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  • 2019HawkinsPhD

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Young people's perceptions and management of cyberbullying in secondary schools: an exploratory study using a socio-ecological lens

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Claire Hawkins
Publication date2019
Number of pages303
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This exploratory, qualitative study investigates youth perceptions of cyberbullying in secondary schools. Using youth participatory action research (YPAR) and drawing on constructivist grounded theory (Charmaz, 2014a) the researcher gained insight into the lived experiences of young people. The researcher worked for an academic year with a group of 13 – 14 year old students to develop their own research project on cyberbullying; alongside this project, in-depth interviews were conducted with twenty-eight students across two schools in areas of socio-economic deprivation. Qualitative data consists of transcriptions of the YPAR meetings, interview data and a focus group conducted by the YPAR group.
Research into cyberbullying has been mainly quantitative to date. This study provides insight into the perceptions and experiences of young people who engage in roles related to cyberbullying: cyber-victims, cyberbully/victims and bystanders. It uncovers the complexity and inter-relatedness of influencing factors which contribute to cyberbullying roles. Young people share their experiences of living in an onlineconnected world which bridges school and home; they discuss the inter-play between these different environments through online connections. Bronfenbrenner’s socioecological framework is used as a holistic lens through which to view these interrelated systems which influence how young people respond to cyberbullying situations.
The original contributions to knowledge are in five areas: constructing a new definition for cyberbullying which addresses the current challenges within the definition; identifying three types of cyber-victimisation which will aid analysis of the causes of cyberbullying; revealing the seriousness of cyberbullying as perceived by adolescents; identifying the dilemma faced by young people when deciding whether to disclose cyber-victimisation to adults, and a means to provide graduated support; and the construction of models to support analysis of cyberbullying in schools drawing on the socio-ecological framework (Bronfenbrenner, 1979, 1994, 2005).