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Open Access Publications from the University of California

High School Students’ Perceptions of Motivations for Cyberbullying: An Exploratory Study

  • Author(s): Varjas, Kris;
  • Talley, Jasmaine;
  • Meyers, Joel;
  • Parris, Leandra;
  • Cutts, Hayley
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY-NC' version 4.0 license

Objectives: Internet usage has increased in recent years resulting in a growing number of documented reports of cyberbullying. Despite the rise in cyberbullying incidents, there is a dearth of research regarding high school students’ motivations for cyberbullying. The purpose of this study was to investigate high school students' perceptions of the motivations for cyberbullying.

Method: We undertook an exploratory qualitative study with 20 high school students, conducting individual interviews using a semi-structured interview protocol. Data were analyzed using Grounded Theory.

Results: The developed coding hierarchy provides a framework to conceptualize motivations, which can be used to facilitate future research about motivations and to develop preventive interventions designed to thwart the negative effects of cyberbullying. The findings revealed that high school students more often identified internally motivated reasons for cyberbullying (e.g., redirect feelings) than externally motivated (no consequences, non-confrontational, target was different).

Conclusion: Uncovering the motivations for cyberbullying should promote greater understanding of this phenomenon and potentially reduce the interpersonal violence that can result from it. By providing a framework that begins to clarify the internal and external factors motivating the behavior, there is enhanced potential to develop effective preventive interventions to prevent cyberbullying and its negative effects. [West J Emerg Med. 2010; 11(3): 270-274.]

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