Cyberbullying in Adolescent Victims: Perception and Coping

Vol.5,No.2(2011)

Abstract

The present qualitative explorative study deals with cyberbullying from the perspective of adolescents. It focuses mainly on the impacts and consequences of cyberbullying, and on the coping strategies chosen by victims to deal with the situation. The data was obtained through semi-structured interviews with 15 adolescents aged 14-18 years, all of whom were cyberbullying victims.

It was found that cyberbullying experiences led to changes in the victims' behaviour, and that these could be positive in the form of behavioural changes in cyberspace. Mainly this was due to victims creating a cognitive pattern of bullies, which consequently helped them to recognise aggressive people. Bullying also provoked feelings of caution, and brought about restriction in the use of risky online sources of threats as victims tried to prevent its recurrence. Critical impacts occurred in almost all of the respondents’ cases in the form of lower self-esteem, loneliness and disillusionment and distrust of people: The more extreme impacts were self-harm and increased aggression towards friends and family.

Based on their experience, the victims of cyberbullying developed coping strategies in order to cope with cyberbullying. These strategies took several forms: technical defence, activity directed at the aggressor, avoidance, defensive strategies, and social support. The activities of the victims when dealing with this stressful situation varied, which was probably influenced by different contexts, personal traits, and the development of the respondents. The findings further revealed that some coping strategies (i.e. technical coping or telling parents) are in many situations either non-functional or just cannot be used, a theme which is further discussed with respect to previous research in the field.


Keywords:
cyberbullying, adolescence, coping, bully, victim
Author biographies

Veronika Šléglová

Author photoVeronika Šléglová is a M.A. student of Psychology at the Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University. Her main area of interest is cyberbullying and online harrasment. She also focuses on adolescent communication in virtual reality.

Alena Cerna

Author photoAlena Cerna is a Ph.D. student in psychology at the Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University and works at the Institute for Research of Children, Youth and Family within Masaryk University. Her doctoral thesis is focused on the topic of coping with cyberbullying and online harassment and she participates on the research projects “Coping strategies for cyberbullying among Czech adolescents” and “Online risks among Czech adolescents”. Internet and health is also one of her more general interest areas, with an emphasis on health-related online activities of today's youth.
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