Understanding How Schools Respond to Cyberbullying
thesisposted on 10.12.2012, 00:00 by John B. Snakenborg
The School Survey on Cyberbullying: Understanding How School Officials Prevent, Interpret, and Discipline Cyber-Aggression John Snakenborg, PhD Special Education University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago, Illinois (2012) Dissertation Committee Chair: Richard Van Acker A representative sample of approximately 2,000 public school principals in the Midwestern United States were surveyed about school policies and practices to prevent cyberbullying. They were also asked to interpret whether incidents involving problematic Internet and cell phone experiences of students were examples of cyberbullying. They also provided a typical disciplinary response to various incidents of cyberbullying. There were several interesting findings, including the fact that more than 60% of school officials do not use a specific curriculum or program to address bullying in their schools. Approximately 25% of respondents indicated that there had not been a single instance of bullying in their school in the past month and approximately 50% said that there had not been a single instance of cyberbullying in their school in the past month. Previous research has indicated that school staff tends to underestimate student victimization, which may be the case here. It was also found that, while there is no lack of technology available for student use, 44% of school officials reported that they did not have a full-time staff member dedicated to technology use and instruction. Data were analyzed to uncover differences in interpretations of incidents involving aggression and the use of technology based on respondent school level and gender. School officials from elementary schools were more likely to endorse any act of cyber-aggression as an act of cyberbullying. Ratings of incidents indicate that a continuum of examples and non-examples of cyberbullying can be established, although there do appear to be contradictions in how school officials define cyberbullying. Differences were found in interpretation of incidents based on respondent school level and respondent gender. Data also were analyzed to uncover differences in the selection of a disciplinary response to acts of cyberbullying based on respondent school level and gender. Elementary and middle school officials selected suspension as a disciplinary response more often than expected. Male respondents more often chose disciplinary responses that were less punitive compared to female respondents. These differences need to be examined further, to understand the role of school context and respondent gender on interpretation of and response to aggression.