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Cyberbullying: The role of family and school

Dissertation
Author: Jennifer Taiariol
Abstract:
The purpose of this study was to examine family and school variables in relation to different types of perpetration, victimization and witnessing experiences (physical, social, verbal and cyber). Students (n=257) in grades 7 to 8 from two middle schools located in a suburb in southeastern Michigan participated in the study. Data were collected during the 2008-2009 school year. Statistically significant differences were found for perpetration and victimization by gender and perpetration and witnessing by grade. No gender and grade interaction results were significant. All types of bullying experiences were positively correlated with cyberbullying and cyber victimization. Bullying experiences were significant predictors of poor school adjustment (low GPA and risky school behavior) and both negative and positive school climates while family variables were significant predictors of bullying experiences. Students with a computer located in a private location with parental monitors installed were more likely to be victims of cyberbullying or engage in cyberbullying themselves. Statistically significant gender and grade differences were found for communication technology use: Females and 8 th graders reported greater use of technology than males and 7th graders. Little research to date has been done in relation to cyberbullying and family and school variables. This study provides support for the importance of cyberbullying research.

TABLE OF CONTENTS Dedication ........................................................................................................................ ii Acknowledgements ......................................................................................................... iii List of Tables ................................................................................................................... ix List of Figures .................................................................................................................. xi

Chapter 1— Introduction ................................................................................................. 1 Background ........................................................................................................... 1 Problem ................................................................................................................. 5 Theoretical Framework ........................................................................................ 10 Bullying and Family Context ................................................................................ 11 Bullying and School Environment ........................................................................ 14 Research Questions and Hypotheses ................................................................. 15 Definition of Terms .............................................................................................. 17 Chapter 2 — Review of Literature ................................................................................. 19 Aggression ........................................................................................................... 19 Bullying in Secondary Education Level ................................................................ 20 Ecological Perspective on Bullying ....................................................................... 22 Family Context ..................................................................................................... 22 Parent Cohesion and Responsiveness ................................................................ 23 Parental Monitoring .............................................................................................. 24 Peers .................................................................................................................... 27 Teachers and School Climate .............................................................................. 28 Bullying and School Adjustment ........................................................................... 30

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Evolutionary Perspective ...................................................................................... 32 Cyberbullying........................................................................................................ 35 Online Parental Monitoring ................................................................................... 37 Chapter 3 — Methodology ............................................................................................ 39 Restatement of the Problem ................................................................................. 39 Research Design .................................................................................................. 39 Participants .......................................................................................................... 39 Measures ............................................................................................................. 42 Demographics ...................................................................................................... 42 School Adjustment ............................................................................................... 43 Bullying ................................................................................................................. 43 Technology Use ................................................................................................... 45 Family Cohesion ................................................................................................... 45 Family Responsiveness ....................................................................................... 46 Parental Monitoring .............................................................................................. 47 School Climate ..................................................................................................... 48 Procedures ........................................................................................................... 49 Data Analysis ....................................................................................................... 50 Chapter 4 — Results ..................................................................................................... 55 Introduction ......................................................................................................... 55 Descriptive Data .................................................................................................. 56 School Adjustment .............................................................................................. 58

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GPA ........................................................................................................... 58 Risky School Behavior............................................................................... 58 School Climate ................................................................................................... 58 Positive ....................................................................................................... 58 Negative ..................................................................................................... 58 Family Variables ................................................................................................. 59 Parental Monitoring .................................................................................... 59 Family Responsiveness.............................................................................. 59 Family Cohesion ......................................................................................... 59 Reliability ....................................................................................................................... 60 Research Questions ...................................................................................................... 61 Research Question 1 ......................................................................................... 61 Research Question 2 ......................................................................................... 66 Research Question 3 ......................................................................................... 69 Research Question 4 ......................................................................................... 77 Research Question 5 ......................................................................................... 78 Chapter 5 — Discussion ................................................................................................ 81 Implications for School Psychologists ................................................................. 92 Limitations ........................................................................................................... 94 Future Directions: Cyberbullying ......................................................................... 96 Appendix A Student Survey .......................................................................................... 98 Appendix B School Approval ....................................................................................... 104 Appendix C Human Investigation Committee Approval ............................................... 105

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Appendix D Parental Consent ..................................................................................... 106 Appendix E Child Assent ............................................................................................. 108 Appendix F Directions for Bully Survey ....................................................................... 110 References .................................................................................................................. 111 Abstract ....................................................................................................................... 143 Autobiographical Statement ........................................................................................ 145

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LIST OF TABLES

Table 1: Description of Categorical Demographic Personal Variables ..................... 40 Table 2: Description of Categorical Grade/Citizenship Variables ............................. 41 Table 3: Description of Categorical Risky School Behavior Variables ...................... 42 Table 4: Descriptive Statistics ― Gender ................................................................. 56 Table 5: Descriptive Statistics ― Grade ................................................................... 57 Table 6: Descriptive Statistics ― School Adjustment ............................................... 58 Table 7: Descriptive Statistics ― School Climate ..................................................... 59 Table 8: Descriptive Statistics ― Family Variables .................................................. 59 Table 9: Cronbach’s Alpha Coeffiecients ― Scaled Variables ................................. 60 Table 10: Univariate F Tests ― Physical, Social, Verbal and Cyber Experience by Gender ....................................................................................................... 63

Table 11: Univariate F Tests ― Physical, Social, Verbal and Cyber Experience by Grade ......................................................................................................... 65

Table 12: Intercorrelation Matix ― Bullying ................................................................ 66 Table 13: Regression Analysis Summary for Four Perpetration Scores Predicting GPA and Risky School Behavior ................................................................ 67

Table 14: Regression Analysis Summary for Four Perpetration Scores Predicting GPA and Risky School Behavior ................................................................ 68

Table 15: Regression Analysis Summary for Three Witnessing Scores Predicting GPA and Risky School Behavior ................................................................ 69

Table 16: Regression Analysis Summary for Family Variables and Perpetration ....... 71 Table 17: Regression Analysis Summary for Family Variables and Victimization ...... 73 Table 18: Regression Analysis Summary for Family Variables and Witnessing ......... 74 Table 19: Description of Categorical Technology Variables ....................................... 75 Table 20: Univariate F Tests ― Cyber Perpetration and Cyber Victimization by

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Location of Computer and Computer Monitoring ........................................ 77

Table 21: Summary of Multivariate Regression Analysis for Perpetration, Victimization and Witnessing Predicting Negative and Positive School Climate ....................................................................................................... 78

Table 22: Description of Categorical Technology Use Variables ................................ 79 Table 23: Communication Technology Use Variables by Gender and Grade ............ 80

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LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 1: Research Questions, Hypotheses and Statistical Analyses………….. 51

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Chapter 1 Introduction

Background “Did you guys hate me?” was a question asked in a note left by a sixth grade girl who was found hanging in her classroom in Nagano, Japan (Detroit Free Press, 12/8/06). In Littleton, Colorado in 1999 two students opened fire in their high school, killing a number of students and a teacher (Stein, 2005). Two high school students in southeastern Michigan exchanged threatening text messages, which lead to a face-to- face confrontation. One of the students was subsequently air-lifted to a local trauma hospital (The Detroit News, 11/23/2006). All of these students had been victims of bullying. There is ample research addressing a number of negative correlates with bullying (Olweus, 1993), not only with the victim (Stanley & Arora, 1998), but also with the bystander (Rodkin, Pearl, & Van Acker, 2003), the bullies themselves (Perry, Hodges, & Egan, 2001) and the overall school climate (Limber, 2002). Physical bullying is one form of bullying that has been thoroughly researched (Olweus, 1993). It involves the intent to harm another’s body. It includes such actions as hitting, pushing, poking, tripping and slapping. Physical bullying may also involve the intent to humiliate another. For example, Lyznicki, McCaffree, and Robinowitz (2004) indicate sexual touching, defacing personal property and performing acts in order to humiliate (e.g. pushing another’s head into a toilet) are forms of physical bullying. The prevalence of physical bullying and the negative consequences associated with physical bullying are both numerous and serious. There are many research studies

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that provide percentages of victimization as well as the prevalence of physical bullying. The most common prevalence rates are around 8% to 46% for victimization and 3% to 23% for physical bullying incidents in school (Smith et al., 1999). Björkqvist (1994) speculated these high prevalence rates may be due to a developmental reason: the lack of development in the verbal domain of young students. On the other hand, Woods and Wolke (2004) found in a study of 1,016 primary school age children that boys with teacher-reported behavior problems as well as emotional health problems were the most likely to be physical bullies. Children who bully other students in the early primary school years are more likely to exhibit continued violent behavior well into the secondary school years (Craig & Pepler, 1999). These early offenders are more likely to join groups that consist of other aggressive children (Cairns, Cairns, Neckerman, Gest, & Gariepy, 1988). Research has also shown these young aggressive students to be more likely than non-aggressive students to repeat a grade (Beebe-Frankenberger, Bocian, MacMillan, & Gresham, 2004) and exhibit conduct problems in adolescence (Broidy et al., 2003). Bullying continues to exist even for incarcerated youth offenders. According to Viljoen, O’Neill, and Sidhu (2005), out of 193 male and 50 female adolescents who were locked up in a youth offender facility, 32% described themselves as being a bully. Children who bully others have been found to lack a sense of family and school connectedness (Berdondini & Smith, 1996; Haynie et al., 2001). Bullies are also more likely than non-bullies to exhibit externalizing disorders such as conduct disorder and drug use (Nansel et al., 2001). Victims of physical bullying have been associated with internalizing behaviors from depression and anxiety (Craig, 1998) to suicidal behavior

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(Blaauw, Winkel, & Kerkof, 2001). The constant fear of being bullied or becoming the victim of bullying (bystanders) has also been found to be significantly related to illness due to stress (Rigby, 2003). Physical bullying is not the only way to threaten or harm another individual. According to Crick and Grotpeter (1995), relational aggression is an attempt to inflict harm on peers by manipulating and damaging peer relationships. Some of the most common forms of indirect relational aggression are social alienation (giving peers the silent treatment), rejection (telling rumors or lies about a peer so the others in the group will reject him or her), and social exclusion (excluding a peer from play or a social group). Direct relational aggression may involve maltreatment such as “You can’t be my friend unless…” or refusing to select a peer as a team member for a class project or gym class (Crick, Casas, & Nelson, 2002). Rumor spreading, “getting even” and giving the silent treatment have been determined to be indirect ways to manipulate or control another member of the relationship (Crick et al., 2002). More recently, forms of relational aggression have been found in boy-girl romantic relationships (Crick et al., 2002) and the enlistment of peers to assault another peer (Limber, 2002). The consequences of relational bullying are far-reaching and have been found to be indicative of poor future outcomes. Although physical bullying is a more overt form of bullying with perhaps visible indicators of abuse, relational aggression also has its scars. Galen and Underwood (1997) reported that girls in the seventh grade who were victims of indirect aggression perceived their victimization to be just as hurtful as physical aggression. Studies have found victims of bullying tend to be less happy, lower in self-esteem, and lonelier at school (e.g., O’Moore & Hillery, 1991; Rigby & Slee,

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1993; Stanley & Arora, 1998). Rigby (1999) found both boys and girls to experience negative health outcomes, with girls more likely to also experience poor mental health. In addition to these findings, Casey-Cannon, Hayward, and Gowen (2001) found that victimized seventh grade girls reported feelings of social isolation. Prinstein, Boergers, and Vernberg (2001) found that adolescent girls in ninth through twelfth grades who were relationally aggressive toward their peers were more likely to experience externalizing symptoms associated with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and conduct disorder (CD). Prinstein et al. (2001) also found that for both boys and girls relational victimization was associated with higher levels of loneliness and depression and lower global self-worth. Children who are frequent targets of relational aggression may be more likely to experience adjustment difficulties such as peer rejection, internalizing problems and antisocial personality features (Crick et al., 2002). According to Rigby (2001), children who are victimized by peers are more anxious, more socially dysfunctional, less physically well, and more prone to suicidal ideation. Bullying presents significant concerns because it not only affects the individual, but also extends to the school climate and society as a whole. Researchers have posited that bullying may be the gateway for the development of other more serious crimes such as gang affiliation, shoplifting, drugs, and rape (Kelley, Loeber, Keenan, & DeLamatre, 1997). As these individuals become more involved with these serious antisocial behaviors the justice system and the mental health system may become more taxed. Some victims of childhood bullying are at an increased risk for depression and anxiety as adults (Olweus, 1993; Roth, Coles, & Heimberg, 2002), while other victims may retaliate in a violent manner (US Department of Education, 2008). Bullying may

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also have a negative impact on the classroom environment. Bully-victims are more likely to be reported by teachers as off-task, with lower overall academic achievement scores (Schwartz, 2000), and are more likely to be truant from school (Kumpulainen et al., 1998). Bullying in the classroom takes up instructional time (Fonagy, Twemlow, Vernberg, Sacco, & Little, 2005), as well as being linked to reading and language problems (Tomblin, Zhang, Buckwalter, & Catts, 2000) and grade retention (Rodney, Crafter, Rodney, & Mupier, 1999). Repeated victimization may also lead to truancy, failure in school and dropping out of school (Kelley et al., 1997). Fonagy et al. (2005) argued that the negative effect of school violence on the educational process “depletes the value of the human capital of the town, state, and nation” (p. 318). With all the research available on bullying, there is little research addressing the growing number of methods by which bullying occurs. Bullies have moved beyond the playground, hallways and classroom and have recently adapted their delivery style to include electronic technologies. Problem Technology has permeated many aspects of daily life for children and adolesc ents. According to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration [NTIA] (in Patchin & Hinduja, 2006), home computers are used for “social, entertainment, academic, and productivity needs” (p. 148). Adolescents have moved beyond the landline communication system to instant messaging via a computer to socialize with their friends outside of the school day. More and more children and adolescents have cell phones, which have text messaging, email, and picture-taking capabilities. Cell phones are used not only for their technological advances, but also

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because they facilitate instant communication among friends and allow for social networking to occur at a distance. In addition, cell phones may also be preprogrammed with global positioning tracking services for parents to keep track of their children’s whereabouts (Patchin & Hinduja, 2006). Lee (2005) predicted that the number of adolescents using the Internet and cell phones would significantly increase in the future. In a survey by Pew Internet and American Life Project (2009), 87% of adolescents aged 12 to 17 surveyed used the Internet, with 24% using instant messaging and 5% email. Twelve percent of the sample used cell phones, with 3% having used text-messaging. In a study by Patchin and Hinduja (2006), 90% of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 used computers, with 73% accessing the internet. Roberts and Foehr (2004) found that the first activity for most adolescents after arriving home from school involved going online. This is not just a phenomenon of adolescence. According to the NTIA (2002), 29% of children go online, a percentage that surpasses adult use (Pew Internet and American Life Project, 2009). With this growing number of children and adolescents using advanced technology, social relationships may likely morph into faceless interactions. Little is known about the effects of communication technology on social relationships. Relevant to this study is a significant concern that communication technologies are used as a tool to manipulate social relationships and hurt others. Cyberbullying is the most recent form of bullying being researched. According to Belsey (2005), cyberbullying is defined as, “the use of information and communication technologies such as email, cell phone, and pager text messages, instant messaging, defamatory personal web sites, and defamatory online personal polling web sites, to

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support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others” (p. 3). Campbell (2005) argues that the speedy nature of communication technology and immediate accessibility of information may increase the breadth and power of cyberbullies. Physical bullying and relational bullying typically involve a face-to-face confrontation where there is an imbalance in power between the bully and the victim (Bitney & Title, 1997; Nansel et al., 2001; Witted & Dupper, 2005). Cyberbullying involves a different form of power. Technologically savvy youth are able to manipulate technology (e.g., cell phone cameras, instant messaging) to exert power over another (Patchin & Hinduja, 2006). Knowledge of technology may serve the same function in relation to their relative standing on the dominance hierarchy as physical strength (Olweus, 1978), physical attractiveness (Gilbert, 1992), social prowess such as social skills and popularity (Weisfeld, 1999) or a sense of humor (Pierce, 1990). Cyberbullies can exert their power within close proximity or miles away from their victim and with a shield of anonymity. Li (2005) found that 40.9% of adolescents who had been cyberbullied had no idea who the perpetrator was. Bullying typically occurs within a peer group, often outside of adult awareness and physical presence (Hawkins, Pepler, & Craig, 2001). When it comes to cyberbullying, the location of adolescents’ computers can afford even more secrecy. Patchin and Hinduja (2006) found that a substantial number of adolescents used their computers in the privacy of their own bedrooms, thereby reducing or even eliminating the presence and supervision of a parent.

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According to Pew Internet and American Life Project (2005), 46% of parents had no monitoring or filtering device on their home computers, and 36% had no established rules for their adolescent’s computer use. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (2006) found that 1 million children and adolescents have received an aggressive sexual email, and fewer than one in five of those harassed had confided in a parent. In fact, most adolescents are more knowledgeable about technology than their parents and may use that knowledge to prevent or hinder parental awareness of bullying by erasing evidence of their actions (NTIA, 2002; cited in Patchin & Hinduja). This presents a significant concern because in general bullying is highly correlated with a lack of parental monitoring (Ybarra & Mitchell, 2004). The speed of the Internet and user’s immediate access to others’ email/cell phones also allows the number of bystanders to grow exponentially. Communication via cell phones may be perceived by one user as contained within a two-person conversation. However, with the advanced capabilities of non-land-line devices, the ability for a significant number of “others” to be privy to the conversation can be immediate and devastating (Strom, 2005). Shinobu is a high school freshman in Osaka, Japan. When his gym period was over, Shinobu got dressed in what he believed was the privacy of the school changing room. However, a classmate who wanted to ridicule Shinobu for being overweight secretly used a cell phone to photograph him. Within seconds, the picture of the naked boy was sent wirelessly by instant messaging for many students to see. By the time

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Shinobu finished dressing and went to his next class, he had already become a laughing stock of the school (Paulson, 2003, p. 2). Another example involved a high school freshman who sent a picture, via cellphone, of herself nude to a few of her friends. The photo was forwarded to over a hundred students (The Detroit News, 10/16/2008). Although cyberbullying is a relatively recent phenomenon, the number of incidents as indicated by the most current research is frighteningly high. A recent study of 384 children and adolescents by Patchin and Hinduja (2005) found that 29% had been bullied online. Those who reported being bullied online were asked to report the types of cyberbullying tactics they had experienced while online. Respondents cited being ignored (60.0%) and being disrespected (50.0%) as their most frequent experience of online bullying. Other occurrences reported on the survey include being called names (30.0%), being made fun of (19.3%) and having their physical safety threatened (21.4%). Forty-seven percent of the respondents reported being a bystander, while 11% reported being an online bully, with online chat rooms as the playground of choice. MindOH! (2005) conducted an online survey of 5,500 adolescents, and found that 80% had read or spread a rumor online, while 50% had seen a website posting that ridiculed a peer (retrieved 12/28/2006). In a study of children and adolescents Ybarra and Mitchell (2004) found 19% of the sample had reported a cyberbullying experience (12% bully, 4% victim, and 3% bully/victim). Of significant note in this research is the finding that of those 19% who reported cyberbullying almost one-half were also involved in traditional bullying in some form,

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suggesting that cyberbullying may be a part of broader social problems for some children and adolescents. Cyberbullying, like physical and relational bullying, appears to be a global and nondiscriminating problem. Li (2005) found in a Canadian adolescent sample that 24.9% of seventh grade students had been cyberbullied, while 52.4% were aware of a peer being cyberbullied. Females made up 60% of the victims and males 52% of the perpetrators. The National Children’s Home (2002) surveyed 856 children and adolescents in London and found 16% reported receiving threatening text messages, with 7% and 4% of those surveyed reporting instances of bullying in internet chat rooms and in email messages respectively. Cyberbullying research, although in its infancy, has found similar deleterious effects for the victim, bystander, and bully as compared to traditional bullying (physical or relational). In Patchin and Hinduja’s study (2006), 42.5% of adolescents who were cyberbullied reported feeling frustrated, 40% felt angry, and 27% felt sad. More than one quarter of the victims stated that the online aggression affected them at home, while more than one third asserted that being cyberbullied affected them at school. Ybarra and Mitchell (2004) found a similar pattern of findings. In their study, a significant amount of victims (9.1%), bystanders (3.8%), and cyberbullies (10.2%) endorsed depressive symptoms. Marr and Field (2001) found in the United Kingdom that sixteen children commit suicide every year due to cyberbullying. Theoretical Framework With only a few empirical studies of cyberbullying, it is difficult to understand who engages in cyberbullying and what factors are involved in its development and

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maintenance. In the literature, the bullying phenomenon has been conceptualized using an ecological framework, understanding bullying as “encouraged and/or inhibited as a result of the complex relationships between the individual, family, peer group, school, community, and culture” (Swearer & Espelage, 2004, p. 3). The premise of this study is that cyberbullying, even with its relative anonymity, occurs within the context of the child, family, and the school community. Most children do not have the option to alter their environment by changing family living arrangements or mandatory policies on school attendance. With 42% of adolescents reporting bullying in the home and 10-15% of students bullied in school on a regular basis, the influence and understanding of the adolescents’ world becomes critical (Dulmus, Theriot, Sowers, & Blackburn, 2004; Kochenderfer-Ladd & Wardrop, 2001). Bullying and Family Context The family may be one of the most consistent and influential contexts in children’s environments. The relationship between parents and children has been extensively researched in relation to behavioral outcomes and aggression. Parenting quality has been previously explained by Maccoby and Martin (1983) as including the variables of responsiveness (level of parental sensitivity in response to a child’s behavior) and demandingness (supervision and discipline style). Shek (2005) also suggested that parenting quality includes parental behavioral control such as parental monitoring, knowledge, expectations, discipline and parental psychological control. These family variables have been shown to be related to childhood aggression (Katz & Gottman, 1996; McHale, Johnson, & Sinclair, 1999). For example Baldry and

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Farrington (1998) found parents of bullies and victims lacked responsiveness toward their children while Bowers, Smith and Binney (1994) characterized parents of bully/victims as neglectful with little or no monitoring of their children’s activities. Current research tends to support previous research findings that family variables such as parental involvement are associated with children’s involvement in bullying (e.g. Espelage, Bosworth, & Simon, 2000; Haynie et al., 2001; Jankauskiene, Kardelis, Sukys, & Kardeliene, 2008). Roth and Brooks-Gunn (2000) suggest family cohesion and parental monitoring serve as protective factors for adolescents, as these concepts provide a level of connectedness, which leads to one’s sense of security. Kliewer et al. (2006) also found cohesive families were more likely to monitor their children, which may prevent children from exposure to negative behaviors and/or association with a deviant peer group. Conversely, Rigby (1993, 1994) found poor family functioning (low cohesion and low responsiveness) was directly related to children’s bully status. Family cohesion has also been shown to be a protective factor for adolescent risk taking behavior. In a recent study of homophobic teasing in a sample of 13,921 high school students (Espelage, Aragon, & Birkett, 2008), parental support was found to be a protective factor against the negative effects of bullying for adolescents who identified themselves as either lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB). Competent parenting has been associated with achievement and prosocial skills, while incompetent parenting has been shown to promote problematic behaviors in children and adolescents (Belsky, 1990; Guidubaldi & Cleminshaw, 1989; Maccoby & Martin, 1983). In a study of 8 th -12 th grade students and their parents Bogenschneider,

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Small and Tsay (1997) found parents with a responsive parenting style had adolescents who perceived them as more competent. Competent parenting was also significantly related to an adolescent’s socialization. Research suggests parents with childrearing competence have children who are better at establishing peer relationships (Guidubaldi & Cleminshaw, 1985). Two characteristics of parenting, support and control, are common factors described as having a significant role in childhood outcomes (Crick & Nelson, 2002; Hart, Nelson, Robinson, Olsen, & McNeilly-Choque, 1998). Parke and Ladd (1992) looked at family variables as a framework in which parent-child interactions function as a reciprocal mechanism through which children learn positive or negative peer interaction skills. For example, parenting styles (authoritarian, authoritative, indulgent, and indifferent [Maccoby & Martin, 1983]) have been associated with the quality of children’s and adolescent’s peer relationships. Marchant, Paulson, and Rothlisberg (2001) found authoritative parenting and teaching styles were positively associated with prosocial development in adolescents. In a recent study by Hines and Paulson (2007) the researchers found parental responsiveness was inversely related to adolescents’ involvement in conflict, while teachers’ responsiveness was found to be insignificant in relation to adolescents’ conflict. Olweus (1994) suggested parents with a permissive parenting style were less likely to address their children’s aggression (bullying) of other children. Family structure has also been shown to have an effect on children’s status as a bully or a victim. For example, Fosse and Holen (2002) found male victims were less likely to have been raised in an environment that included both parents or the biological father. It was theorized that fatherless boys do not benefit from male-to-male social

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modeling and interactions. These early interactions with a father have been shown to be related to a boy’s popularity (MacDonald & Parke, 1984). Bullying and School Environment The family environment is not the only context that may have a significant impact on children’s outcomes. Children are exposed to a social climate of a classroom and learn a plethora of social skills in the classroom environment. Bullying is also considered a product of social processes in the school environment (Woods & Wolke, 2004) and may be maintained by the dynamics of victims, bullies and bystanders alike (Smith, Schneider, Smith, & Ananiadou, 2004). For example, bystanders (Craig, Pepler, & Atlas, 2000) and teachers and staff (Smith et al., 2004) may knowingly or unknowingly affect bullying. In a study of 7 th and 8 th grade students San Antonio and Salzfass (2007) found most students were not confident that staff would notice bullying, take action, and provide protection. Moreover, teachers and staff often erroneously believe that students can effectively deal with bullying on their own (Newman, 2003), and that bullying is a part of life that students must get through (Bradshaw, Sawyer, & O’Brennen, 2007). Understanding and navigating the social aspect of school is often difficult to achieve for those students who are not victimized, let alone those who are chronic victims of bullies. Students who are negatively affected by bullies in their school are more likely to be victims of other forms of maltreatment (Holt, Finkelhor, & Kantor, 2007), and may continue to suffer throughout their school careers. Olweus’ (1995) longitudinal research of adolescents who had been chronically bullied in school showed

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that by age 23 these young adults were more depressed, with lower self-esteem than their nonvictimized peers. These studies seem to highlight the importance of the individual’s school context as well as the context of family and home in bullying and victimization. Given this evidence for an ecological framework for bullying, cyberbullying is conceptualized as a phenomenon that involves the interplay of peer-to-peer contact via technology that may be perpetuated in the social context including peers, family and school. Children and adolescents are using technology more than ever before and in ways that may be harmful to others, it is critical to better understand the extent to which cyberbullying affects our students and develop effective interventions that target cyberbullying in school and at home. The purposes of this study are to investigate the prevalence of cyberbullying as well as other types of bullying (verbal, social, and physical), to examine the association between bullying and school adjustment, and to explore the role of parental and family characteristics and school climate on cyberbullying. Furthermore, the study will contribute to identifying family and school variables that may be important in cyberbullying. Research Questions and Hypotheses: Research Question 1. Are there gender and grade differences in the different types of bullying (physical, social, verbal and cyber) and experiences (perpetration, victimization and witnessing)?

Full document contains 158 pages
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine family and school variables in relation to different types of perpetration, victimization and witnessing experiences (physical, social, verbal and cyber). Students (n=257) in grades 7 to 8 from two middle schools located in a suburb in southeastern Michigan participated in the study. Data were collected during the 2008-2009 school year. Statistically significant differences were found for perpetration and victimization by gender and perpetration and witnessing by grade. No gender and grade interaction results were significant. All types of bullying experiences were positively correlated with cyberbullying and cyber victimization. Bullying experiences were significant predictors of poor school adjustment (low GPA and risky school behavior) and both negative and positive school climates while family variables were significant predictors of bullying experiences. Students with a computer located in a private location with parental monitors installed were more likely to be victims of cyberbullying or engage in cyberbullying themselves. Statistically significant gender and grade differences were found for communication technology use: Females and 8 th graders reported greater use of technology than males and 7th graders. Little research to date has been done in relation to cyberbullying and family and school variables. This study provides support for the importance of cyberbullying research.