ever bullied anyone on the Internet or using your cell phone? YES / NO

10. If YES, how often? RARELY / SOMETIMES / OFTEN / ALWAYS

11. If you have bullied other children, please explain why: _____________________

____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

12. Do you think people would still be as likely to bully other people on the Internet if
it wasnt so anonymous? YES / NO

13. What kinds of problems do students who are bullied have to deal with? ________

____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________

14. Do you think boys bully others differently than girls bully? YES / NO

15. How do you think boys usually bully others? _____________________________

____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________
123

16. How do you think girls usually bully others? _____________________________

____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________

17. How likely is it that boys bully girls or girls bully boys?
RARELY / SOMETIMES / OFTEN / ALWAYS

18. Does your school have a bullying problem? YES / NO

19. Do you think the teachers and administrators at your school do a good job dealing
with bullying problems? YES / NO

20. If you think schools need to do more to deal with bullying problems, what ideas
would you give them? __________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________

21. Do your parents monitor your Internet activity and cell phone use? YES / NO

22. If YES, how often? RARELY / SOMETIMES / OFTEN / ALWAYS

23. Would you like your parents to be more involved with your use of technology?
YES / NO

24. Do you see bullying as just a normal part of school that you have to deal with?
YES / NO

25. Is there anything else youd like to say about bullying or cyber-bullying? Please
use this space to share any experiences, thoughts, opinions, ideas, or suggestions:

____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________
124

APPENDIX B

Principal Permission Letter


125
126

APPENDIX C

Informed Consent Form (Parent)


127

Decline Permission for Child to Participate in Research

You are being asked for permission for your child to participate in research, which
will be conducted by Kelley Anderson, a graduate student in the Teacher Education
Department at California State University, Sacramento. The purpose of the study is
to learn more about the reasons for and methods of adolescent cyber-bullying. This
information is important because it may be used by schools to develop and
implement cyber-bullying prevention and intervention strategies.

Your child will be given a survey with several questions about what he/she may
have experienced and thinks about cyber-bullying and traditional schoolyard
bullying. Your child will only have to answer the questions he/she feels comfortable
with. Your childs name will not be on the survey. They will simply be asked
whether they are male or female. Your child can return his/her completed survey to
his/her teacher or mail it directly to Kelley Anderson in the provided self-addressed
stamped envelope. Your childs answers on the survey, and his or her participation
in this research study, will be kept private.

This survey procedure is completely safe and is not associated with any known
health risks.

Your childs participation in this research study is very much appreciated and may
contribute to the educational community developing important and effective cyber-
bullying prevention and intervention techniques.

If you have any questions about this research, you may contact Kelley Anderson by
phone at (916) 402-XXXX or by e-mail at ka79@saclink.csus.edu.

Your child may decline to be a participant in this study without any consequences. If
you would like to decline permission, please sign below. By signing and returning
this form, you and your child are opting out of the research. You dont need to sign
or return the form if you agree to allow your child to participate in the research.
Thank you very much.

___________________________________ ________________________
Signature of Parent / Legal Guardian Date
128

APPENDIX D

Informed Consent Form (Student)


129

Agreement to Participate in Research

Kelley Anderson at Sacramento State University is asking you to


participate in a research study on how and why middle school students
bully each other using the Internet and their cell phones. This research is
important because it may help principals, teachers, and parents understand
cyber-bullying more so they can help students deal with it.

You will be given a survey with many questions about what you may
have experienced and what you think about cyber-bullying and other
types of bullying. There are no right or wrong answers and you only have
to answer the questions you feel comfortable with. You will not put your
name on your survey. You will just state whether you are a male or a
female and indicate your ethnicity, age, grade, and school. Your answers
on the survey, and your participation in this research study, will be kept
private.

If you decide not to participate, no one will be upset with you. Please sign
your name and write todays date on the lines below if you are willing to
be a part of the research. Thank you very much.

___________________________________ ________________________
Signature of Participant Date
130

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