The findings were reported in March 2011 at the American Psychology and Law Society international conference in Miami, Fl.
Cyberbullying is repeated and intentional bullying using mediums of technology, such as the Internet and cell phones.
Psychology Professor William Fremouw has been overseeing research done by one of his graduate students, Allison Schenk.
Schenk is doing her master’s thesis on the impact of cyberbullying among college students.
Schenk conducted an online survey on if and how undergraduate students at WVU were cyberbullied and she received 799 responses, 572 females and 227 males ranging in age from 18-24.
Of those 799, 69 said they were a victim of cyberbullying on more than one occasion. To get to that point, those 69 said they had both experienced cyberbullying at WVU and endorsed personally being the victim of at least one form of cyberbullying victimization four or more times. In addition, of those who have been cyberbullied four of them have attempted suicide.
The 69 students had higher occurrences of depression, anxiety and paranoia than the control group.
“It is easy for these bullies to hide behind a computer screen,” Schenk said.
There is current legislation being discussed on victims of cyberbullying. The Jason Flatt Act has been created to help people recognize suicide signs and increase prevention and education methods. The legislation was developed in memory of Jason Flatt, a young man who committing suicide after experiencing cyberbullying.
The West Virginia House of Delegates recently passed an Anti-Bullying Bill earlier this month. Now it is waiting to be approved by the state Senate.
The bill will give West Virginia schools authority to strengthen and enforce rules on bullying in schools and on buses. It also covers cyberbullying.
The next portion of Schenk’s research is going to look at the perpetrators of cyberbullying, as well as the people in their lives. Schenk said the parents, peers and partners of those who cyber bully will give some insight to their destructive and dangerous behavior. So far, there is no research on this subject.
CONTACT: Rebecca Herod, Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
304-293-7405, ext. 5251, Rebecca.Herod@mail.wvu.edu