Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Monica Swahn

Second Advisor

Dr. Rodney Lyn

Abstract

Today, school bullying does not just stop in the schoolyard. When children return home after a school day filled with bullying incidents they are oftentimes tormented by a new phenomenon: cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is the willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices. Today, more adolescents and teens have access to technological mediums than ever before. Although different forms of technology can be used in productive manners, they are often misused by youth to torment their peers.

Some researchers believe that cyberbullying can be even more detrimental than traditional bullying because cyberbullies can target victims through a variety of mediums, at any time. Cyberbullying can lead to harms ranging from short to long-term physical, psychological, intrapersonal and interpersonal effects in bullies, victims, and even cyberbystanders.

School administrators struggle with the desire to help protect students from cyberbullying but are unsure of how they can intervene in activities involving off-campus behavior. These administrators have to find balance between protecting victims and avoiding violating the legal rights of bullies. Therefore, legislation and school policies must be updated and implemented to offer more guidance to administrators and protect students against cyberbullying.

The purpose of this capstone project is to synthesize cyberbullying research among school-aged children and describe current policies in place to address this problem. Finally, policy recommendations for the state of Georgia will be offered so that systems and programs created to respond to and prevent cyberbullying may effectively reduce the occurrence of this behavior.

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