Title

Understanding Factors that Impact Cyberbullying Offending and Victimization

Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice (Ph.D.)

Department

Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Jonathan A. Kringen

Second Advisor

William L. Tafoya

Third Advisor

Jibey Asthappan

Fourth Advisor

Gregory Coram

LC Subject Headings

Cyberbullying

Call No. at the Univ. of New Haven Library

AS36.N290 Crim. Just. 2017 no.2

Abstract

Cyberbullying is a relatively new phenomenon that gained notoriety as social media websites became popular. Previous research placed heavy focus on middle- and high-school aged students, however, a gap in the literature exists regarding cyberbullying behaviors among the collegiate population. Over the past five years, the availability of social media platforms has grown exponentially. Legislation regarding deviant digital behavior has been adopted by local municipalities and on a state by state basis, however, universal federal law still does not exist in regards to cyberbullying.

In an attempt to identify the theoretical underpinnings of cyberbullying behaviors a survey questionnaire was administered to undergraduate classes at the University of New Haven during the Fall 2016 semester. A total of 447 students responded to the in-class survey questionnaires. The average age of the sample was 21 years old, and 202 males and 230 females responded. The analyses uncovered important dimensional factors as they related to the construct of cyberbullying on three levels: victimization, guardianship, and offending. Frequency of social media use increased the chances of cyberbullying victimization, whereas, risk (internet communication) was related to cyberbullying guardianship but risk (social behaviors) was related to victimization. Prior victimization was the strongest predictor of exhibiting cyberbullying offender behaviors. Impulsivity (non-planning) only had an impact on cyberbullying guardianship, otherwise impulsivity, low self-control, and self-guardianship had no impact on cyberbullying behaviors. Expanding past the construct of cyberbullying victimization, offending, and guardianship, the measurement models did suggest support that impulsivity and low self-control are conceptually different and therefore should be treated as separate concepts.

Additional exploratory studies are needed to identify other concepts that may drive cyberbullying behaviors and identification of by-stander guardianship. Programs need to be implemented and evaluated for effectiveness. Further research is needed in terms of colleges and universities as a whole, as this study was specific to the University of New Haven. However, the popularity of social media sites are increasing as the years go by and the incoming Freshman are now digital natives. Training seminars and educational showcases are needed in the college and university setting to address the issue of cybervictimization.

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