Study: Cyberbullying, school bullying associated with lower school performance, mental distressby Patricia on Nov 18, 2011 • 10:53 am 2 Comments
A high proportion of high school students are victims of cyberbullying and school bullying, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health. These forms of bullying are shown to be negatively associated with school performance as well as mental health. However, cyberbullying may be even more psychologically distressing than regular school bullying, as seen in several extreme cases in the last couple years involving this new medium.
Researchers used a regional census of high school students to document the prevalence of cyberbullying and school bullying victimization and their associations with psychological distress. In fall 2008, researchers surveyed 20,406 ninth through 12th graders in Boston’s MetroWest region to assess their bullying victimization and psychological distress, including depressive symptoms, self-injury and suicidality.
A total of 15.8 percent of students reported cyberbullying, and 25.9 percent reported school bullying in the past 12 months. Reports of cyberbullying were higher among girls than among boys, whereas reports of school bullying were similar by gender. Both cyberbullying and school bullying victimization were higher among non-heterosexually identified youths. Victims of bullying reported lower school performance and school attachment. Victims also reported elevated levels of depressive symptoms and suicide attempts.
“Electronic communication allows the perpetrator to maintain anonymity and to post messages to a very wide audience,” said Shari Kessel Schneider in an article published by The Boston Globe, a senior research associate at the Education Development Center and lead writer of the study. “Cyberbullying can occur at any time and any location and doesn’t stop when students leave the schoolyard and enter their own homes.”
The study’s authors concluded, “Our study provides a better understanding of cyberbullying and its relationship to school bullying, which is critical to informing school-based prevention efforts and engaging parents and other community members in combating this significant public health issue.”
Given the high-profile cases of cyberbullying within recent years among teens that led to suicides, “A study like this gives a lot of strength to other findings that have been found anecdotally and in past studies of smaller numbers,” said Elizabeth Englander to The Boston Globe, professor of psychology at Bridgewater State University and director of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center.