Date of Conferral

1-1-2011

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Laura K. Lynn

Abstract

Cyberbullying is harassment through the Internet or other technologies. Forty-two percent of youth nationally have experienced cyberbullying and 53% admitted to being the cyberbully. A lack of understanding by adults of cyberbullying logistics and impact causes cyberbullying to remain a serious issue that has not yet been appropriately addressed within schools. A sequential, mixed methods study was implemented to investigate the prevalence of cyberbullying in one middle school and to determine the nature and impact of the experience in order to inform site-based interventions. Bandura's social learning theory, Bronfenbrenner's ecological framework, and Agnew's strain theory provided this investigation's theoretical foundation. Two separate web-based data collection tools were administered sequentially. Descriptive survey data showed that 37.8% of students had experienced cyberbullying, 56% observed cyberbullying, and that eighth grade students experienced a higher incident rate of cyberbullying (42.1%). Inductive coding of qualitative data from the questionnaire conducted with eighth graders contributed to the identification of emergent themes related to the psychological and educational impact. Specifically, these themes included symptoms of anger, depression, thoughts of violence, and interference with learning. Overall key findings from this study showed that cyberbullying is prevalent at this site and cyberbullying experiences have had a debilitating impact on psychological functioning, environmental comfort, and educational engagement. This study informs social change by providing information to tailor school-based solutions that can effectively decrease incidence of cyberbullying among students within this educational community.