The following report was released on August 17, 2016 by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).
This report is the result of an NIJ-funded project but was not published by the U.S. Department of Justice. Researchers acknowledge limitations in the study, including that the majority of data collection was focused in one geographic location, and that study participants were limited in racial/ethnic diversity.
About the Report:
Bullying behaviors among adolescents have migrated online where they are not well understood and lack standardized definitions.
Conceptualizing and defining cyberbullying has been called one of the major challenges in the bullying field. The purpose of this research study was to develop a concept map to define cyberbullying from the perspectives of stakeholders.
This research describes the use of five steps involved with the concept map creation process: preparation, generation, structuring, representation, and interpretation.
Discussions centered on how to describe cyberbullying as perceived as both similar to and distinct from traditional bullying. For example, one unique aspect of cyberbullying noted by participants was that cyberbullying situations could arise from innocuous comments online taken out of context, or jokes that go too far, and that these messages can be virally spread such that they then represent bullying.
The findings from this study illustrate three implications for the criminal justice field in addressing cyberbullying.
First, findings indicate overlap between cyberbullying and traditional bullying based on characteristics of individuals. Participants described similar characteristics of both bullying perpetrators and targets applied to both traditional and cyberbullying, including describing bullying as a way to address insecurities.
Second, the findings show differences in perceptions between cyberbullying and traditional bullying, with distinguishing factors including the cyberbullying capacity for anonymity by “hiding behind screens.”
Finally, the concept map and accompanying conceptual model serve as data-driven visual representations of the complexity of bullying. This concept map includes shared characteristics among perpetrators and targets, tools and approaches, and negative consequences for both actors. The conceptual model suggests that cyberbullying cannot be considered a distinct entity from bullying. However, the results from this research suggest stakeholders perceive that there are unique aspects of cyberbullying that support it as more than just another bullying context.
The report was written by Megan Moreno, M.D., M.S.Ed., M.P.H.
Direct to Full Text Report (26 pages; PDF)