Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Pamela Harrison

Abstract

Cyberbullying is a common form of harassment and aggression engaged in by today's youth. This phenomenon is affecting primary-school-aged children as technology devices are now made available to elementary school students in rural settings. Based on the framework of Bandura's social cognitive theory, this mixed methods project study included a survey to quantitatively investigate the associations between parental knowledge of the phenomenon of cyberbullying and children's grade levels, and a focus group to gather qualitative data from school principals regarding their perceptions of the extent and impact of cyberbullying in 4 rural elementary schools in Massachusetts. Due to highly skewed survey responses, basic assumptions for chi-square analyses were not met; therefore, frequencies were examined along with the qualitative data that were coded and analyzed for patterns and themes. The 4 principals reported ongoing concerns at the school level that cyberbullying was clearly affecting the school day, school resources, and peer relationships. Survey responses from 162 parents indicated they were not fully aware of the dangers of cyberbullying at all grade levels. In concert with the literature review, these findings were applied to the development of a 12-month online cyber training curriculum for parents and students. Social change implications include minimizing the effects of cyberbullying in schools by training parents to understand social media sites and associated dangers for their children.