Authors: Emily L. Helfrich, Jacqlyn Yourell, Yi-Wen Su, Jennifer L. Doty
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jennifer L. Doty
College: Agricultural and Life Sciences
Emerging research suggests that victims and perpetrators of cyberbullying are at risk for several psychological problems, including depressive symptoms and suicide ideation. While cyberbullying among youth most often occurs at home, there is little research on the role of parental involvement in prevention and intervention strategies. The goal of the current study was to (1)identify effective protective strategies that parents use to help youth avoid cyberbullying involvement and (2)explore the strategies parents use to build youth’s coping capacity when cyberbullying involvement does occur. Researchers conducted seven focus groups, each consisting of two to five participants. Participants were 26 parents (88% female, 69% White) with at least one child in fourth through sixth grade. Results revealed three major conceptual themes: communication, monitoring, and professional resources. Two subthemes of communication emerged: promoting perspective (i.e., helping victims understand how a bully may feel or helping perpetrators understand how their actions affect others) and empowerment (i.e., building confidence in youth to buffer negative effects of cyberbullying on self-esteem). Findings reinforce the importance of parent involvement in cyberbullying prevention efforts and inform the development of future prevention and intervention programs.