Running Head: BULLYING AND CYBERBULLYING PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT 1
The Role of Parents with Helping Schools Combat Bullying and Cyberbullying
California State University, Long Beach
Chapter I: Introduction Bullying and Cyberbullying have been a constant issue in schools across the world. In the US alone, 7,066,000 students from the age of 12 through 18 reported of being bullied and 1,521,000 reported they were cyberbullied as found in the National Center for Educational Statistics (2009). The alarming statistic is that cyberbullying is on the rise and continues to exponentially grow. Schools are vulnerable to cyberbullying due to the ineffective methods used for bullying since cyberbullying mainly occurs outside of schools.
From my professional experience, I have observed that middle school students are allowed to watch movies which are rated R and tend to showcase violence and inappropriate behaviors. Children also watch reality TV shows that demonstrate inappropriate behaviors, which teens imitate and mimic. Teens often share with me that they would be tired as a result of texting all night. The questions I ask myself are whether parents are informed about these activities and if they allow these activities to go on in their households? I would like to explore how it contributes to cyberbullying. I definitely believe that with teamwork, teachers, parents, and schools need to collaborate to battle bullying. For years schools have created and implemented preventative programs to attempt to deal with bullying in the classroom and playground. With the changing times and technology advancements, bullying has taken a different form which is known as cyberbullying.
Many definitions have been formulated about what bullying and cyberbullying are. For instance as Walrave & Heirman (2011) described it, “Cyberbullying was simply defined as bullying over the internet or mobile phone, so that two electronic devices used most commonly by children for bullying others were included.” Many different types of technological communication is being used to bully, included but not limited to social networks, texting, email, and many other forms of communication. Unlike bullying which was known for a combination of physical and emotional type of bullying, cyberbullying is a psychological type of bullying. Cyberbullying at schools would be difficult to track for a perpetrator since cell phones are not allowed and teachers are not capable of tracking them, “whereas outside school no one is checking you” (Smith et al., 2008, p. 379). Therefore, because cyberbullying is difficult to monitor, it is important for parent involvement to help monitor these behaviors outside of the school. Parents and children need to learn what cyberbullying is and how to deal with it.
Purpose of the Study There are many studies that have been designed to understand bullying and cyberbullying, which have contributed to the development of programs and strategies to battle bullying. The purpose of the study is to further investigate the role of parental awareness and involvement, and what is being enforced at home to prevent children from becoming victims, perpetrators or bystanders. Teens are more exposed to technology and media in comparison to previous generations. Hence it is essential to understand why cyberbullying is increasing and how can teachers, parents and school help in reducing the occurrence of cyberbullying. Parental involvement is important in combating cyberbullying since it usually occurs off campus and schools are unable to implement programs and monitor children’s behavior. The study aims to observe if parent awareness and involvement on cyberbullying has an impact on his/her child participating in cyberbullying as a perpetrator. The study will fill the gaps that currently exist between parents, students, teachers and schools. It will expose if parent awareness and involvement are important in combating cyberbullying. Through my professional experience this topic is sensitive because the different views people have on what is cyberbullying. Many believe that, “kids are just being kids and it is normal to go through these stages.”
What impact does parent involvement have on his/her child contributing in cyberbullying during middle school?
What correlation does parent awareness on cyberbullying have on his/her child contributing to cyberbullying?
Significance of the study The research demonstrates that bullying and cyberbullying is becoming a problem at schools and therefore we need to find methods that will help reduce the occurrence among teens.
“According to Ybarra and Mitchell (2004a), the prevalence rate of Internet usage among youth continue to increase, as a result, demonstrations of online peer aggression (e.g., demeaning insults, threatening languages), have been taunted as contributing to high profile bullying cases in 2003 and 2006” (Wong-Lo & Bullock, 2011, p. 64). A better understanding of what parents are doing, can aid other parents in an attempt to mitigate the bullying and cyberbullying that is occurring. In the study by Walrave and Heirman (2011) it was concluded that further studies were necessary to explore the potential relationship of “cyberbullying involvement, reporting, coping and parenting styles in general as well as parents’ commitment to their children’s information and communication technologies use.” The findings will help to conclude if parent awareness and involvement play a significant role in students participating in cyberbullying. If there is a correlation, the schools can implement a cyberbullying awareness program to help parents understand what it is and how they can be involved in helping their child not participate in cyberbullying behaviors. The study will also help to demonstrate that this is not only a parent problem nor a school’s problem. It is a problem that affects both parents and schools. Therefore, both parties should collaborate for a solution instead of blaming each other for occurrence of cyberbullying.
Chapter II: Literature Review In an effort to obtain more information about cyberbullying, we researched peer reviewed studies/articles which provided in-depth information on what cyberbullying is. We focused on articles that provided more information on the role of parents in dealing with cyberbullying. We felt that parental awareness and active role in the children’s activities would reduce bullying and cyberbullying. The majority of the articles utilized surveys to collect information about participant’s background and perspective about bullying. The findings from the literature review demonstrated a lack of research exist about parental involvement when discussing cyberbullying. The relationship between parents and children are a key factor in preventing cyberbullying from occurring.
The purpose of the study is to determine the level of awareness of parents and if they are able to distinguish when cyberbullying is occurring and whether their child is a victim, bully or a bystander. “In addition, parents, due to a lack of time and/or inadequate knowledge of computers, are unable to inspect what their children are doing when they are on their computers” (Popovic-Citic, Djuric & Cvetkovic, 2011, p. 413). Parents are unaware or do not fully understand the evolution of bullying. According to the article by Wong-Lo and Bullock (2011), “the evolutionary process of bullying to cyberbullying and its transformation from traditionally defined observable behaviors (e.g., face-to-face, physical contact) to aggressive behaviors that are digitally executed (e.g., text messaging, online postings)” is on the rise as more children are resorting to cyberbullying. Parents often are unaware that cyberbullying is occurring in their home due to the nature of how cyberbullying occurs. In the article Shariff (2008) stated “that there is disagreement among parents and schools as to who is responsible for monitoring and preventing children and young people from bullying their peers online” (as stated by Wong-Lo & Bullock, 2011, p.66). Parents often relinquish full control of online activity to their children with little to no parental control. Parental awareness about technology advancements and what is new in the cyberworld, will aid parents’ ability to make sure the children are behaving.
Many authors have defined what they believe is cyberbullying. For instance Aftab (2006) “identified two methods of cyberbullying: (a) direct cyberbullying, which refers to messages transmitted directly from the bully to the victim; and (b) cyberbullying by proxy, which refers to using others to participate in the bullying act toward the victim” (as stated by Wong-Lo & Bullock, 2011, p. 66). Research has shown that parents believe they understand what cyberbullying is and are aware of what their child is doing. A survey conducted “by i-SAFE America (2005-2006) found that while 93% of parents felt they had a good idea of what his/her child was doing on the internet, 41% of students in grades 5-12 said they did not share with their parents what they do or where they go online” (Wong-Lo & Bullock, 2011, p.67).
Research from Smith, Mahdavi, Carvalho, Fisher, Russell, and Tippett, (2008) focused on understanding the nature and the impact of cyberbullying with secondary school children. Cyberbullying is a new form of bullying that has evolved in the past nine years. The study examines seven different types of media, age, sex differences, and the attempt by schools to control the use of mobile phones and internet at schools. Two studies were performed by the researchers, the first study dealt with the different types of media. In the second study, the research was based on internet usage. Knowing what websites and social media sites the children use is important for parents to know. Helping parents become more aware about what cyberbullying is and where and when it occurs can ultimately aid in alleviating the issues encountered with this type of bullying.
Many articles mentioned the involvement of parents with teachers and schools but the studies did not further explore how the parents can be more involved with dealing with cyberbullying. An aspect that reoccurred in a few of the articles was the constant occurrence of cyberbullying. In one of the articles, researchers’ believe “cyberbullying is intentional, deliberate behavior carried out repeatedly over time” (Patchin & Hinduja, 2010, p.615). Being cyber bullied is not coincidental and bullies will attempt to bully an individual whenever possible. The research performed by Murray-Harvey and Slee (2010), found that the functionality of the family directly influenced the way children behaved outside the family or while on the computer. Parents are unaware of the methods that exist which can help to monitor his/her child’s conversations while on the computer. This would aid in reducing cyberbullying, hence the reason why parent involvement is important. “School officials are sometimes reluctant to get involved in incidents that frequently originate or occur away from campus, but failure to do so could place students at risk for multiple developmental issues” (Patchin & Hinduja, 2010, p.619).
Although not much research has been done on parental involvement about cyberbullying, many studies have been performed to examine teenager’s cyberbullying habits. For instance a study by Walrave and Heirman (2011), exposed if teenagers that have access to the internet “in their bedrooms are more likely to engage in cyberbullying.” The study further explores sharing a computer with other family members in the family room and the likelihood of being involved in cyberbullying. Parents would have access to the children’s browsing history which can help parents become more involved in their child’s cyber experience. By sharing a computer with family members, parents will be able to coach their child to avoid cyber bullies. Parents can also help their child understand what information to share online and what information not to share. The study by Walrave & Heirman (2011) further emphasized the importance of sharing information, were “youngsters who reveal personal details on a blog or profile page are significantly more involved in cyberbullying perpetration and victimization.” Keeping personal details private can often be a preventive way of exposing yourself to being a victim of cyberbullying. Children do not often think of the consequences that a piece of information can bring and it is the parents’ responsibility to educate their children. Furthermore, parental internet controls will also aid in minimizing the inappropriate behavior of cyberbullies. Being proactively involved can help parents avoid a tragedy. Many researchers believe “Cyberbullying is an activity that typically slips under the adult radar” (Walrave & Heirman, 2011, p.69).
Many suicides in the past decades have been attributed to bullying. Cyberbullying has taken many shapes and forms and can affect a child in many ways. In a study by Couvillon & Ilieva (2011), “a young 13-year-old girl from Missouri who died of suicide after being humiliated by her 49-year-old neighbor on a social networking website” is a prime example of what cyberbullying can cause. Parents’ involvement in preventing and stopping their child from being cyberbullied by any human being has become an important factor. Cyberbullying has gone beyond the schools control, where parents play a bigger role in the fight against cyberbullying. Due to the nature of cyberbullying, the school’s conventional approach to bullying is ineffective. Parents played a lesser role with conventional bullying and will need to play a bigger role with cyberbullying. As identified by Slonje and Smith (2008), there are three challenges that schools and parents will face when attempting to address cyberbullying which are: popularity of social network websites and digital devices, the nature of electronic communication devices which allow cyberbullying to be viewed by many aside from the intended targeted victim, and third, the fact that a cyber-bully can be anonymous (as stated by Couvillon & Ilieva, 2011, p.96-97). Parents are often the individuals that provide the devices in which children use to cyber-bully and also provide the internet access that they need to target others. Even though parents will play a big role with cyberbullying, in order to help make preventive programs “to be effective, this expansion and the process of building successful prevention programs should be a joint effort of school, teachers, students, family members, law enforcement, and community” (Couvillon & Ilieva, 2011, p.97). Parents will need to be able to intervene on an individual level due to the involved legal resources, mediators and law enforcement that might be involved.
The researched found demonstrated the importance of parent awareness and involvement, but did not propose a method or plan of execution. I have concluded that a study is needed to understand parent involvement and how parent involvement can have an impact on cyberbullying. The study will be structured in such a way that bullies and non bullies will be identified and the parents’ of such individuals will be invited to participate in the study. Once the list of participants has been selected, a survey will be conducted to obtain information of parent knowledge and involvement in their child’s internet usage, cell phone usage, and any other digital communication. After the data is collected, the data will be analysis to observe if students who have been classified as bullies have parents who are aware of cyberbullying and are involved in his/her child’s usage of internet, cell phone and other media. Based on current research and more research to be executed, parental involvement may contribute to alleviating cyberbullying.
Chapter III: Methodology Procedure The study will take place in an urban middle school from Long Beach Unified School. Fifty-three percent of the school population is eligible for discounted/free lunch. The focus of this study is to gather information about parental awareness and involvement with regards to cyberbullying. The researcher will meet with the counselor to obtain a list of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students who have been involved and identified as bullies and students who have never been in any school fights or any violent behaviors. The students on the list will be pulled out of Physical Education class. The school counselor and the researcher will meet with the group of students of different grade levels to inform them about the survey and the study. Students will be given a parent consent form to take home and the researcher will await to see how many students and parents will be willing to partake in the study. Once all parent consent forms are collected, the researcher will select 10 students from each grade level. Each level will have five students who have been involved in violent behaviors and five students who have not been in involved in violent behaviors. The study will be conducted in a three week period. The first week will be spent collecting data on the participants. In the second week, parents and students will take the survey on cyberbullying (Appendix A for parents and B for students). Parents will also be interviewed on the phone by the phone. Lastly, during the third week, the data collected will be analyzed.
Subjects The study will use stratified random sampling. 30 students and 42 parents will participate in this study. 10 students from each grade level will be divided in two groups. The groups are composed of five students who have been involved in violence and five students who have not been involved in any violence behavior for each grade level. The parents will also be placed in two groups: Parents of students who have been in trouble due to violence and Parents of students who have not been in trouble for violent behaviors.
Instrumentation The instruments utilize for the study will be surveys and phone interviews. The two instruments were chosen due to the nature of the study and the limited time that parents may have to provide feedback. The survey questions will investigate the students’ and parents’ awareness of cyberbullying. The questions will also inquire about the involvement of parents with the students’ web browsing, cell phone usage, social networking, chat rooms, etc. To further expand on the survey questions, parents will be interviewed by the researcher during the second week to get a better understanding of parents’ awareness on cyberbullying. Parents will share their experiences and methods for dealing with cyberbullying with the researcher. By utilizing the surveys and the interviews, it will enable the researcher to assess the reliability between both instruments. During the last week of the study, the data collection will be analyzed to examine if parent awareness and involvement play a role in students participating in cyberbullying.
Data Analysis The surveys and phone interviews data will be collected and analyzed. The researcher will examine for any patterns and themes. The surveys and phone interviews will be compared and contrasted. The data collected from the students will be utilized as a comparison with the parent responses. An ANNOVA statistical analysis will be conducted for the students since there will be three different age groups of students participating in the study. The two groups will be classified by boys and girls. The treatments will be bullies and non-bullies. The parent responses will be graphed to better understand the answer breakdown from the survey. A percentage will also be calculated from the parents’ responses to analyze the highest percentage answer. A t-test was not adequate for the study since the participants are not being measured in two different treatment conditions.
Cyberbullying – Parental Survey Questions
My understanding of cyber bullying is based on:
My child is or has been a target of cyber bullying
What I’ve heard from other parents talking about cyber bullying
My child’s explanation about other children experiencing cyberbullying
I do not have a clear understanding about cyber bullying
I have obtained cyber safety information from:
The school my child attends