The Relationship between the Processes of Moral Disengagement and Youth Perceptions of Cyberbullying Behaviors during Th...

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Title:
The Relationship between the Processes of Moral Disengagement and Youth Perceptions of Cyberbullying Behaviors during Their Final Semester of High School
Physical Description:
1 online resource (197 p.)
Language:
english
Creator:
Moses, Holly T
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University of Florida
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Gainesville, Fla.
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Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree:
Doctorate ( Ph.D.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Curriculum and Instruction, Teaching and Learning
Committee Chair:
ROSS,DORENE D
Committee Co-Chair:
ADAMS,ALYSON JOYCE
Committee Members:
PIGG,ROBERT M,JR
BARNETT,ROSEMARY V
MACINNES,JANN W

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
cyberbullying -- disengagement -- moral -- youth
Teaching and Learning -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
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Curriculum and Instruction thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract:
This study explored college freshmen students’ recount of their perceptions of cyberbullying behaviors during their last semester of high school. The Theory of Moral Disengagement (MD) was applied to determine the causal links between the constructs. A modified version of Krause’s (2002) instrument development process was applied to create a behavior-specific instrument assessing student perceptions of cyberbullying behaviors and their experiences with electronic media. The final instrument included 23 questions, and was administered online to the target population. This study utilized a correlational research design to describe the statistical association between multiple variables. Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated to examine the relationship between the dependent and independent variables. The majority of the correlations were positive, significant, and ranged from moderately weak to weak, which indicated that linear associations exist between the dependent variables and the processes of MD.Linear regression analyses were conducted for each research question to better describe the relationship between the dependent variables and the processes of MD. Significant regression equations were found, which indicated significant results for each research question. This study’s results suggested that students’ justify cyberbullying, specific cyberbullying behaviors, as well as cyberbullying based on certain victim characteristics using the processes of MD. While MD1, cognitive restructuring, proved to be a recurring crutch for which students justified cyberbullying, MD3, distortion of negative consequences, and MD4, blaming/dehumanizing the victim were used by students as well. MD2, displacement of responsibility, was the only process of MD that was not significantly associated with students’ cyberbullying perceptions. The present study’s results confirmed that cyberbullying is a real issue among high school students, as participants’ reported a high degree of involvement in cyberbullying as the perpetrator, victim, and observer. Because this study was the first of its kind, there is an important need for future studies concentrated on cyberbullying and the theory of MD. By engaging in more research on the theory of moral disengagement, advances in knowledge in this area of cyberbullying research can inform existing intervention and prevention efforts, as well as influence future school initiatives to combat cyber victimization.
General Note:
In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note:
Includes vita.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references.
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Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
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This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Holly T Moses.
Thesis:
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2013.
Local:
Adviser: ROSS,DORENE D.
Local:
Co-adviser: ADAMS,ALYSON JOYCE.

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lcc - LD1780 2013
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UFE0046186:00001


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1 RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE PROCESSES OF MORAL DISENGAGEMENT AND YOUTH PERCEPTIONS OF CYBERBULLYING BEHAVIORS DURING THEIR FINAL SEMESTER OF HIGH SCHOOL By HOLLY TURNER MOSES A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2013

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2 2013 Holly Turner Moses

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3 To my husband without his encouragement, support, patience, and most of all, unwavering love this dream would not have been realized

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS So many people endured this 5 by the outpouring of love and support from f amily, friends, and colleagues would be an understatement. I will attempt to pay tribute to those individuals who helped me to First, I must thank my mom, and the long lineage of strong females she (and I) were bor n from. No goal was made clearer to me as a child, than the fact that I was going to college. Little did we know that I would graduate a Gator three times, and also I t hank M om and D ad for caring so deeply about my educational aspirations ; and for providing emotional, spiritual and financial support along the way. As the last of four girls, I must thank my sisters, BJ, Wendy, and Amy for demonstrating the payoff for hard work and perseverance. They all served as excellent role models to me so very much The following ladies in my life feel like sisters : Samantha, Sara, Alexa, and Catie I do not know what I would do without them We are cosmically connected, and I could not have achi eved this milestone without their love, support, and e ncouragement. I love them all very much and I am eternally grateful for their friendship I thank Pam and Sarai my mother s in law, a s well as Erin and Allison my sister s in law, for their love and support. They often asked how school was going, inquired abou t my research, and told me everything would work out. I am grateful for their prayers and encouragement throughout this process.

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5 I also owe great thanks to my PhD friends : Monica Webb, Julia Varnes, Ta r yn Buckley Gungeet Joshi Naz Erenguc, Julie Mertin, Karina Hensberry, Katrina Short, and Rhonda Williams. This group of amazing scholars provided stress relief and emotional support when ever needed, and undoubtedly made this process manageable. I love that I earned this degree with these ladies, and truly thank each of them for the support they provided I thank my committee members ( Drs. Dorene Ross, Alyson Adams, R. Morgan Pigg, Rosemary B arnett, and Jann MacInnes ) for their patience, encouragement, and unwavering support. I appreciate the unique gifts and special talents each of them shared with me I am eternally grateful for the attention shown to me, time devoted to me, and sage advice shared with me. I also acknowledge my precious son, Turner Many have referred to me as a super hero in disguise because I balance d a full time job and doctoral program, while keeping up with a toddler. The truth is that Turner was my sunshine at the e nd of the day. No matter how tired, stressed out, or discouraged I was, Turner instantly brightened my day. I love Turner Lee Philip to the moon and back Finally, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the myriad contributions made by my husband a nd soul mate Brian J. Moses. I asked him to bear the social, financial and emotional burden of living with a part time doctoral student determined to maintain a full time job. In return, he made my life easier and less stressful Simply put, he made t his doctoral degree possible. I love Brian more than words could ever say, and I f eel deeply blessed to have such an amazing partner to enjoy life with.

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6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 9 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 11 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 12 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 14 Problem ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 15 Rationale ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 15 Research Questions ................................ ................................ ............................... 17 Delimitations ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 17 Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 18 A ssumptions ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 19 Definition of Terms ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 19 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 20 2 LITERATURE REV IEW ................................ ................................ .......................... 22 Youth Violence and Bullying in the United States ................................ ................... 22 Cyberbullying ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 26 Definition ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 28 Repeated communication ................................ ................................ .......... 29 Intended harm or discomfort ................................ ................................ ...... 30 Definition Adopted for my Study ................................ ................................ ....... 30 Impact of Cyberbullying on Youth ................................ ................................ ..... 31 Health and academic concerns ................................ ................................ .. 31 Aggressive behaviors and violence ................................ ............................ 32 Suicide ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 33 Prevalence of Cyberbul lying ................................ ................................ ............. 34 Cyberbullying and Traditional Bullying ................................ ................................ .... 37 Theory of Moral Disengagement ................................ ................................ ............. 40 Cognitive Restructuring ................................ ................................ .................... 42 Minimizing Agency ................................ ................................ ........................... 43 Disregarding/Distorting Negative Consequences ................................ ............. 45 Blaming/Dehumanizing the Victim ................................ ................................ .... 45 Moral Disengagement and Cyberbullying ................................ ............................... 47 Moral Disengagement and Bullying ................................ ................................ .. 47

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7 Moral Disengagement and Comparable Cyberbullying Study 1 ....................... 49 Moral Disengagement and Compara ble Cyberbullying Study 2 ....................... 53 Conclusions for Consideration and Study Rationale ................................ ............... 56 Theory of Moral Disengagement ................................ ................................ ...... 57 Study Subjects ................................ ................................ ................................ 57 Instrument Development ................................ ................................ .................. 59 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 59 3 METHODOLOGY ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 63 Research Design ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 64 Research Variables ................................ ................................ ................................ 64 Measurements: Instrument Development Process ................................ ................. 6 5 Literature review ................................ ................................ ............................... 65 Identify concepts and c onceptual framework ................................ .................... 68 Development of Preliminary Measures ................................ ............................. 68 Review by Expert Panel ................................ ................................ ................... 70 Cognitive Interviews ................................ ................................ ......................... 72 Pilot Test ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 74 Formal investigation ................................ ................................ ......................... 79 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 80 4 RESULTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 83 Instrument ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 83 Pilo t Test ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 84 Final Study ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 86 Demographics ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 87 Research Question 1: ................................ ................................ ............................. 90 Research Question 2: ................................ ................................ ............................. 92 Research Question 3: ................................ ................................ ............................. 94 Research Questi on 4: ................................ ................................ ............................. 97 Research Question 5: ................................ ................................ ............................. 99 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 100 5 SUMMARY, CONCLUSI ONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS ................................ 116 Summary and Discussion ................................ ................................ ..................... 117 Cyberbullying and Moral Disengagement ................................ ....................... 117 Acceptability for cyberbullying and cyberbullying behaviors .................... 119 Seriousness for cyberbullying behaviors ................................ .................. 121 Acceptability for cyberbullying based on victim characteristics ................ 124 Seriousness for cyberbullying based on victim characteristics ................. 126 Justification for cyberbullying ................................ ................................ ... 128 General Findings from the MD Scales ................................ ............................ 129 Prevalence of Cyberbullying ................................ ................................ ........... 133 Cyberbullying Observers ................................ ................................ ................ 135

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8 Implications ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 135 Implications for Re search ................................ ................................ ............... 136 Implications for Health Educators ................................ ................................ ... 137 Implications for School Officials ................................ ................................ ...... 139 Final Thoughts ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 140 APPENDIX A COGNITIVE INTERVIEW CONSENT ................................ ................................ ... 149 B COGNITIVE INTERVIEW GUIDE ................................ ................................ ......... 151 C STUDENT EMAIL CONTACT: COGNITIVE INTERVIEW ................................ .... 153 D PILOT SURVEY CONSENT ................................ ................................ ................. 154 E PILOT SURVEY INSTRUMENT ................................ ................................ ........... 156 F STUDENT EMAIL CONTACT: PILOT STUDY ................................ ..................... 168 G FINAL STUDY SURVEY CONSENT ................................ ................................ .... 171 H FINAL SURVEY INSTRUMENT ................................ ................................ ........... 173 I STUDENT EMAIL CONTACT: FINAL STUDY ................................ ...................... 185 LIST OF REFERENC ES ................................ ................................ ............................. 189 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 197

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9 LIST OF TABLES Table page 4 1 Processes of Moral Disen gagement sub scale reliability scores ...................... 102 4 2 Processes of Moral Disengagement sub scale inferential statistics .................. 102 4 3 Age of s urvey participants ................................ ................................ ................ 102 4 4 Race breakdown for female survey participants and total population ............... 103 4 5 Race breakdown for male su rvey participants and total population .................. 103 4 6 Participant sexual orientation ................................ ................................ ............ 104 4 7 Type of high school attended ................................ ................................ ............ 104 4 8 Participant high school popularity level ................................ ............................. 104 4 9 Correlations between the four processes of moral disengagement, acceptability for cy berbullying, and acceptability for cyberbullying behaviors ... 105 4 10 Regression coefficients for the four processes of moral disengagement and acceptability for cyberbullying ................................ ................................ ........... 105 4 11 Regression coefficients for moral disengagement and acceptability for cyberbullying behaviors (collapsed) ................................ ................................ .. 105 4 12 Regression coefficie nts for the four processes of moral disengagement and acceptability for cyberbullying behaviors (individually) ................................ ..... 106 4 13 Correlations between the four processes of moral disengagement and level of seriousness regarding cyberbullying behaviors ................................ ............ 107 4 14 Regression coefficients for moral disengagement and level of seriousness regarding cyberbullying behaviors (collapsed) ................................ .................. 108 4 15 Regression coefficients for moral disengagement and level of seriousness regarding cyberbullying behaviors (individually) ................................ ............... 108 4 16 Correlations between the four processes of moral disengagement and acceptability for cyberbullying based on victim characteristics ......................... 110 4 17 Regression coefficients for moral disengagement an d acceptability for cyberbullying based on victim characteristics (collapsed) ................................ 110 4 18 Regression coefficients for moral disengagement and acceptability for cyberbullying based on victim char acteristics (individually) .............................. 111

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10 4 19 Correlations between the four processes of moral disengagement and level of seriousness regarding cyberbullying based on victim characteristics ........... 112 4 20 Regression coefficients for moral disengagement and level of seriousness regarding cyberbullying based on victim characteristics (collapsed) ................ 113 4 21 Regression coefficients for moral disengagement and level of seriousness regarding cyberbullying based on victim characteristics (individually) .............. 113 4 22 Correlations betw een the processes of moral disengagement and justification for cyberbullying ................................ ................................ ............................... 115 4 23 Regression coefficients for moral disengagement and justification for cyberbullying ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 115 5 1 Acceptability of cyberbullying ................................ ................................ ........... 143 5 2 Acceptability and cyberbullying behaviors (percentage) ................................ ... 143 5 3 Seriousness and cyberbullying behaviors (percentage) ................................ ... 144 5 4 Acceptability and victim characteristics (percentage) ................................ ....... 144 5 5 Seriousness and victim characteristics (percentage) ................................ ........ 145 5 6 Justification for cyberbullying ................................ ................................ ............ 145 5 7 MD 1 cognitive restructuring frequency data (percentages) .............................. 146 5 8 MD2 minimizing agency frequency data (percentages) ................................ .... 146 5 9 MD3 distortion of negative consequences frequency data (percentages) ........ 147 5 10 MD4 blaming or dehumanizing the victim frequency data (percentages) ......... 147 5 11 Inferential statistics for the MD scales ................................ .............................. 148 5 12 C yberbullying among participants during their last semester of high school (percentages) ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 148

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11 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 2 1 Theory of moral disengagement ................................ ................................ ......... 62 3 1 Instrument development process ................................ ................................ ........ 82

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12 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE PROCESS ES OF MORAL DISENGAGEMENT AND YOUTH PERCEPTIONS OF CYBERBULLY ING BEHAVIORS DURING THEIR FINAL SEMESTER OF HIGH SCHOOL By Holly Turner Moses December 201 3 Chair: Dorene D. Ross Major: Curriculum and Instruction My study examined the relationship between the processes of moral disengagement and cyberbullying during their last semester of high school. The t heory of Moral Disengagement (MD) was applied to explore the correlation between the constructs. 2002 instrument development process was applied to create a behavior specific instrument assessing student perceptions of cyberbullying behaviors and their experiences with electronic media T he f in al instrument Student Experiences with Electronic Media and Perceptions of Cyberbullying Behaviors included 23 questions, and was administered online to the target population. My study u sed a correlational research design to describe the statistical association among multiple variables. Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated to examine the relationship between dependent and independent variables. Most of the correlations were positive and significant, and ranged from moderately weak to weak, indicat ing linear associations between dependent variab les and the processes of MD.

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13 L inear regression analyses were conducted for each research question to better describe the relationship between dependent variables and the process es of MD S ignificant regression equations were found, indicat ing significan t results for each research question. S tudy results suggested that students justify cyberbullying, specific cyb erbullying behaviors, and cyberbullying based on certain victim characteristics using the processes of MD. While MD1, cognitive restructuring, was used consistently by students to justif y cyberbullying, MD3, distortion of negative consequences, and MD4, blaming/dehumanizing the victim were also used by students. MD2, minimizing agency was the only process of MD not significantly associated with perceptions. Study results confirmed that cyberbullying is a real issue among high school perpetrator, victim, and observer. Because this s tudy was the first of its kind, f uture studies are needed to address cyberbullying and the theory of MD By engaging in more research on the theory of moral disengagement a dvances in this area of cyberbullying research can inform existing intervention an d prevention efforts, a nd influence future school initiatives to combat cyber victimization.

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14 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION conflict and harassment are typical with peer relationships bullying presents a serious danger to adolescent well being, social functioning, and overall healthy youth development (Nansel et al., 2001). Numerous negative health and academic concerns result from bullying involvement (Dake, Price & Telljohann, 2003) and this form of peer aggression is considered a common precursor for more serious violent behaviors, such as weapon carrying, frequent fighting, and injuries resulting from fighting (Nansel, Overpeck, Haynie, Ruan, & Scheidt, 2003; Kim, Leven thal, Koh, Hubbard, & Boyce, 2006). Researchers describe bullying using several categories : physical, verbal, and relational (Smith & Slonje, 2010). T ypically, physical and verbal bullying occurs face to face and in a direct manner (i.e., hitting a peer; calling a peer a bad name) Relational bullying more often occurs in an indirect manner (i.e. spreading rumors about a peer). In recent years a new category of bullying has surfaced in which the peer aggression occurs through various forms of electronic media (S mith & Slonje, 2010) This form of peer aggression is called cyberbullying or electronic aggression and it is quickly becoming a serious concern among children and adolescents S ociety has experienced exponential growth in electronic and computer based communication since the turn of the 21 st century T his growth has led to development of new communication media and has chang ed the way individuals and groups socially interact (Mishna, Cook, Gadalla, Daciuk, & Solomon, 2010). Youth, in particular, have become technologically savvy and often lead the way in adapting new technologies to everyday use (Agatson, Kowalski & Limber, 2007). Unfortunately, th is expansion of electronic and computer

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15 based communication has also led to youth cyberbullyin g involvem ent across the United States (Englander & Muldowney, 2007). Problem Cyberbullying a form of peer victimization committed by one individual or a group of individuals through electronic or digital media includes the intention t o communicate aggressive m essages for the purpose of inflict ing harm on others ( Tokunaga 2010 ) While types of cyberbullying are numerous most actions involve computers and cellular phones (Patchin & Hinduja, 2006). A 2007 Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center (MARC ) survey of undergraduate students found that 24% of survey respondents reported cyberbullying, and 40% identified themselves as victim s of cyberbullying (Englander & Muldowney, 2007). Man y negative health and academic concerns result from cyberbullying involvem ent, including poor academic performance, school dropout physical violence and psychological impairment ( Kowalski, Limber, & Agatston, 2012; Tokunaga 2010; Willard, 2006). While some consequences can be subtle in nature, extreme cases of cyberbullying h ave the potential to cause physical danger or life threatening situations Suicide the third leading cause of death for Americans ages 10 to 24 (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012) represents one such consequence of youth involvement i n cyber bullying The fact that youth population (Kiri akidis & Kavoura, 2010, p. 86) underscor es the importance of increased research on this form of youth violence. Rationale Media awareness of cyberbullying and the bulk of cyberbullying research is less than ten years old (Smith & Slonje, 2010). Because this phenomenon is so new,

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16 relatively little is known about some aspects of cyberbullying. Dooley, Pyzalski, & Cross (2009) identified three areas of cyberbull ying literature need ing further research : (1) the motivations and goals of those who cyberbully, (2) the long term impact of being cyberbullied, and (3) the extent of differences between cyberbullying and traditional bullying (p. 187). A few studies explo red the motivations of those who engage in In fact, s everal studies demonstrated a strong link between adolescent bullying behaviors and elevated moral disengagement scores ( Hymel, Rocke Henderson, & Bonanno, 2005; Obermann, 2011; Pornari & Wood, 2010; Salmivalli & Voeten, 2004 ) indicating that moral disengagement is an important aspect to consider when explaining the reasoning behind peer aggression (Perren & Gutzwiller Helfenfinge r, 2012). Unfortunately, research examining the relationship between youth cyberbullying and the processes of moral disengagement i s scarce In fact, only two studies explored this re lationship ; one study reported a relationship between moral disengageme nt and cyberbullying, while the other did not These limited findings support the need for additional research to explore the relationship of youth cyberbullying engagement and the theory of moral disengagement. My study aimed to explore the relationsh ip between youth cyberbullying behaviors and the theory of moral disengagement. More specifically, my study aim ed to find out whether college freshman, looking back at cyberbullying incidents that occurred during their final semester of high school, justi fied the aggressive behavior(s) through the process es of moral disengagement. Because my study is the first of its kind, results may indicate how adolescents rationalize engagement in beha viors that cause harm to

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17 others Understanding how youth interpret cyberbullying based on specific types of cyberbullying behaviors and victim characteristics, as well as how youth score with reference to the processes of moral disengagement can provide insight about how and/or why youth might change the ir perception reg arding a behavior normally considered immoral, to a perception that the behavior is acceptable Additionally, such valuable insight will provide information regarding how to reduce and eliminate cyberbullying behaviors. My study ations for surveillance, interventions, social norm campaigns, and possibly policy development at the local or school level. For this reason, the primary audience for my study includes parents, teachers, school administrators, researchers, scholars, and c ommunity members devoted to the fight against cyber victimization. Research Questions 1. Are higher levels of acceptability for cyberbullying behaviors related to higher levels of moral disengagement? 2. Are lower levels of seriousness for cyberbullying behavior s related to higher levels of moral disengagement? 3. Are higher levels of acceptability for cyberbullying based on victim characteristics related to higher levels of moral disengagement? 4. Are lower levels of seriousness for cyberbullying based on victim chara cteristics related to higher levels of moral disengagement? 5. Are higher levels of justification for cyberbullying among students who report cyberbullying others related to higher levels of moral disengagement? Delimitations 1. My study was conducted at a large University in the Southeastern quadrant of the United States. 2. Participants included college freshman 18 to 20 years old who volunteered for the study

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18 3. Participants included college freshman who graduated from high school within the 6 months preceding the survey. 4. Data were collected through online survey software. 5. Study variables were measured using the validated and pilot tested survey: Student Experiences with Electronic Media and Perceptions of Cyberbullying Behaviors 6. Dat a were self reported by partici pants. 7. Demographic data w ere self reported by participants. 8. The study use d a correlational research design to describe the statistical association among multiple variables. Limitations 1. The large University purposively selected for my study may not have re presented all freshman students in the Southeastern United States, nor the United States. 2. The use of a college freshman population may affect the diversity of the sample (e.g. race, socio economic status). Additionally, this population eliminates the inc lusion of former high school students not currently enrolled in college. 3. The college freshman population, although less than 6 months outside of h igh s chool, may experience difficulty remembering cyberbullying experiences prior to college. 4. The use of onlin e survey software m ay have recruited a sample that over or underrepresented critical participant characteristics (Perren & Gutzwiller Helfenfinger, 2012). 5. Study variables were measured using a newly developed instrument, designed specifically for my study While validity was tested and accounted for, reliability is unknown. 6. Participant responses may not have been candid or may have been based on inaccurate perceptions. 7. Demographic questions may not have captured all pertinent information about participant 8. The correlational research design can only report the relationship among the variables, and results from my study can only be used as a means for describing the relationship between the cyberbullyi ng and moral disengagement variables

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19 Assumptions 1. The Sout heastern University selected for my study was considered adequately representative of all freshman students enrolled at highly selective higher education institutions in the United States. 2. Participa nts who volunteered for the study were considered adequately representative of all freshman students in the United States who experienced cyberbullying, in some capacity, during their final semester of high school. Additionally, c ollege freshman participa nts were considered representative of the entire United States, despite the eliminat ion of former high school students who we re not enrolled in college at the time of the survey 3. The college freshman population, less than 6 months outside of h igh s chool, w ould not experience difficulty remembering cyberbullying experiences prior to college. 4. The use of online survey software recruited a sample of all newly admitted freshman, and did not exclude any members of the target population. 5. The instrument developed f or my study adequately addressed the constructs associated with the purpose of my study 6. Participants responded with adequate levels of honesty and perception for the purpose of my study 7. Demographic questions captured all pertinent information about parti cipants, and 8. T he correlational research design described the statistical association among multiple variables. If there was a positive relationship between variables, justification for further research to explo re the relationship was confirmed and supported. Definition of Terms 1. Bullying: A person is bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons, and he or she has difficulty defending 2. Cyberbullying: An act in which someone repeatedly harasses, mistreats, picks on, or makes fun of another person using various forms of electronic media. Note: t he behavior or action is considered to occur repeated ly when it occurs more than once or when it is viewed or forwarded more than once or by more than one person.

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20 3. Electronic m edia: A ny device or equipment ( such as cell phones, computers, and tablets ) that provide access to various communication tools (i.e., social media sites, text messages, online chat, email, and websites). 4. Pick ing on: The act of harassing, mistreating, or making fun of another person. 5. Theory of Moral Disengagement: This theory developed by Bandura (1999) describes the process by which indi viduals engage in the cognitive restructuring of harmful, immoral behavior into a harmless or worthy behavior, minimizing the s agentive role, disregarding or distorting the negative impact of the harmful behavior, or blaming/dehumanizing those who are victimized. 6. Cognitive r estructuring : T he process of morally justifying a harmful behavior by cognitively changing the behavior into one that is personally and socially acceptable; making the harmful behavior more respectable by altering the name or description of the harmful act using less derogatory language; or, by exploiting the victim, or the group in which they belong, thereby changing the harmful act into one with a high ethical purpose (Bandura, 1999). 7. Minimizing o a gentive r ole : C ognitiv e strategies that displace responsibility Rocke Henderson & Bonanno, 2005). 8. Disregarding/ distorting the negative impact of harmful behavior : T he process of distancing oneself from the harmful a ct al together, or focusing on the positive outcomes, as opposed to the negative outcomes associated with this behavior (Hymel, Rocke Henderson & Bonanno, 2005). 9. Blaming and dehumanizing the victim : A cognitive strategy in which the perpe trator cognitively creates a distorted view of the person he/she is mistreating, thereby making it easier to cause harm to th e individual (Bandura, 1999). Summary Cyberbullying one form of peer victimization negatively affects youth and disrupts healthy psychosocial development. Many negative health and academic concerns result from cyberbullying involvement, including poor academic performance, school dropout, physical violence psychological impairment and suicide ( Hinduja & Patchin, 2010 ; Kowalski, L imber, & Agatston, 2012; Tokunaga, 2010; Willard, 2006). Preventing cyberbullying and helping youth overcome the harmful psychosocial effects associated with cyberbullying represent important goals for parents, teachers, counselors, and

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21 researchers. E xpl oring the reasons why youth engage in cyberbullying behaviors using the Theory of Moral Disengagement can provide critical information for cyberbullying prevention Chapter 2 summarizes the professional literature describing bullying and cyberbullying ass ociated with adolescents (primarily in the U.S.), and introduces the Theory of Moral Disengagement and the role it could play in cyberbullying prevention. A brief description of the research study concludes C hapter 2. Chapter 3 detail s the methodology of the research study. My study utilized a correlational research design to describe the statistical association between multiple variables perceptions of cyberbullying behaviors in relation to the theory of moral disengagement is not available. Thus, the Survey of Student Experiences with Electronic Media and Perceptions of Cyberbullying Behaviors step comprehensive strategy for developing c losed ended survey items Eac h step is discussed throughout C hapter 3 and results from the pilot survey will also be presented Chapter 4 focuses on the results from the final study. A description of the analysis tests run, as well as statistical findin gs will be discussed. Further discussion of the results will be presented in C hapter 5, as well as concluding thoughts about the research study. Additionally, study implications as related to the cyberbullying research field will be discussed. Final dis cussion of this chapter will focus on researcher suggested steps for future research on cyberbullying, including recommendations for cyberbullying prevention as it relates to schools, families and community members.

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22 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Youth Viole nce and Bullying in the United States On 2 December 2, 2010, Healthy People 2020 was launched with the vision of creating a society in which all people live long, healthy lives. This 10 year agenda was (HHS, Heal thy People 2020, 2011) and includes four overarching goals: (1) Attain high quality, longer lives free of preventable disease, disabili ty, injury, and premature death; (2) Achieve health equity, eliminate disparities, and improve the health of all groups ; (3) Create social and physical environments t hat promote good health for all; and, (4) Promote quality of life, healthy development, and healthy b e haviors across all life stages Three of these goals target injury and violence prevention a health issue t hat moves beyond the individuals directly involved and affects society as a whole Youth violence a major public health concern around the World is o ne of the leading health indicators of Health y People 2020 ; and o ne of the violence prevention objectives of particular concern among schools and communities i s the need to reduce bullying among adolescents Defined as a subset of aggressive behaviors and actions intended to cause harm or disco mfort to a peer (Olweus, 2010), bullying presents a serious danger to adolescent well being and social functioning, and a danger to overall healthy youth development (Nansel et al., 2001). Additionally, b ullying was cited as a common precursor for more se rious violent behaviors, such as weapon carrying, frequent fighting, and injur ies resulting from fighting (Nansel, Overpeck, Haynie, Ruan, & Scheidt, 2003 ; Kim, Leventhal, Hubbard, & Boyce, 2006 ). In a systematic review and meta analysis of studies measur ing possible

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23 links between school bullying and c riminal offending later in life, Ttofi, Farrington, Losel, and Loeber (2011) found that the probability of offending ( up to 11 years later ) was much higher for school bullies than for non involved students (p 21). Additionally, Ttofy et al. concluded that s chool bullying is a unique childhood risk factor for later offending, and bullying others increases the probability of adverse outcomes later in life for the bully (p. 21) According to Olweus (199 3 ), co person is bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons, and he or she has difficul ty defending himself or herself (p. 9 ). Kim, Leve nthal, Hubbard, and Boyce ( 2006 p. 1035 ) described bullying a characterized as (1) aggressive behavior that involve s unwanted, negative actions; (2) a pattern of behavior repeated over time; and (3) an imbalance of power o r strength Many researchers believe all three characteristics must be p resent for an inc ident to be considered bullying although some critics feel differently The first characteristic of bullying behavior includes intentional, aggressive behaviors th at are unwanted ; negative actions that impact the victim These n egative actions include attempt ed and actual injury or discomfort directed at a specific person, or target Th ese actions include aggression committed in the following forms: verba l (teasin g name calling); physical (hitting, kicking, and shoving); or psychological/social (deliberately and maliciously excluding people spreading rumors ). Bullying behaviors can be direct or indirect. D irect bullying would include engag ing in verbal aggressi on toward the targeted person In direct bullying would include spreading rumors about the

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24 targeted person The difference is that direct bullying is carried out directly toward the victim and indirect bullying is directed at the victim through a third p arty (Dooley, Pyzalski, & Cross, 2009). Repetition is another c haracteristic of bullying According to Olweus ( 1993 ), b ullying is not a one time incident; rather, i t include s repeated behaviors over time. While some argue that bullying can happen one time Olweus posited that a one time incident should be con s idered peer aggression. Additionally, Olweus (1993) identified two cr itical factors that separate bullying from peer aggression : bullying comprises repeated acts of intentional harm; and the rela tionship between a bully and victim consists of an imbalance of power where the bully holds the power. I f an altercation between peers happens once, and there has not been a history of aggression between the two persons or groups, the act is categorized as peer aggression ; not bullying. Conversely, if two persons or groups of people are in an altercation and one side has previously picked on (whether physically, verbally, or psychologically) the other side, this incident would likely be considered bully ing. repetition as a characteristic of bullying, it is important to recognize that even when serious incidents occur only one time, they must receive immediate attention and intervention to prevent future incidents from occur ring (Olweus, 2010). As stated previously, when t wo persons or groups of people engage in an altercation and one side has previously picked on (whether physically, verbally, or psychologically) the other side, this incident would likely be considered bul lying. However, a power imbalance is required for the incident to officially be categorized as bullying. According to Olweus (2010), bullying only occurs when one you th ( bully )

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25 exerts more power over the weaker youth (victim). Bullying centers around th is power imbalance ; and the bully is perceived as more powerful and exerts power over the powerless victim. N ote that the power imbalance may be based on perception, rather than reality. Thus, the bully is perceived by him/herself, or others, as having m ore power. Often power equates to body size and level of peer influence; however, it can also include access to embarrassing information and/or popularity level ( "What is Bullying," 2013) The power, regardless of its form, is used by the bully to contr ol or harm others. This characteristic can be used to identify risk factors for individuals who might engage in bullying behaviors and individuals who ma y fall victim to bullying acts, and is critically important f or prevention efforts The national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS ) administered every two years by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), monitors priority health risk behaviors that contribute to leading causes of death, disability, and social problems among youth and young ad ults in the United States. During the 2009 YRBS reporting period, 19% of U.S. adolescents in G rades 9 through 12 reported being bullied on school property during the twelve months before taking the survey ( Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 20 1 1 ) In 2011, this number increase d to 20.1% ( CDC, 20 1 1 ) Although small in percentage, this increase i n the prevalence of bullying among high school aged youth further supports the need for development and implementation of evidence based prevention c urricula and programs The School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey (Robers Zhang, Truman, & Snyder, 2011 ) collects data on students ages 12 to 18 years old and their repo rts of being bullied at school. In 200 9 roughly 28% of students ages

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26 12 to 18 years old reported being bullied at school during the school year Of those students who reported being bullied at school, 19 % reported being subjected to forms of verbal bullying; 29 % reported being a victim of various types of psychological or social bullying; and 12 % reported acts of physical bullying committed against them Overall, the rates of bullying at school were relatively evenly split between female and male students (29% of female students reported being bullied at school; 27% of male students reported being bullied at school). W hen comparing the types of bullying acts reported by students in most cases, males and females were evenly divided. However, females were more likely to report being subj ected to rumors, and being excluded from activities on purpose. M ales were more likely to report acts of physical bullying being committed against them, and being coerced to engage in activities that they di d not want to participate in. De spite the few s light differences between male and female students affecting both male and female students in relatively equal numbers. Thus, bullying prevention curricula and programs must target both ma les and females, a nd must provide resources that address all types of bullying. Cyberbullying At the turn of the 21 st century a new type of bullying emerged as a threat to the health, well being and safety of youth cyberbullying. This form of aggression involves the use of electronic communication media to bully others (Li, 2007). E lectronic co mmunication media include cell phones, video cameras, e mails, and web pages and they are used to post or send hurtful, harassing or embarrassing messages to a no t her pers on (Ybarra & Mitchell, 2004). With the constant and rapid development of new technology, the number of youth with access to computers, cell phones, and the

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27 numerous software and applications associated with these electronic devices has increased s ignificantly (Li, 2007). According to the Pew Research Center, 95% of all youth between 12 and 17 years old are now online, and 80% of online youth are users of social media sites (Lenhart et al., 2011). However, youth knowledge of and confidence with us ing various technologies, as well as the access they have to technology (many times without adult supervision) can lead to dangerous, high risk behaviors (Agatson et al., 2007). Although cyberbullying can occur among all types of electronic media, comput ers and cell phones represent the two primary forms of technology used by youth to cyberbully their peers (Patchin & Hinduja, 2006). The most common behaviors resulting from misuse of the computer and cell phone ( Smith et al., 2008; Tettegah, Betout, & Ta ylor, 2006) include sending cruel and threatening messages creating websites that ridicule others posting pictures or videos of peers that cause shame or embarrassment threatening messages to others and forwarding sensitive information about a peer to others. Additionally, the seven most frequently cited categories of cyberbullying (Smith, Mahdavi, Carvalho, & Tippet, 2006) include text message bullying picture or video clip bullying (via mobile p hone cameras) phone call bullying email bullying chat room bullying bullying through instant messaging and bullying via websites, such as Facebook or MySpace. According to Englander and Muldowney ( 2007 ), c yberbullying is a direct result of the inc reased online social lif e in which youth now engage and this phenomenon has become a significant threat among youth and a growing area of concern for all members of society. The frequency of y outh cyberbullying participation increases as new

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28 technology m edia emerge (Lenhart et al., 2011) ; t hu s, as technology options expand, prevalence rates for cyberbullying will increase ( Kiriakidis & Kavoura 2010). Although research er s have documented traditional forms of bullying as more common than cyberbullying (Wi lliams & Guerra, 2007), longitudinal data on cyberbullying suggest that cyberbullying is becoming increasingly common. In 2000, researchers reported that 6% of internet users between 10 and 17 years old claimed to have been the victim of online harassment (defined as threats or other offensive behavior, excluding sexual solicitation sent or posted on line) (Wolak, Mitchell, & Finkelhor, 2007). Just five years later this same population reported a 50% increase for targeted online harassment (Wolak, Mitchell, & Finkelhor, 2007). Additionally, in a 2007 M assachusetts Aggression Reduction Center (MARC ) survey 24% of undergraduate students who completed the survey reported cyberbullying, and 40% identified themselves as a victim of cyberbullying (Englander & Mu ander & Muldowney, 2007, p. 84) Definition The definition of cyberbullying varies greatly and is highly debated among researchers. Many cyber (1993) definition for traditional bullying a person is bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons, and he or she has difficul ty defending himself or herself (p. 9). In a meta synthesis by Tokunaga (2010), existing cyberbullying definitions from quantitative research dating back to 2000 were examined in an attempt to develop one standard, integrative definition. T okunaga (2010) examined nine definitions, many derived from definitions of

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29 traditional bullying, and found only one commonality. Each definition identified cyberbullying as an aggressive, hostile, or harmful act exhibited by the bully using an electronic dev ice. However, definitions differed i n the description of those involved in the victimization (i.e., groups or individuals) ; and differed in requirements for the behavior to be deliberate, willful, and repeated over time. Despite inconsistencies among cyberbullying definitions, Tokunaga (2010) constructed a definition for cyberbullying in an attempt to pave the way for development of valid cyb erbullying measures, and to provide an easier way to make cross study comparisons. Tokunaga (2010) proposed th behavior performed through electronic or digital media by individuals or groups that repeatedly communicates hostile or aggressive messages intended to inflict harm or di H e inclu ded two addendums: the identity of the cyberbully may or may not be known and cyberbullying most often occurs outside of school Repeated communication R epetition (more than once) is a primary characteristic of t raditional bullying However, with cyber bullying, repetition can mean something very different. Wh ile it is certainly possible a young person is cyberbullied multiple times by the same person, the act or behavior could be repeated without direct contribution of the cyberbully (Smith & Slonje, 2 010). For example, if someone is physically bullied, the victim has been physically harmed multiple times. However, if a young person receives a hurtful text message, th e act can be repeated the number of times it is read by the victim. Thus, although t he cyberbully may send the message one time, if the victi m reads it more than once, the cyberbullying has been repeated This is further compounded if a message,

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30 picture, and/or video is forwarded or published online for all to see. The number of views a nd /or number of hits received individually count as repeated offense s The ability of a message to be viewed multiple times and by a seemingly endless number of people creates an enormous impact on the victim And a single cyberbullying communication mes sage, which can be viewed multiple times and by numerous people can create more distress for the victim than if the person was physically assaulted several times. With bullying, the magnitude of the situation is often assessed by the number of repeated i ncidents; however, with cyberbullying, the use of repetition to determine the serious ness of an offense may be less reliable (Smith & Slonje, 2010). Intended harm or discomfort Another characteristic shared b y traditional bullying and cyberbullying is fo r the act to intentionally cause harm to the victim. In traditional bullying situations, intentional harm involves a willful act, committed by the perpetrator, in which physical, social or emotional harm is the intention. In cyberbullying situations the perpetrators similarly wish to inflict harm on their targeted victim. P erpetrators involved in traditional bullying cause [the victim] distress (Tokunaga, 2010, p. 278). Ho weve r, note that the intended harm or discomfort refers to the victim s perception of intended harm. Thus, whether a behavior intends to inflict harm is determined by the target of the alleged cyber victimization (Patchin & Hinduja, 2012). Definition Adopted for my Study this cyberbullying definition is logical and compelling. And, having the same definition used across studies i s critical for cross study comparisons. However, the definition proposed by Tokunaga was cr eated

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3 1 respond to survey questions, they m ight experience difficulty comprehending what is and is not c yberbullying behavior. F or the purposes of my research study, the fo llowing cyberbullying definition was adopted: cyberbullying is when someone repeatedly harasses, mistreats, picks on, or makes fun of another person using various forms of electronic media. This definition was developed with feedback from experts in the f ield t o provide a more user friendly definition for college freshman and to increase comprehension of the magnitude of cyberbullying behaviors. Additionally, several descriptors were used to better identify the range of cyberbullying behaviors (i.e., ha rasses, mistreats, picks on, or makes fun ), as opposed to summarizing cyberbullying hostile or aggressive messages intended to inflict harm or discomfort (Tokunaga, 2010) Additionally, a special notation was added to the definition to prov which was suggested during the cognitive interview stage of the survey development process The notation stated: the behavior or action is considered to occur repeatedly when it occurs more than once or when i t is viewed or forwarded more than once or by more than one person. Impact of Cyberbullying on Youth Health and academic concerns Cyber victimization has caused considerable concern across the nation as a result of youth reports of health and psychologi cal harm due to targeted cyberbullying (Tokunaga, 2010). According to America's Children: Key Indicators of Well Being (2009), "violence affects the quality of life of young people who experience, witness, or feel threatened by [violence]" (Federal Intera gency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, 2009, p.33). A dditionally, cyberbullied victims reported suffering from low

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32 self esteem and high levels of depression (Ybarra, Mitchell, Wolak, & Finkelhor, 2006), and one fourth claimed that their home life had suffered as a result of being cyberbullied (Patchin & Hinduja, 2006). In relation to academics, victims of cyberbullying reported sudden decreases in academic grades (Beran & Li, 2007), no longer feeling safe while at school (Varjas, Henrich, & Meyers, 20 09), and increased school absentee rates (Katzer, Fetchenhauer, & Belschak, 2009). Additionally, cyberbullied victims reported increased rates of school detention and suspension punishments, engagement in truant behaviors, and a greater likelihood for bei ng bullied on school property (Ybarra, Diene r West, & Leaf 2007). Cyberbullies also reported suffering from several psyc hological and social problems According to Ybarra and Mitchell (2007) and Hinduja and Patchin (2007) cyberbullies reported an incre ased participation in aggressive thoughts and behaviors, including refusing to follow rules, associatin g with delinquent peers, and substance abuse. Interestingly, cyberbullies also reported a greater likelihood for being the target of bullying, as compar ed to their non bullied peers (Ybarra & Mitchell, 2007). In addition, cyberbullies reported experiencing poorer relationships with, and limited monitoring from their parents/caregivers, a characteristic shared by cyber victims (Ybarra, Dienwe West, & Leaf 2007; Ybarra & Mitchell, 2004; Ybarra, Espelage, & Mitchell, 2007). This critical finding, shared among cyberbullies and victims is of the utmost importance in future cyberbullying research. Aggressive behavior s and violence Short term and long term e ngagement in aggression and/or violence is one important and dangerous effec t of cyberbullying. A study by Huesmann (2007) reported that exposure to electronic media violence increases the risk of young people and

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33 adults engaging in aggressive behaviors. This increase in aggressive behaviors was found for both short term and long term effects. According to Huesmann (2007), there is considerable overlap between cyberbullying and aggressive behaviors, especially those aggressive behaviors committed through the use of electronic media. Therefore, the same negative effects associated with exposure to electronic media violence, might also affect individuals exposed to cyberbullying. Huesmann (2007) made it clear in his report that most youth involved in aggressive behaviors do not develop into aggressive adults. However, i t is certainly possible for early exposure to acts of a ggression to lead to adult issues with aggression. Additionally, and perhaps most alarming is evidence that the best single predictor of violent behavior in older adolescents and throughout adulthood is aggressive behavior during childhood (Huesmann, 2007 (Huesmann, 2007, p. S7). These findings emphasize the need for longitudinal research on cyberbullying, aggression and violence throughout childhood and adulthood. And, in the short run, these findings provide a strong rationale for interventions designed to prevent cyberbullying during the school age years. Suicide Suicide, the secon d leading cause of death for peo ple ages 1 5 to 24 in the U.S. ( Hoyert & Xu, 2012 ) is a nother serious issue connected with cyberbullying. Prior research on traditional forms of bullying established str ong research based links among bullied youth ; youth who bully others ; and an increased risk for suicidal thoughts,

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34 attempts, and completed suicides (Hinduja & Patchin, 2010; van der Wal, de Wit, & Hirasing, 2003). Although consistent evidence support s the relationship between suicidal behaviors and bullying, it is unknown whether suicidal behaviors vary among the different roles. Rigby and Slee (1999) reported a stronger suicidal association for victims, as compared to perpetrators; however, Hawker and Boulton (2000) reported a stronger suicidal association for perpetrators, as compared to victims. Of interest to my study are findings support ing the increased risk of suicidal behaviors among youth involved in cyberbullying. Among a random sample of 2,000 middle school aged youth who experienced traditional bullying and/or cyberbullying, as either an offender or a victim, Hinduja & Patchin (2010) reported that victims of cyberbullying were almost twice as likely to have attempted suicide compared to youth who had not experienced cyberbullying Also, victimization was more strongly related to suicidal thoughts and behaviors than offending was Furthermore, cyberbullied youth were 1.9 times more likely, and traditional bullied youth were 1.7 times more likely, to have attempted suicide than were those who had not experienced either form of bullying (Hinduja & Patchin, 2010). While it is unknown whether cyberbullying involvement leads to a higher likelihood of youth engaging in suicidal behaviors, as compared to young people involved in traditional bullying, th e statistics presented by Hindu ja and Patchin (2010) as well as the psychological and physical problems that result from cyberbullying underscore the serious threats and potentially deadly result of this form of peer victimization. Prevalence of Cyberbullying Because research on this topic is relatively new, and because researchers have adopt ed different measures, it is difficult to report prevalence rates for cyberbullying.

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35 The limited comparability between current cyberbullying research reports is largely due to the varying definiti ons. Some researchers adopted a broad definition, while others adopted a more limited definition (Williams & Guerra, 2007). Additionally, the time period in which study participants are asked to report cyberbullying has varied greatly. The research to d ate has reported cyberbullying experiences among study participants during the last month, during the present school year, and within the past year. T he age of study participants has also varied greatly ( 6 th to 8th graders, 9 th to 1 2th graders, 10 to 1 5 year olds, and 10 to 17 year olds). Because of inconsistencies in definition s of cyberbullying and vast differences among methodologies used in research stud ies David Ferdon and Hertz (2009) said nce of electronic aggression is Ferdon & Hertz, 2009, p. 4). However, the ranges are quite broad. Research reported the percentage of young people subjected to cyber bullying to range from 9 to 35% ; and the percentage of young people who engage in cyberbullying others (i.e., the perpetrators ) ranges from 4 to 21% ( Williams & Guerra, 2007; Ybarra, West & Leaf, 2007; Kowalski & Limber, 2007). Across studies, researchers show between 7 to 14% of young people report ing being both a victim and a perpetrator of electronic aggression (Ybarra, West & Leaf, 2007; Kowalski & Limber, 2007). The national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) explored youth involvement in cyberbullyi ng (referred to as electronic bullying) for the first time in 2011. Among a nationally representative sample of youth in G rades 9 to 12 16% reported being bullied electronically including through e mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, Web sites, or

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36 text ing during the 12 months before the survey (YRBSS, 2011). Among females, this number increased to 22.1% (n= 6,980) having been electronically bullied in the 12 months before the survey, whereas 10.8% of males (n= 6,846) reported having been electronically bullied during the same time frame (YRBSS, 2011). Data are significant as they report electronic bullying as more common among female high school students at more than double the rate of male high school students. Because the 20 11 YRBS was the first tim e electronic bullying was included in the survey, comparison data will not be available to document this trend until 2013 results are released. Nevertheless, this finding is critical for researchers and educators regarding prevention programming. The Sch ool Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey surveyed students ages 12 to 18 regarding their involvement with cyberbullying. In 200 9, roughly 6% of students ages 12 to 1 8 reported being cyberbullied during the school year (Robers Zhang Truman, & Snyder, 2011 ). Of those students who reported being cyber bullied during the school year 3% reported being subject to harassing text messages 2% reported that another student had posted hurtful information about them on the Internet and 2% r eported that they had been subject to a harassing instant messag e (Robers Zhang, Truman, & Snyder, 2011 ). Students also reported being sub jected to harassing e mails, online exclusion, and being harassed while gaming at a rate of 1% each (Robers Zhang, Truman, & Snyder, 2011 ). Overall, female s tudents reported being cyber bullied at higher percentages than male s tudents for each type of cyberbullying except harassment while gaming and being excluded online Interestingly, a greater number of female s t udents (38%) than male students (23%) reported notifying an adult after being cyberbullied. The data, although not statistically

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37 significant, are an important finding for researchers and should be further explored. Additionally, all students should be en couraged to report cyberbullying incidents to a trusted adult, but perhaps a greater emphasis should be placed on encouraging male students t o report cyberbullying incidents. When comparing the frequency of cyberbullying during the school year, Robers Zhang, Truman, and Snyder (2011) report ed that of the students aged 12 to 18 who reported being cyberbullied in 2009, 67% reported incidents occurring once or twice in the school year. However, 17% reported incidents occurring once or twice a month, and 1 0% reported having been cyberbullied once or twice a week. Six percent of students reported incidents of cyberbullying committed against them almost every day. While two thirds of the students reported incidents occurring once or twice in the school year it is important to note the danger associated with a single cyberbullying incident. As previously discussed, an isolated cyberbullying incident can have an enormous impact based on the number of people who view and/or share the information (text, pictur e, video, etc.). Thus, whether a cyberbullying incident occurs once during a school year or once a day, the effect these incidents have on the targeted student can be equally damaging. Cyberbullying and Traditional Bullying Like traditional bullying, cybe rbullying involves the intent to inflict harm as well as engaging in behaviors to cause physical or psychological distress to a peer or peers (Tokunaga, 2010). However, cyberbullying differs from traditional bullying b ecause of the public nature of the v ictimization (Kowalski, L imber, & Agatson, 2012). Because of the virtual environment of cyber victimiza tion, cyberbullying can exist in the school environment and also follow victims into their homes (Patchin & Hinduja, 2006).

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38 C yberbullying limits the ab ility of a young person to escape the victimization because the cyberbully can reach his/her target at any time or place (Patchin & Hinduja, 2006; Slonje & Smith, 2008 ; Bauman, 2010 ). And, although youth have the ability to block senders or choose to stop using the electronic media and/or social media in which the cyberbullying is occurring, the reality is that most youth want free access to these devices and social media outlets and consider limited access (or no access) to be a form of punishment (Bauma n, 2010). Thus, t he inability of youth to escape cyberbullying exponentially increases the effects of cyberbullying on a victim (Tokunaga, 2010). Another distinguishing characteristic of cyberbullying is the breadth of the potential audience (Slonje & S mith, 2008). Cyberbullies have access to multiple forms of electronic media to reach a in a short amount of time (Bauman, 20 10 p. 805) Additionally, because cyberbullying is a virtual experience lacking face to face inte raction, cyberbullies have the potential to remain invisible to their victim s (Slonje & Smith, 2008). The harmful effects associated with cyberbullying are further compounded by the anonymity offered by electronic media (Slonje & Smith, 2008; Tokunaga, 20 10). In fact, Englander and Muldowney (2007) described encounter, requires little planning, and, because of its potential anonymity it also reduces the likelihood that the perpetrator will get caught (p. 84). Additionally, in a research study by Patchin and Hinduja (2006), 37% of the surv eyed adolescents indicated they had said things to a peer through electronic media that they normally would not have said in person.

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39 According to Tokunaga (2010), youth who would normally not engage in traditional bullying behaviors elect to participate in cyberbullying because of the anonymity provided by electronic media. As previously discussed, power is a critical component of a b ullying incident, and for the bully, power is the confidence allowing him/her to exert force over the ta rget. Perhaps because of the possibilit y for anonymity, individuals of equal or lesser power than their target can choose to engage in cyberbullying. The 2010, p. 805) by provid ing a protective shield that (seemingly) from the target. In short, a young person whose physical size or popularity st atus might normally inhibit his/her participation in traditional bullying is not similarly restricted from engaging in cyberbullying (Bauman, 2010). Clearly, the primary differences between traditional bullying and cyberbullying are in the electronic medi a through which the victimization occurs (Tokunaga, 2010). Additionally, the virtual and electronic nature of this type of victimization dramatically changes the face of bullying. The unique characteristics of cyberbullying magnify the potential for harm and make this form of youth aggression more severe than traditional bullying (Campbell, 2005; Bauman, 20 10 ). Understanding the cyberbullying process es and the role of those who observe the victimization silently (bystander s ) should be a primary focus f or future research. An exploration o f whether youth rely on the processes of moral disengagement to engage in immoral behaviors will provide educators and researchers with critical information related to cyberbullying prevention. Such information would a id the development of interventions designed to specifically target cyberbully behaviors, and would help break down the processes of moral

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40 disengagement in which youth engage. Investigating the relationship among cyberbully behaviors, the processes of mor al disengagement and decision making related to cyberbul lying can help researchers, schools, students, parents, and community members effectively combat this dangerous and potentially deadly form of youth violence. Theory of Moral Disengagement The theo ry of moral disengagement was conceptualized by Albert Bandura in cognitive theory moral self sanctions from inhumane conduct [was] a growing human problem at both individual and collective levels (p. 193) In social cognitive theory, moral reasoning is connected to actions through self regulated mechanisms stemming from the moral standards and self sanct ions by which moral agency is applied (Bandura, 1986). T he self regulated mechanisms provide motivation and cognitive regulat ion of moral con duct. dictates and social and in the co urse of socialization, moral standards are adopted to guide moral conduct (Bandura, 1999, p. 193). Thus, in the self regulatory process, young people monitor their conduct, evaluate it based on their personal moral standards, and regulate their actions by the consequences they apply to themselves. Young people cognitively choose to engage in things that align with their personal moral standards, and which bring them satisfaction while building their self worth (Bandura, 1999). Likewise, they avoid behavi ng in ways that are in conflict with their personal moral standards; as such behaviors would elicit feelings of personal disappointment and guilt.

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41 When young pe ople encounter situations that challenge their personal moral standards, they must decide how to exercise personal moral agency Acco rding to Bandura (1999), young pe ople can choose to refrain from engag ing in behaviors that violate thei r personal moral standards (inhibitive moral agency); or, young pe ople can decide to avoid engagement in negativ e behaviors while also choosing to engage in positive behaviors (proactive moral agency) Choosing to exercise moral agency in an inhibitive and proactive manner represent s one example o f how young people can choose to behave humanely. However, tandards do not operate invariantly as internal regulators of conduct, [and these] self regulatory mechanisms do not come into Many external variables exist that can cause youth to cognitively choos e to disengage (or turn off) their personal moral standards, and the reasoning behind such disengagement varies. Moral disengagement is the sociocognitive process through which an ordinary person can commit a harmful act against someone, when the act i s normally considered by that person to be immoral or unethical. Among youth who bully others (and those who participate as a bystander), the ability to engage in harmful acts of victimization lies in the ability of the bully to selectively activate and d isengage personal moral controls. Normally, internal moral controls elicit feelings of guilt or shame during the self regulatory process However, in the Handbook of Moral Behavior and Deve lopment (1991), Bandura described four points in the self regulatory process at which internal moral control can be turned off, leading to harmful or damaging behaviors. The four self regulatory processes of moral disengagement include (a) cognitive restr ucturing (b) minimiz ing

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42 (c) disregarding/ d istortin g the ne gative impact of harmful behavior and (d) blaming and dehumanizing the victim Fi gure 2 1 shows the four processes of moral disengagement. Cognitive Restructuring The most common method for the cognitive restructuring of immoral conduct is moral justification. Moral justification is the process by which an individual justifies his or her harmful behaviors toward others. Most often, the individual views this otherwise terri ble and wrongful action as an act of upholding moral purpose under the specific circumstances. During this process, an individual justifies harmful actions with a rationale that makes the actions personally and socially acceptable. War is a perfect exampl e of the process of moral justification. During war, opposing forces both view themselves as moral agents, and view their quest to kill the enemy as a heroic action. Killing the enemy is considered a moral act because of the justification process associa ted with the military actions. Euphemistic labeling is another example of a tactic used by people in the cognitive restructuring of immoral c onduct Euphemistic labeling relies on the many ways language can shape patterns of thought about certain actions. More specifically, euphemistic la beling works to make a harmful behavior respectable and to reduce personal responsibility for the behavior This is accomplished by altering the name and /or description of the harmful act using less derogatory la nguage. According to Bandura (1999) an otherwise harmful, immoral act can cognitively change in and s a cognitive shift in the perception of what is morally and ethically acceptable. By changing the word(s)

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43 used to describe an action, one can cognitively alter the perception of that specific behavior or action. Advantageous comparison is another strateg y used to make immoral actions look justified. According to Bandura (1999), the way behavior is viewed depends on what it orism is a good example of advantageous comparison. Terrorist s consider themselves martyrs, and consider t heir behaviors righteous. While terrorists and their targets both engage in negative actions against one another, terrorists only view the injustice s inflicted on their group as immoral and unethical. Advantageous comparison, along with moral justification and euphemistic labeling represent the most powerful set of psychological mechanisms for disengaging moral control (Bandura, 1999) By c ognitive ly restructuring harmful acts with a high ethical purpose censure is eliminated and self approval i s enacted This process is problematic as interventions must target the negative ab out what is considered ethical, despite negative thoughts or beliefs about a person and/or their background. Minimizing Agen cy for harmful acts by minimizing or obscuring o Rocke Henderson & Bonanno, 2005). According to Bandura ( 1999 ) moral control is most effective when people ack nowledge the harm cause d by their actions. Thus, w hen youth minimize the ir agen tive role in a harmful act, they essentially eliminate personal responsibility. Typically, this process occurs when youth view their actions as an order from a higher authority. Thus, because they do not view themselves as responsible for

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44 their actions, self condemnation is not act ivated (Bandura, 1991). Prison execution is one example of displacement of responsibility. The prison guard responsible for adminis tering the lethal agent that the action with murder The guard is sim ply carr ying out orders from the U.S. legal system reduc ed or even eliminated by diffusing/displacing the responsibility associated with the harmful behavior. D iffusion of responsibi lity can be further perpetuated when working in a group or on a team. When everyone has contributed to a harmful behavior or action, no one feels personally responsible and responsibility is diffused onto someone else in the group. Thus, people may feel more inclined to act cruelly under group responsibility as their personal accountability is decreased. Unfortunate ly, the more removed people are from the consequences of their actions, the easier it is for them to cause harm to another individual (Bandu ra, 199 9 ). Among youth, diffusion of responsibility can be particularly concerning in the fight against bullying during adolescence Throughout the school age years, youth change physically and psychologically with age Relationships with family member s and friends also change. During the early elementary years youth have a higher concern for their relationships with parents and other family members (Telljohann Symons, Pateman, & Seabert, 2012). However, as children move into adolescence, they show greater concern for friend relationships than family relationships. Consequently, peer pressure can become a major issue for some adolescents as they struggle with developing personal codes of morals and ethics (Telljohann et al., 2012). If youth are str uggling

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45 with developing their personal code of ethics, and if they are easily persuaded by members of their p eer group, then the diffusion of responsibility process is an important concern for researchers. Additionally, this process of moral disengagement has the potential for explaining the cognitive processes associated with peers who bully D isregarding/ D istorting N egative Consequences The process of disregarding or misrepresenting the harmful consequences associated with a behavior committed against a nother individual weakens the This process of moral disengagement either works to distance the perpetrator from the harmful act altogether, or cognitively allows the person to focus on the positive as opposed to negative outcomes associated with this behavior (Hymel, Rocke Henderson & Bonanno, 2005). Bandura (1999) explained it well : re is little reason for self to another individual when the effects cannot be seen. Cyberbullying creates the perfect opportunity for the process of moral disengagement A cyberbully can send or harmful effects of the victim Blaming / Dehumanizin g the Victim The final moral disengagement process involves dehumanization, or blaming the victim. This process involves the perpetrators view a distorted view of the person they are mistreating (Bandura, 1999). It is difficult for individual s to harm an other human being without suffering personal distress and self condemnation (Bandura,

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46 1999), unless they engage in the process of mentally removing the human qualities of the victim (Bandura, 1991). This process of dehumanization also removes the mon victim and perpetrator (Bandura, 1999, p. 200). Thus, the victim is now viewed as less than human, making it easier to cause harm to this in dividual. Slavery during the 18 th and 19 th centuries in the United States is a prime example o f dehumanization. Slaves were d ehumanized, and considered less than human. As a result, it was acceptable for white persons to commit a number of abusive and deadly actions against blacks. As previously discussed, adolescence is a time when young peop le place greater value on their friendships, as opposed to family relationship s ( Telljohann et al., 2012). Additionally, the function and importance of the peer group change s dramatically during adolescence. Adolescents typically spend an increased amoun t of time with friends during this developmental period as they turn to their peers for social support and to discuss problems, feelings, and fears ( Espelage, Holt, & Henkel 200 3 ). However, this relian ce on peers for social support can be coupled with i ncreasing pressures to attain social status (Corsaro & Eder, 1990; Eder, 1985) and has been connected with increased bullying ( Espelage, Holt, & Henkel, 2003 ) After all, it is during adolescence that peer groups are formed; making issues surrounding pee r acceptance and popularity both important and noticeable ( Espelage, Holt, & Henkel, 2003 ). More research is needed on the connection between p eer social status and bullying A n exploration of whether adolescents use the process of dehumanization to justi fy bullying will also add to the literature concerning bullying prevention efforts.

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47 Moral Disengagement and Cyberb ullying Researchers have argued that bullies have deficits regarding their morality (Hymel, Schonert Reichl, Bonanno, Vaillancourt, & Henders on, 2010). As such, t he theory of moral disengagement has the potential to explain the process es by which an individual morally disengages from what is normally considered harmful behavior, in order to intentionally cause harm to another person. As previ ously stated, typically, internal moral controls elicit feelings of guilt or shame during the self regulatory process individual undergoes one of the four processes of mor al disengagement, his or her internal moral control s can be shut off. And, w off, the ability to engage in harmful behaviors without personal guilt is permitted amon g moral disengagement, antisocial behavior, and aggression in children and adolescents ( Bandura Ba rbaranelli, Vittorio C aprara, & Pastorelli 1996; Yadava Sharma & Gandhi 2001 ). Therefore, it is essential to explore the roles of the four self regulato ry processes of moral disengagement ( cognitive restructuring , disregarding/distorting the negative impact of harmful behavior and blaming and dehumanizing the victim ) within the cyberbullying phenomenon. Moral Disengageme nt and B ullying A few studies have examin ed the relationship between youth traditional bullying and the processes of moral disengagement. Research ers who conducted studies in Italy reported bullies hav e higher moral disengagement scores than their respect ive peers, and also reported that th es e youth were more likely to use the moral justification and dehumanization processes to justify their behaviors ( Bacchini Amodeo, Ciardi,

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48 Valerio, & Vitelli 1998 ) A cross sectional study exploring t raditional bullyi ng among upper elementary and middle school students se earlier research ( Menesini et al., 200 3 ) Students in study reported higher m oral disengagement scores for minimizing, ignoring and mis construing the consequences associated with the negative actions. The four processes of moral disengagement were also examined by Hymel Rocke Henderson, and Bonanno ( 2005 ) using C anadian students in G rades 8 1 0. Again, bullies reported higher levels of moral disengagement, and victims reported the lowest. However, in Hymel Rocke 2005 ) study the results identified cognitive restructuring and the attribution of blame as the moral disengagement processes most strongly associated with bullying. Gini (2006) conducted a similar study among Italian elementary students and found that bullies had higher moral disengagement scores than did victim s and bystander s However, Gini (2006) brought to light an important finding and critical c onsideration for future research: exploring moral disengagement scores for all participant roles. Gini (2006) referred to previous research highlighting bullying as a group phenomenon, as 85% of bullying incidents involve peers (Craig, Pepler, & Atlas, 20 00). The role of bystanders in the reinforcement of bullying is important to consider in future research, including To date, little research has examin ed the relationship between youth cyberbullying and the processes of moral disengagement. In fact, only two published studies pertain to cyberbullying and its relationship to the theory of moral disengagement N either study was conducted in the United States, and neither focused exclusiv ely on high

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49 school aged youth. Nevertheless, the se studies reviewed below, represent an important foundation for future research examin ing the role of moral di sengagement in cyberbullying among American high school students. Moral Disengagement and Compa rable Cyberb ullying Study 1 Pornari and Wood (2010) examined the relationship between moral disengagement in traditional and cyber aggression among school children in the United Kingdom. The ir primary research aim was to identify shared and unique cogniti ve factors of the two types of peer aggression. A total of 339 middle school students ( G rades 7 9) were surveyed using two questionnaires. D emographic s reported included reported gender, year of birth, school year, and ethnicity (Pornari & Wood, 2010). The Peer Aggression/Victimization Questionnaire consisted of 26 questions to measure traditional aggression/victimization, as well as cyber aggression/vi ctimization among the sample. I tems measuring traditional aggression/victimization wer e adapted I tems measuring cyber aggression/victimization were constructed for their study Students were asked to report how often they were aggressor or victim of various behaviors (related to tradi tional and cyber aggression) during the past 6 months. Response options were organized using a 5 point Likert Scale (Never to Very Often), and students were also asked to identify how often the behavior occurred ( 1 to 3, 4 to 8, 9 to 12, or 12+ times ) dur ing the 6 month reporting period (Pornari & Wood, 2010). Additionally, a 40 item questionnaire assessing moral disengagement (32 items), hostile attribution bias (4 items), and outcom e experiences (4 items) was administered (Pornari & Wood, 2010). This qu estionnaire comprised all the items of the Mechanisms

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50 of Moral Disengagement Scale by Bandura et al. (1996) which includes scenario type questions for each of the 4 categories of moral disengagement Eight additional items were added to the questionnaire which explored hostile attribution bias and outcome experiences These items were based on the How I Think Scale by Barriga and Gibbs (1996). The questionnaires were distributed to the students in a classroom. The researcher was present to ensure stud ents worked ind ividually; approximate completion time was between 30 and 40 minutes (Pornari & Wood, 2010). After completing the questionnaires, students were debrief ed on the purpose of the study and expected outcomes R esearchers reiterated the anonymi ty and responses as well as their right as participant s to withdraw from the study. Researchers also provided a written debrief for participants to take home, including a support line phone number for students who experienc ed emotional distress after the study (Pornari & Wood, 2010). As predicted, moral disengagement related positively with traditional aggression thus students who engage d in more frequent or severe peer aggression were characterized by more aggressive beh avior. These students also reported more justifications for making a harmful act seem less harmful (Pornari & Wood, 2010). we re expected by the researchers as they align ed with results from earlier studie s showing high levels of moral disengagement in school bullies ( Bandura et al., 1996; Barriga & Gibbs, 1996; Gini, 2006; Hymel Rocke Henderson, & Bonanno 2005 ; Menesini et al. 2003; Yadava Sharma, & Gandhi, 2001).

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51 Results also indicated a positive correlation between moral disengagement and c yber aggression However, the positive correlation was smaller as compared with traditional aggression. The authors offered several possible reasons for these fin dings. First, they thought students might not consider c yber aggression to be as serious as traditional aggression. prevented negative feelings ( such as guilt, shame and self condemnation ) thereby reduc ing the chance of empathizing with the victim (Pornari & Wood, 2010). Thus, c yber aggression might not demand the same level Additionally, because students as sociate the use of technology w ith entertainment, the authors said perhaps the students view ed cyber aggression as another form of entertainment, without realizing its severity. This hypothesis was supported in a study by Raskauskas and Stoltz ( 2007 ) wher e 36% of the 16 Internet bullies interviewed reported engaging in internet bullying for fun. One notable finding from study revolved around age differences between those involved in incidences of traditional and cyber aggression Among the surveyed students, 55% reported having been c yber victimized at least once in the 6 months preceding the survey (Pornari & Wood, 2010). Additionally, 31% reported having been a c yber aggress or at least once. Interestingly, these rates we re higher tha n any previously reported in the research in the United Kingdom (Smith et al., 200 6 ); however, not directly compar e because of the varying age range s of sample s in earlier research. Regardless Pornari and Wood posited that b ecause physical aggression declines as children age, cyber aggression may serve as an alternative for young peopl e Furthermore, th e higher prevalence rates documented in

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52 their study warned that cyber aggression is a frequent occurrence among youth and will continue to be a threat to this population as technology advances (Pornari & Wood, 2010). This finding suppor ts the need for future research examining cyberbullying and moral disengagement among high school students, a population with greater access to various forms of technology and social media. Pornari and Wood highlighted several limitations to their study design, including the use of a relatively homogenous sample group (primarily one ethnic group and all students from the same school). The y suggested that f uture research should attempt to replicate th eir study with a larger, more heterogeneous sample. T h e y also cited their use of just three different aspects of c yber aggression and victimization as problematic. The narrow exploration of c yber aggression and victimization aligned with t he aim ; but student involvement with cyberbullying was limited to only three types of cyber aggression (Pornari & Wood, 2010). Regardless the association found between moral disengagement and c yber aggression and victimization in their study provided a strong rationale for more exploration of different cyber aggres sion in future research (Pornari & Wood, 2010). Additionally, the focus of their study was peer aggression and a distinction was not made between direct and indirect forms of aggression nor among different participant roles (Pornari & Wood, 2010). F utur e research examin ing participant roles (i.e., insight into the differential mechanisms in different modes and roles in peer directed aggression Pornari & Wood, 2010, p. 91). Clearly, the au thors highlighted an area of cyberbullying research in need of further exploration.

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53 Moral Disengagement and Comparable Cyberb ullying Study 2 More recently, Perren and Gutzwiller Helfenfinger (2012) investigat ed whether various aspects of morality predicted traditional bullying and cyberbullying behavior among German speaking students between the ages of 12 and 19 (Perren & Gutzwiller Helfenfinger, 2012). The authors hypothesized correlations between both forms of peer aggression and moral disengagement, as documented in previous research. However, the y also sought to determine whether correlations exist among age the two forms of peer aggression, and gender. Students were asked to complete an online questionn aire during a 3 hour time period (outside school hours) through a social networking site (NetQ) available to students betwe en the ages of 12 and 21; thus participants represent ed a self selected sample of students who appeared to actively participate on th e NetQ web site (Perren & Gutzwiller Helfenfinger, 2012). Participants were asked to report the frequency with which they had been involved with traditional and cyberbullying during the three months preceding the survey. The aut sing eleven behavior based questions ( six traditional bullying; five cyberbullying). Participants responded using a Likert type scale ranging from 1 (never) to 5 (almost every day). Before answering these questions, the definition for bullying was provid ed to participants (Perren & Gutzwiller Helfenfinger, 2012). To assess for morality indicators, Perren and Gutzwiller Helfenfinger (2012) used that detailed a student bei ng hurt by another student. One scenario focused on peer exclusion, while the other described a humiliation scenario (Perren & Gutzwiller Helfenfinger, 2012). Both scenarios were followed with questions focused on the

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54 evaluation of the victim, moral evaluation of the emotional evaluation of the victim, and moral evaluation regarding the participant as the perpetrator (Perren & Gutzwiller Helfenfinger, 2012). Moral justification was assessed questions. Moral emotions (i.e., remorse) w ere reports of feelings of remorse or guilt regarding cyberbullying scenarios (n=12). Participants responded using a 5 poi nt Likert scale ranging from 1 (not at all) to 5 (extremely) (Perren & Gutzwiller Helfenfinger, 2012). Additionally, moral values were assessed using the Ideal Self Value Ratings scale ( Pratt, Hunsberger, Pancer, & Alisat, 2003 ). Participants (n=6) r epor t ed the extent to which they felt each scenario was important to them personally. As found in previous research, Perren and Gutzwiller Helfenfinger reported a strong correlation between traditional bullying and cyberbullying : participants who reported in volvement in traditional bullying were also more likely to report involvement with cyberbullying (Smith & Slonje, 2010) Additionally, all measures of morality positively and strongly correlated with both traditional bullying and cyberbullying (Perren & G utzwiller Helfenfinger, 2012). Interestingly, l ower commitment to moral values predicted higher levels of traditional bullying, and lower feelings of remorse predicted higher level s of cyberbullying (Perren & Gutzwiller Helfenfinger, 2012). Thus, self r e ported traditional bullies indicated a decreased commitment to per sonal moral values; whereas self reported cyberbullies indicated decreased feelings of remorse for hurtful behaviors committed toward others.

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55 With respect to moral disengagement and cyberbu llying, higher levels of moral disengagement did not predict levels of cyberbullying as strongly as they predicted traditional bullying (Perren & Gutzwiller Helfenfinger, 2012). F indings of P ornari and Wood (201 0 ) are in di rect conflict with findings repo rted by Perren and Gutzwiller Helfenfinger Perhaps, inconsistencies between the results of the se two similar studies can be attributed to measurement difference s H owever, discrepancies between the findings support the need for future research and explo ration of cyberbullying and moral disengagement. Perren and Gutzwiller Helfenfinger highlighted one primary limitation to their study design : the use of an online survey. Although supports exist for administering this type of survey online (after all, one topic of interest involves peer aggression occurring in an online environment), the authors worried that the sample included an over or underrepresentation Helfenfinger, 2012, p. 205). In fa ct, Birnbaum (2004) said collecting online data cannot be assume d to represent random samples of any particular population. The authors suggested using randomization among a specified population as a possible remedy to this limitation. Regarding study strengths, the authors identified several. One highlighted strength was the age of results did not indicate a relationship between age of participant (ranged from 12 to 19) and moral disengagemen t, or involvement in either type of bullying. It was suggested that future studies explore developmental/age trends among the adolescent population to further examine possible relationships.

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56 Perhaps the most important strength of Perren and Gutzwiller H study justifications. Past research exclusively relied on self report questionnaires to explain the relationship between types of bullying and moral disenga gement. Perren and Gutzwiller Helfenfinger (2012) adopted a scenario approach in which participants bullying and cyberbullying situations (p. 206). The authors cited the ir rationale for using this f ormat as a more effective way scenarios and they discovered an area of cyberbullying research that needs further exploration. Conclusions for Consideration and Study Rationale T he virtual and electronic nature of cyberbullying dramatically changes the face of peer aggression Therefore an understanding of the processes by which youth e ngage in cyberbullying i s an important focus for future research on cyberbullying. The theory of moral disengagement conceptualized by Bandura (1991), was developed based on concerns that individuals were allowing themselves to engage in behaviors that violated their personal moral codes (Bandura, 1999). Bandura (1999) also reported that moral d isengagement occurs within a social context, and social circumstances in particular can weaken an in ternal self regulatory mechanism (i.e., conscience that prevents engagement in bad behaviors). Furthermore, Bauman (2010) posi ted that youth socialization in a technological world may be a social context that promotes moral disengagement (p. 808). Based on past research examining the the ory of moral disengagement and its possible relationship with both cyberbullying and bullying, specific methodological

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57 d ecisions were made for my study Specifically, the theoretical construct used to guide my study the population of interest for my study and the instrument developed for my study were careful decisions made from prior research suggestions and/or limitati ons. A brief explanation for each decision is provided below, followed by a descript ion of the study Theory of Moral Disengagement Previous studies indicate a relationship between bullying and moral disengagement. F indings from published research exp loring the relationship between cyberbullying and moral disengagement are conflict ed Of the two published studies that examined the relationship between cyberbullying and moral disengagement Pornari and Wood (2010) reported a relationship between the va riables, while Perren and Gutzwiller Helfenfinger (2012) did not. However, youth involved in cyberbullying are also more likely to be involved in traditional forms of bullying (Raskauskas & Stoltz, 2007). Additionally, Perren and Gutzwiller Helfenfinger (2012) suggested that youth involved in cyberbullying have lower levels of morality than youth involved in traditional bullying based on findings published by Gradinger, Strohmeir, and Spiel (2009), which reported more severe patterns of maladjustment amo ng youth involved with cyberbullying. Clearly, support for more research to examine the possible relationship between cyberbullying and moral disengagement is warranted. As a result, the Theory of Moral Disengagement (Bandura, 1991) was selected as the t heoretical framework for my study. Study Subjects Generalizations from Pornari and Wood (2010), and Perren and Gutzwiller Helfenfinger (2012) are difficult to support because o f the limited volume of literature

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58 available, and also because both studies w ere conducted outside the U.S. The literature related to cyberbullying and moral disengagement is limited to just two published studies, and neither targeted population represented American adolescents. Previously cited statistics highlight the dangers a ssociated with this form of peer aggression, and prevalence rates indicate a need for researchers to further explore this topic. In fact, the 2007 Pew Internet and American Life Project reported 35 to 40% of U.S. adolescents admitted to cyberbullying a pe er. These statistics suggest cyberbullying may be more com mon than once thought, and this form of peer aggression may represent the dominant form of bullying behavior among children and adolescents (Englander, Mills & McCoy, 2009, p. 217). Research focus ed on cyberbullying and moral disengagement represents an important next step for cyberbullying research among adolescents in the U.S. A relationship between age and cyberbullying involvement has also been documented Pornari and Wood (2010) posited that because physical aggression declines as children age, cyber bullying may serve as an alternative form of peer to peer aggression for adolescents Furthermore, the high prevalence rates documented by Pornari and Wood (2010) suggest that cyber bullying will c ontinue to grow as a threat to young people as technology advances. This finding supports the need for future research examining cyberbullying and moral disengagement among older adolescents a population with greater access to various forms of technology and social media. The Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center (MARC) was developed as a result of high profile cyberbullying cases that surfaced in Massachusetts in 2005 and 2006 (Englander, Mills & McCoy, 2009). The center was called to conduct resea rch on

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59 cyberbullying among young people to gain a larger perspective for why youth chose to move peer aggression online The MARC r esearchers chose to study c ollege freshmen emoved from High School, where their online tribulations [were presumed to still be] fresh in their & McCoy, 2009, 215). As an added bonus, parental consent was not required because of the age of c ollege freshmen. As a result, c ollege freshmen would also serve as the target population of my study. Instrument Development Although several instruments have been developed to explore the relationship of moral disengagement to both bullying and cyberbullying, few of the instruments we re developed for American adolescents, and none of the instruments were specifically relation to the theory of moral disengagement. As a result, an instrument needed to be developed to answer the research questions for my study step comprehensive strategy for developing closed ended survey items was used to guide the instrum ent development process for Survey of Student Experiences with Electronic Medi a and Perceptions of Cyberbullying Behaviors. My instrument, although influenced cyberbullying, upon looking back at cyberbullying incidents during their last semester of high school, in relation to the theory of moral disengagement. Summary An exploration for why youth rely on the processes of moral disengagement to engage in immoral behaviors has the potential to provide educators and researchers with critical information r elated to cyberbullying prevention. Such information c ould aid

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60 the development of interventions designed to specifically target cyberbully ing behaviors. The aim of my study is to examine the relationship between youth cyberbullying behaviors and the theory of moral disengagement. More specifically, my study aimed to determine whether college freshmen, upon looking back at cyberbullying incidents that occurred during their final semester of high school, ethically justified the aggressive behavior(s) through the processes of moral disengagement based on victim characteristics and type of cyberbullying behavior. Additionally, inquiries regarding were explored. The following r esearch questions guide d my study: 1. Are higher levels of acceptability for cyberbullying behaviors related to higher levels of moral disengagement? 2. Are lower levels of seriousness for cyberbullying behaviors related to higher levels of moral disengagement? 3. Are higher levels of acceptability for cyberbullying based on victim characteristics related to higher levels of moral disengagement? 4. Are lower levels of seriousness for cyberbullying based on victim characteristics related to higher levels of moral diseng agement? 5. Are higher levels of justification for cyberbullying among students who report cyberbullying others related to higher levels of moral disengagement? hypothesized that higher le vels of moral disengagement will relate to increased acceptability for and lower perceptions of the seriousness associated with cyberbullying behaviors among the target population. If youth report higher levels of moral disengagement, then it would seem p lausible that they would likely indicate greater acceptability for cyberbullying behaviors. Additionally, these same youth would seemingly be more apt to report lowered levels of seriousness associated with

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61 cyberbullying behaviors. When examining the rea son for increased acceptability of cyberbullying behaviors, it is hypothesized that youth will report greater acceptability for cyberbullying based on certain victim characteristics. Likewise, it is hypothesized that youth will report reduced levels of se riousness associated with cyberbullying based on certain victim characteristics. Lastly, if youth report greater acceptability and lowered levels of seriousness for cyberbullying behaviors based on certain victim characteristics, it is also hypothesized t hat youth report ing higher levels of moral disengagement will also indicate having justifi ed cyberbul lying among students who reported that they cyberbullied others during their final semester of high school C hapter 3 offers a thorough description of the methodology. More specifically, the development of the Survey of Student Experiences with Electronic Media and step comprehensive strategy is detailed Additionally, results from the pilo t survey will also be presented

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62 Figure 2 1. Theory of moral disengagement

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63 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY Youth involved in cyberbullying experience negative health and academic concerns, and are at greater risk for dropping out of high school ( David Ferdon & Hertz, 2009; David Ferdon & Hertz, 2007; Ybarra, Mitchell, Wolak, & Finkelhor 200 6 ). Such negative effects contribute to higher levels of risk behavior, including exposure to and involvement with violence into adulthood, as well a s poor health and diminished quality of life throughout adulthood ( David Ferdon & Hertz, 2009; David Ferdon & Hertz, 2007; Ybarra, Mitchell, Wolak, & Finkelhor 2006 ). To date, the content used in cyberbullying prevention programs ha s not focused on why y outh engage in peer aggression using electronic media Additionally, research concerning why youth choose to enga ge in cyberbullying is limited although a few studies have explored the relationship between cyberbullying and moral disengagement, and the r esults have been promising Further exploration of the relationship between cyberbullying and the theory of moral disengagement is necessary, and can provide knowledge t o inform existing school interventions targeting cyberbullying prevention (Ponari & Wo od, 2010), a nd can assist in developing app ropriately design ed prevention and intervention activities to meet the needs of different adole scents (David Ferdon & Hertz, 2009). To add to this important body of literature, my study explore d whether college f reshman, upon looking back at cyberbullying incidents that occurred during their final semester of high school, ethically justified the aggressive behavior(s) through the process es of moral disengagement based on victim characteristics and type of cyberbu llying behavior

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64 Research Design My study u s ed a correlational research design to describe the statistical association among multiple variables. T o provide a better description of the relationship between cyberbullying and moral disengagemen t, a regress ion analysis was performed for those cases where a positive association between cyberbullying and moral disengagement exists. Specifically, my study was planned to determine whether higher levels of moral disengagement are associated with (1) increased ac ceptability for cyberbully ing behaviors among students (2) l ower levels of seriousness for cyberbully ing behaviors among students (3) increased acceptability for cyberbullying based on victim characteristics (4) lower levels of seriousness for cyberbull ying based on victim characteristics, and (5) justification for cyberbullying among students who report cyberbullying others N ote that my study report ed relationship s among the variables listed above (i.e., whether the data show a statistical relationshi p ) Correlational research does not imply causation, and results from my study can only be used as a means for describing the relationship between the cyberbullying and moral disengagement variables If there is a positive relationship between variables, justification for further research to explore the relationship is confirmed and supported including an exploration of predictor variables Research Variables My study desc ribed the relationship between the processes of moral disengagement and cyberbul lying behavior school for two primary variables: acceptability for cyberbullying, and level of seriousness for cyberbullying. For all five research question s, the four process es of moral disengagement served as i ndependent variables. In RQ 1, acceptability for

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65 cyberbullying and cyberbullying behaviors served as dependent variables ; in RQ2, level of seriousness for cyberbullying behaviors served as the dependent variable ; in RQ3 acceptability for cyberbullying bas ed on victim characteristics served as the dependent variable ; in RQ4, level of seriousness for cyberbullying based on victim characteristics served as the dependent variable ; and, in RQ5, justifiability for cyberbullying behaviors s erved as the dependent variable Measurements : Instrument Development Process Several instruments that explore student perceptions of cyberbullying were developed and published during the past 10 years. Additionally, Bandura (1995) created the Moral Disengagement Scale, a 32 item self report measure that assesses use cognitive mechanisms that justify aggressive and violent perceptions of cyberbullying behaviors in r elation to the theory of moral disengagement had not been published at the time of my study As a result, an instrument needed to be developed to answer the research questions for my study. To guide the instrument development process for Survey of Studen t Experiences with Electronic Media and Perceptions of Cyberbullying Behaviors step comprehensive strategy (Figure 3 1) for developing closed ended survey items was used. Krause (2002) described a multi modal technique for develop ing close ended survey questions that effectively bridges both qualitative and quantitative methodological approaches. F igure 3 1 shows instrument development process. Literature review Before strategy for developing close d ended survey items a thorough literature review was conducted to explore cyberbullying research

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66 trends. Upon review of the existing literature, a few studies were discovered that ing Although they were few in number, these studies indicated a positive correlation between bullying and moral disengagement (MD). Before 2010, research on MD and cyberbullying was nonexistent. However, Ponari and Wood (2010) examined the role of moral disengagement in peer and cyber aggression among secondary students from the United Kingdom. The ir results indicate that cyber aggression was predicted by MD, but highlighted the need for more resea rch Thus, further exploration of cyberbullying and MD could provide actions, and, as a result, led to the development of effective school interventio ns targeting cyberbullying Additionally, an e xploration of the factors related to individuals involved with cyberbullying, as well as the type of cyberbullying behaviors and the electronic media through which the aggressive act is committed will assist in the development of appropriately designed prevention and intervention activities to meet the needs of differ ent adolescents (David Ferdon & Hertz, 2009). To aid cyb erbullying prevention efforts, my study examined the relationship between youth cyberbullying behaviors and the theory of moral disengagement. My study aimed to determine whether college freshm e n, u pon looking back at cyberbullying incidents that occurred during their final semester of high school, ethically justified the aggressive behavior(s) through the processes of moral disengagement based on victim characteristics and type of cyberbullying beha vior.

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67 College freshmen were surveyed for two reasons: (1) college freshmen have been removed from high school for less t han one year, thus can recall experiences with and perceptions of c yberbullying during high school ; and, (2) college freshmen are more likely to honestly and fully report their cyberbullying experiences during high school now that they are removed from high school. Because of the nature of the subject matter my study instrument was designed to be admin istered online. One of the primar y types of electronic media used by youth to engage in cyberbullying behaviors is computers to connect to the Internet ( Smith & Slonje, 2010 ). I n a recent report about teens and technology, The Pew Research Center (2013) said 93% of American teens have a computer or have access to one at home and 95% of teens use the internet (Madden, Lenhart, Duggan, & Gasser, 2013). Additionally, 78% of teens now have a cell phone, and nearly half (47%) of them own smartphones with access to the Internet (Madden, Lenha rt, Duggan, & Gasser, 2013). Thus, using the Internet for data collection can improve a ccess to the target population A dditionally, a mong college students, web based surveys are more cost effective and convenient than other modes of survey research. A meta analysis comparing web and mail surveys among college respondents said th e web survey response rate was 3% higher ( Shih & Xitao 2008) B enefits of u s ing web based surveys include reduced implementation costs, faster data collection, improved formatt ing, elimination of data entry, and reduced processing costs ( Dillman 2007) brevity and implementing multiple survey reminders a higher response rate is more likely ( Dillman 2007) Thus, my study was administered online, notifying participants via multiple reminders to respond to the one time survey. Participants were told they had

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68 the option of discontinuing the survey at any point. In addition, no e mail or IP addresses were collected in order to ensure the anonymity of subjects. Identify concepts and conceptual framework Ba n (MD) was chosen as the theoretical framework for my study. Th is theory suggests that individuals allow themselves to engage in behaviors they would normally cons ider unethical, wrong and harmful by engaging in a socio cognitive process in which harmful acts against others are rationalized and justified. Individuals undergo the socio cognitive reconstruction through four psychological processes: cognitive restruc turing, minimizing agency, disregarding or distorting the harmful consequences, and dehumanizing or blaming the victim. Development of Preliminary Measur es Preliminary measures were developed based on existing study questionnaires for bullying and the t heory of moral disengagement, as well as cyberbullying research ( Appendix F ) Likert type scales s of attitudes and provide high reliability (Creswell, 2012); thus t his format was used for many of the surv ey items. Special attention was given to avoid ing the use of vague words, technical terms, and double nega tive wording. The instrument identifi ed and repeatedly reminded participants of the time period in which their responses should be framed (during thei r last semester of high school). Additionally, definitions important to the content of the instrument (i.e., , cyberbullying given to make sure used the same definition for their item responses. Si x scenario statements were developed for each of the 4 processes of MD. The statements reflected a cyberbullying behavior or a belief about cyberbullying.

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69 Respondents were asked to identify the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with each statement using a 5 point Likert type scale consisting of the following options: strongly agree, agree, neither agree nor disagree, disagree, and strongly disagree. Some of these quest ions were developed based on MD questions used by Hymel, Rocke Henderson, and Bon anno (2005). A total of 24 questions were developed (6 questions per each MD process). To assess acceptability for cyberbullying, three questions were developed to various cyberbullying behaviors, and acceptability of picking on someone based on specific personal characteristics of the individual who was picked on These questions also required respondents to select from a list of Likert type respo nses consisting o f never okay, rarely okay sometimes okay usually okay and always okay Two perceptions of the l evel of seriousness regarding various cyberbullying behaviors, and level of seriousness associa ted with picking on someone based on specific characteristics. Response options for these questions included Likert type responses consisting of n ever serious rarely serious, sometimes serious, usually serious, and always serious. Additionally, responden ts were asked to report wh ether their behavior or action related to cyberbullying was ever justifiable if they had picked on a classmate using electronic media. Response options ranged from never justifiable to always justifiable N ever picked on a clas a respondent never engaged in this behavior.

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70 Related to personal experiences with cyberbullying during high school, respondents were asked to report how often (1) they experienced cyberbullying, (2) they observed a classmate experience cyberbullying, and (3) they cyberbullied a classmate. Students recorded their involvement with cyberbullying by responding to scenario questions that identified involvement with specific cyberbullyin g behaviors. Each type of involvement included 10 scenarios, and the same scenarios were used for each of the three types of involvement assessed. Response options for these questions included Liker t type responses consisting of never, once, a few times several times, and many times. Respondents were also directly asked whether they had (1) been cyberbullied, (2) observed others being cyberbullied, and (3) cyberbullied others during their final semester of high school. The final set of questions focu se d on demographic information. The primary purpose for the se questions wa s to tell the researcher more about survey participants. D emographic questions explored the following information about participants: age, gender, sexual orientation, race/ethnicit y, where they attended high school, type of high school they received their diploma from, and level of popularity during high school. The demographic questions were placed at the end of the survey. Review by Expert Panel The expert panel consisted of fi ve scholars knowledgeable in the area of cyberbullying or youth development and instrument development or statistical analysis All panel member s received the complete preliminary questionnaire a nd a list of questions to help guide their thinking during survey review The panel was asked to evaluate the content, instrument structure, and ability of the measures to produce data appropriate to answer the stated research questions. Problems identified by the expert

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71 panel were discussed with supervisory commi ttee members and potential solutions were proposed. The panel judged the ability of specific questions related to the Theory of Moral Disengagement to adequately address each of the four processes In addition to reviewing questions and response formats, the panel was also asked to review the demographic questions Based on input from the expert review panel, changes were made to the survey instrument, including updates to the cyberbullying definition. Specifically, reviewers requested that the definitio n of cyberbullying used in the survey b e more restrictive to include differential power and repetition All reviewers questioned the time frame in which respondents w ere being asked to recall. Common feedback from reviewers wa s that it would be nearly i mpossible for college freshman to recall cyberbullying incidents to revise the timeframe to the last semester of high school, and also decided to survey newly admitte d college freshman during the late summer early enrollment time period. Thus, this population would access the survey only a few months after high school graduation, and within 6 months from their last semester of high school. The ability to recall cyber bullying incidents within the last semester of high school is more realistic for college freshman, and also is a shorter and more specific time frame. Further edits included close examination of similar questions to avoid duplication and the arrangement of the instrument was edited to begin with the most important information Additionally, in an attempt to improve instrument validity, one reviewer suggested adding cyberbullying involvement questions from the Cyberbullying and Online Aggression Survey Ins trument (Hinduja & Patchin, 2010). While four questions

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72 from that survey were adopted, the target audience for the Hinduja and Patchin survey wa s high school students. T h at same reviewer suggested the target audience be changed to high school students ; h owever, college freshman can provide a unique perspective about their high school experiences with cyberbullying. Thus, in four questions from the Cyberbullying and Online Aggression Survey Instrument were adopted and modified for my study. Edits were also made to demographic questions. The age question was changed to open ended; the sexual preference question was modified to better reflect the American College Health Association standard response options ; and, questions about high school type and location (city and state) were added. During the course of the editing process, the literature was consulted to support decisions about recommended changes as they applied to previous qualitative and quantitativ e cyberbullying studies. Cognitive Interviews After were conducted with members of the target audience The purpose of the interviews was to assess item interpretability by the participants. Particip ants may have trouble understanding questions with negative phrasing, clauses to the behavior, or answers depending on further information, not specified in the question ( Dillman 2007). Sometimes issues arise due to cultural and societal differences betwe en researchers and the participants. Thus, it is critical for each item to be clear, concise, and completely exhaustive. Interviewees were recruited via word of mouth and asked to think aloud while completing the instrument. The cognitive interview (Appen dix C) focused on assessing four components: comprehension of questions, appropriateness of available response options ability to recall information during the time period specified, and personal

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73 opinion regarding the likelihood that their peers would res pond accurately and honestly to the questionnaire. P articipants completed the cognitive interview in a conference room with the researcher. All interviews were audio recorded. Cognitive interviews were conducted with six students ( four female two male ). The self reported ethnicity of the participants was diverse although sample demographics did not fully represent the overall university. T wo students self identified as White ; two students self identified as Hispanic or Latino/a ; one student self identif ied as Black or African American ; and one student self identified as Bi racial or Multi racial. Five cognitive interview participants reported their sexuality as heterosexual and all participants reported never having been cyberbullied during the last se mester of high school. Five participants reported never having cyberbullied others, while one participant reported cyberbullying others a few times during the last semester of high school. A ll p articipants reported having seen others being cyberbullied d uring their last semester of high school a few times (n=1), several times (n=2), or many times (n=3). C ognitive interviews were analyzed via researcher notes Audio recordings were used to supplement researcher notes. Findings were used to further edit t he instrument. Specifically, t he definition of cyberbullying was further clarified; questions pertaining to participant involvement in cyberbullying were re ordered and re worded. In addition, greater emphasis was placed on formatting the web survey to in clude bolded categories, increased spacing, and larger font size. C ognitive interviews also provided positive feedback concerning the survey instrument. All participants expressed i nterest in the topic, and a ll believed their peers would answer the quest ions honestly. Addi tionally, all participants believed the length

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74 of the survey (i.e., time commitment) was appropriate and would not impede students from beginning or finishing the survey. When asked whether the format of the questions was adequate, all participants sai d the flow of the survey was appropriate and the table formatting used for the questions with sub questions, a s well as the use of bold font for emphasis used throughout the survey help ed the reader identify exactly what the researcher wa nted to know. Lastly, all participants s aid the time frame respondents were asked to reflect on would not be an issue for freshman students to recall. This feedback supported the use of college freshman to explore their experiences with cyberbullying dur ing high school. Pilot Test After editing the instrument based on cognitive interviews, a pilot study was conducted. The pilot study served as a quality check among the target population. The survey was loaded onto Qualtrics (Qualtrics, Provo, UT) a com mercial internet survey software program Qualtrics was used to collect and store electronic study data. A total of 6,2 1 0 students were selected by the registrar to participate in the pilot study. All selected students were classified as freshman at a la rge u niversity in the s outheast quadrant of the United States and all were admitted to the u niversity for the late summer or fall 2012 terms Invited participants received one initial contact via email, followed by t wo additional email reminders over the course of 2 weeks. To ensure anonymity , and e mails were not collected. Respondents were notified of their right to discontinue the questionnaire at any point without retribution. Data w ere entered in to IBM SPSS Statistics 21 statistical software used for analyzing data Each question on the survey was coded numerically to facilitate data

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75 analysis. Response patterns were assessed by age, gender, sexual prefer ence, and relationship status. D istribution of missing respons es was analyzed. A ll currently enrolled u niversity freshm e n enrolled in their first year at this u niversity, received an email about the survey (n=62 1 0) A total of 3 01 students completed the instrument resulting in a 4.84 % response rate. In general, online surveys are much less likely to achieve response rates as high as surveys administered via the telephone or face to face and most online response rates fall between 10 and 20% (Nulty, 2008). Obviously, this pilot study response rate was significan tly lower than the average response rate for online surveys. M any conditions affect ed the pilot study response rate. First, the survey was administered one week before the last week of classes for the term, and continued through final exam week. Thus, t he pilot study are preoccupied with studying for final exams. Second, participants were not offered an incentive for participating in the study. Offering incentives to survey respondents is one of the most effective strategies to improve survey response rates (Nulty 2008), and this tactic was adopted for the final study. Finally, while the web link to the online survey was emailed to all currently enrolled freshman a list provided by the registrar the response rate may have be en influenced by non receipt of survey materials. S tudent email addresses may not be reliable as students may not have check ed their college email account during the weeks the survey was op en. Similarly, some email inbox es might have been full which would prevent the stud ent email

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76 Nevertheless, the survey response rate, though low, was sufficient for examining pilot data and yielded 3 01 completed surveys. Data analysis was completed for the pilot study data, and the statistical tests run were used to examine the adequacy of the newly designed instrument. More specifically, correlations w ere performed among independent and dependent va riables pertaining t o each research question to examine the structure and psychometric propert ies of the newly developed instrument Additionally, close attention was given to establishing the reliability and validity of the new instrument. P revalence statistics were also calculated using descriptive characteristics to view student involvement in cyberbullying during their last semester of high school. These statistics were then compared to findings reported by Patchin and Hinduja ( 2010 ), as the prevalence questions pertai ning to offending and victimization (n=4) were adopted and revised (with author permission ) based on similar measure s used by Patchin and Hinduja (2010) as the perpetrator and vi ct im, questions were added that also investigated their role as an observer to cyberbullying. Hinduja and Patchin (2010) did not collect this data in their previous cyberbullying studies; however, during communication with the authors regarding use of quest ions from their instrument, adding questions regarding cyberbullying observation was both supported and encouraged. More information about compare to those found by Hind uja and Patchin (2010) is discussed in C hapters 4 and 5.

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77 Based on results from the pilot study, a few minor revisions were made to the final study protocol. First, an incentive was added to increase survey response rate. A $50 Visa gift card was given to four participants. Due to state of Florida legalities, the four chosen participants could not be randomly selected from the group of survey participants; rather, the Institutional Review Board required that the gift cards be awarded to the first two, a nd last two survey participants. Nevertheless, the advertisement of a possible survey incentive was advertised to the target population in the email message introducing the survey, a nd the informed consent. Additionally, to help boost the survey respons e ra te, a sentence was added to the survey email reminders and the informed consent about the time required for survey completion. The added sentence explained to prospective respondents that a lthough the survey may appear long, the average completion tim e for th e survey was previously recorded as 10 to 15 minutes among college freshme n. This sentence was deemed critical, as the pilot survey attrition rate clearly showed significant participant drop off before the start of each survey section. The attrit ion rate for the pilot survey explained to the researchers that as students moved from one question to the next, and because most survey questions included multiple sub questions participants believed the survey to require more than 15 minutes to complete As a result, participants dropped out of the survey. P roviding a sentence explain ing that the average college freshmen required just 10 to 15 minutes for the survey was believed to encourage students to continue the survey, despite the many sub questio ns. P ercent to completion was al so added to the final study, for the same reasons. I ncluding percent to completion at the end of each

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78 section of questions, allowed participants to approximate the time remain ing for their survey. One question was deleted from the pilot survey. Question 8 1 was deleted because o f an apparent issue with the question, as interpreted by participants and revealed by statistical analysis Question 8 included 6 sub questions designed to M inimizing Agency Disengagement. The original adults should be held responsib le for preventing students from cyberbullying one another After running correlations between this question and the dependent var iables associated with each research question, it was apparent that something was different. The correlation was not reporting as significant, and more specifically, the correlation was negative. Nearly all other correlations were both positive and signi ficant; however, for Q uestion 8 1, the opposite was true. Two hypotheses were provided to explain the negative, insignificant correlational values. First, the question was negatively worded, thus participants may have interpreted the question or response choice incorrectly. Secondly, the question asked participants (students) to respond based on what adults should, or should not be held responsible for. This question is the only survey question students were not responding based on their personal experi enc es, nor based on how they would or would Minimizing Agency process of Moral Disengagement. One addi tional survey question was revised, also a sub question of Question 8.

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79 classmate being cyberbullied, I did not feel it was my responsibility to stop it S light Minimizing Agency gagement by directly asking student participant s about their level of respo nsibility concerning seeing or hearing about a classmate being cyberbullied. After changes made to sub questions Question 8 now contained only five sub questions. A few additional updates were made to the final study survey, although the modifications we re minor and focused on eliminatin g of duplicate information in the survey instructions and i n the informed consent document. D espite the need for survey revisions, the reliability analysis of the pilot study survey revealed a C score of .9 61. This score indicates that 96.1% of the responses reported for the pilot study survey represent a true score which confirms that con sistency measure is appropriate Thus, t his pilot test of the instrument suggested that the instrument possessed psychometric properties sufficient to continue its use Formal i nvestigation belonging to all newly admitted, freshmen students registered for the lat e summer term in which the survey was administered. The previously piloted methodology was applied in the formal investigation, with one exception. T rate, an incentive was offered to the first two and last two particip ants. On the exit page participants had the option to exit the survey and continue to the incentive form, which required submitting their email address to be considered for a $50 gift card.

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80 The formal data collection, with incentive, led to a 21.04% respo nse rate (390 respondents), a 16.2% increase from the pilot administration. Table s 4 4 and 4 5 show race and gender for the final study sample and overall freshmen population at the university Overall, the final study sample represented a sample fairly c omparable to the entire freshmen population gender and race statistics. F inal student notifications, consent information, and survey are shown in A ppendices G, H, and I R esults of the final survey a comparison of pilot study versus final study data are given in Chapter 4 Summary Although establishment of an instrument is an ongoing task requiring replication across a series of studies, my study results provide structured guidelines and encouraging results. Research on why youth choose to engage in cy berbullying is limited A lthough a few studies have explored the relationship between bullying and moral disengagement, only two studies examin ing the relationship of cyberbullying and moral disengagement have been published The Survey of Student Experi ences with Electronic Media and Perceptions of Cyberbullying Behaviors was developed to explore whether college freshman, upon looking back at cyberbullying incidents that occurred during their final semester of high school, ethically justified the aggress ive behavior(s) through the process es of moral disengagement based on victim characteristics and type of cyberbullying behavior comprehensive strategy for developing closed ended survey items guide d the development of the instrument. Af ter reviewing the literature to identify relevant concepts related to cyberbullying and moral disengagement preliminary measures we re cultivated. These measures w ere reviewed by a panel of experts, then edited and tested among the target population with c ognitive interviews. This aspect of

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81 the analysis proved productive because the researcher was able to analyze how the participant respond ed to the questions response options, length, and overall instrument construction. The instrument was revised based on feedback from cognitive interviewers, and was pilot tested among the target population. The survey was administered online, and the survey web link was emailed to all currently enrolled college freshmen at the end of the spring 2013 term. The web base d design of the instrument proved cost effective and organizing the d ata was seamless because of the online software used. P ilot data w ere analyzed using IBM SPSS Statistics Findings led to a few c hanges to the instrument includ ing eliminat ion of one sub question an d revision of another sub question. Other changes made to the final survey, including more specific information about average completion time and add ing percent to completion at the end of each survey section, primarily focused on improving the final stud y response rate. The final study was implemented several weeks later and the revised survey web link was emailed to the newly admitted college freshmen, who had graduated from high school with in the 6 months preceding survey implementation To improve th e response rate, a small incentive was provided to survey participants In C hapter 4 the results from the final study will be highlighted. The data analysis will be presented, including an explanation for the tests that were run. Statistical findings w ill also be presented, and resulting conclusions discussed in relation to the research study questions. F inal concluding remarks in relation to the implications this study has on current cyberbullying prevention efforts will not be discussed until C hapter 5

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82 Figure 3 1. Instrument development process 1. Literature Review 2. Identify Concepts & Conceptual Framework 3. Develop Preliminary Measures 4. Review by Expert Panel 5. Cognitive Interviews 6. Pilot Investigation 7. Formal Investigation 8. Psychometric Tests Instrument Development Process [Modified from Krause, 2002]

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83 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS My study explored the relationship between the theory of moral disengagement reported experiences with cyberbullying during their final semester of high s chool. Results from d ata collected during the study are presented in this chapter. These results por t of their experiences with cyberbullying during their final semester of high school, as well as relationship s among the fou behaviors as victim, offender and observer. Before analysis, all data were checked for outliers, and for any violations of the statistical assumptions for multiple linear regres sion Results from the che ck indicated no outliers and no violations of any statistical assumptions. A total of 458 respondents consented to the survey. However, 68 freshmen consented to participate in the survey, yet never responded to a single question These participants were deleted from the data set. The total number of survey respondents was therefore recorded as 390. Instrument Th e purpose of my study was to describe the relationship between the processes of moral disengagement and cyberbullying high school The two primary variables of interest were acceptability for cyberbullying, and level of seriousness for cyberbullying. The instrument consisted of 23 questions, and several of the questions con tained multiple sub questions (Appendix H) The first 10 questions were developed specifically for my study, and are collectively referred to as the Student Experiences with Electronic Media and Perceptions of Cyberbullying Behaviors survey instrument. T he se questions were developed from an extensive

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84 literature search, and then revised based on feedback from expert reviewers, feedback from cognitive reviewers who were members of the target audience, and feedback collected during the pilot study. Questio ns 11 through 16 were adopted and modified with permission from the Cyberbullying and Online Aggression Survey Instrument (Hinduja & Patchin, 2010) These questions focused on explor ing their last semester of high school as the cyberbully, victim, and observer. While four quest ions were adopted from the Cyberbullying and Online Aggression Survey Instrument (Hinduja & Patchin, 2010 ), two new questions were added to the instrument in order to assess the part observer, or bystander during cyberbullying. Q uestions 17 through 23 collected demographic information from the participants. D emographic questions explored the age, gender, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity of survey participa nts. Q uestions also included the location and type of high school participants attended, a nd popularity level of the participants during the ir last semester of high school Pilot Test A pilot study was conducted a fter editing the instrument based on fee dback provided by expert reviewers, as well as cognitive interviews conducted with members of the target population. The pilot study served as a quality check among the target population. The survey was administered online during spring semester. A link to the survey was sent to all freshmen enrolled during spring semester who had graduated fro m high school within the past twelve months. A total of 6,210 students were selected by the registrar to participate in the pilot study. In addition to initial c ontact via email,

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85 two additional follow up email reminders were sent over the course of two weeks. A total of 301 students completed the instrument which represents 4.84 % of the entire population (n=6,210) This response rate was significantly lower than the average response rate for online surveys. Two preexisting conditions negatively affected the response rate: (1) the survey was administered one week before the last week of classes for the term, and continued through final exam week; and, (2) partici pants were not offered an incentive for participating in the study T he survey response rate, although low, was sufficient for examining pilot data. Data analysis was completed for the pilot study, and the statistical tests run were used to examine the adequacy of the newly designed instrument. More specifically, correlations w ere performed among independent and dependent variables pertaining to each research question to examine the structure and psychometric propert ies of the newly developed instrumen t C lose attention was also given to establishing the reliability and validity of the new instrument. Based on results from the pilot study, a few minor revisions were made to the final study protocol. First, an incentive was added to increase survey res ponse rate. A $50 Visa gift card wa s awarded to the first and last two survey participants. Second, to help boost survey response, a sentence was added to survey email reminders and the informed consent about average time required for survey completion. The added sentence explained to prospective respondents that average completion time for th e survey was recorded between 10 to 15 minutes among college freshme n. One sub question was deleted from the pilot survey. Sub q uestion 8 1 was deleted due to an apparent issue with how participants interpreted the question,

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86 revealed through statistical analysis. This sub question wa s the only survey question requiring students to respond based on an adults responsibility level with regard to cyberbullying The wording of another sub question from Question 8 was updated to better align with the process of MD. A few additional updates were made to the final study survey, although the modifications were minor and focused on the elimination of duplicate information in the survey instructions and within the informed consent document. It is important to note, however, that despite the need for survey revisions, the reliability analysis of the pilot Cronbach's alpha wa s the measure of internal consistency for this instrument. A reliability of .80 or higher is acceptable, and a score above .90 is considered excellent. Thus, the pilot instrument analysis confirmed that the instrument possessed psychometric properties sufficient to continue its use Final Study A reliability analysis was also conducted to estimate the internal consistency of the Student Experiences with Electronic Media and Perceptions of Cyberbullying Behaviors final s urvey instrument. For the final study, for the entire instrument was .96 3 Th is reliability was closely related to the pilot study reliability, which was computed at .961. reliability analysis further supp orts that this instrument is a reliable measure for the variables of interest. Survey questions 7 through 10 were specifically related to the four processes of moral disengagement, thus each question was considered a subscale of the instrument. Each quest ion included a set of items that comprised the subscale. Questions 7 through 10 were renamed MD1, MD2, MD3, and MD4, respectively with each focusing

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87 on one process of moral disengagement Specifically, MD1 represent ed cognitive restructuring, MD2 repres ent ed minimizing agency MD3 represent ed distortion of negative consequences, and MD4 represent ed blaming/dehumanizing the victim. Throughout th is chapter, Q uestions 7 through 10 are referred to as MD1, MD2, MD3, and MD4, respectively. The total score for each of the MD subscale s was computed by summing the score of the items in the relevant question Q uestions 7, 9, and 10 each contained six sub questions, thus the minimum score possible was six and the maximum score possible was 30. Q uestion 8 cont ained just five sub questions, therefore the minimum score possible was five and the maximum score possible was 25. Cronbach's alpha wa s the measure of internal consistency for each subscale. The re liability f or each MD sub scale is shown in Table 4 1 D escriptive statistics for the sub scales are shown Table 4 2 Demographics Participants were recruited from a large University in the southeastern quadrant email addresses belonging to all newly admitted, freshmen students registered for the late summer term in which the survey was administered. A total of 1,853 freshmen were solicited to participate in the survey Al l communication to participants was through e mail messages including one initial email that introduced the researcher and the study, and included the web link to the survey ; and three reminder emails sent at the end of the first, second, and third week of the survey opening period N ote that this g roup of freshmen w as beginning their first semester of enroll ment at th is u niversity and had recently graduated from high school

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88 A total of 390 freshmen participated in the survey, which re presents 21.04% of the entire class of newly admitted summer 2 013 freshmen (n=1,853) all of which were invited to participate in the survey This response rate represents a significant increase when co m pared to the pilot survey ( 4.84% response rate). The increase is attributed to the timing of the survey release and the addition of an incentive. The first email message about the survey was sent during the early part of the semester; thus, the survey did not compet e with final exams, as the pilot survey had. Additionally, the survey was available for one week lon ger than the pilot survey had been available An incentive was also added for the final survey. Collectively, the se updates to the final survey resulted in a survey response increase of 16.2% when compared to the pilot study survey response rate As previously mentioned, t he final sample consisted of 390 freshmen. However, the survey attrition rate resulted in a loss of 30 participants by the final survey question (n=360). Survey attrition was also a problem for the pilot survey, as there was a los s of 41 participants between the first and last survey question. A ttrition rate s for the pilot and final survey w ere 13.62 and 7.69%, respectively. Much like the improved survey response rate, it seems the reduc ed attrition rate can be attributed to the timing of the survey, as well as the addition of the survey incentive Of the 361 survey participants responding to the gender question, 31.0% self identified as male (n=112), 68.1% self identified as female (n=246), and less than 1% self identified as t ransgender (n=3). N ote that the gender breakdown among the entire freshman class contribute d to the increase in female respondents Among the entire freshmen population, approximately 59% self identif ied as female, and 41% as male.

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89 Thus, before the firs t email was sent to participants, female participant s (n=1335) hel d an 18% advantag e over male participants (n=932). Additionally, a lthough females represented slightly more than two thirds of survey respondents, females were identified in past research s tudies as having a greater participation in, and exp erience with cyberbullying ( Hinduja & Patchin, 2008; Pornari & Wood 2010 ). In a study by Hinduja and Patchin (2008), efforts were undertaken to equalize youth resp ondents in terms of gender, yet most of the respondents were female (82%). The authors offered a few explanations for the gender bias among respondents : the gender breakdown may characterize the distribution of cyberbullying across youth, or it may reflect the greater impact cyberbullying has on female youth, as well as their corresponding concern with the behavior (Hinduja & Patchin, 2008) Regarding my population with a greater exposure to cyberbullying would also have a greater int erest in a survey about such behaviors. Also of importance regard ing gender, significant differences were found among mean scores of the four MD scales when comparing the scores of males and females. Th ese data further support the gender bias findings of my study, as well as findings from Hinduja and Patchin (2008), and are further discussed in Chapter 5 Most survey respondents self identified as heterosexual (n=344; 95.6%), with only 4.4% self identified as gay/lesbian (n=4), bisexual (n=7), or unsure ( n=5). Additionally, nearly two thirds of respondents self identified as W hite (n=221 ; 61.2% ), with Hispanic/Latino/a as the second most represented group (n=69 ; 19.1% ). T he breakdown of the remaining participants is as follows: Black or African American (n=34 ;

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90 9.4% ), Asian or Pacific Islander (n=25 ; 6.9% ), Bi racial or Multi racial (n=8 ; 2.2% ), Other (n=3 ; 0.8% ), and American Indian or Alaskan Native (n=1 ; 0.3%) Overall, the survey respondents were representative of the entire freshmen sample, regard ing ethnicity. A complete breakdown of the demographic descriptive statistics is given in Tabl e s 4 3 through 4 8 Note: the vast majority of participants reported attending a Florida high school during their final semester of high school. Research Questi on 1 : Are Higher Levels o f Acceptability f or Cyberbullying Behaviors Related t o Higher Levels o f Moral Disengagement ? Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated to examin e relationships among processes of MD and among Prior to calculating the Pearson correlation coefficients, the in dependent variables were recoded so that a positive association between the independent variables and the dependent variables would be expected in all cases. All correlations were positive, and considered weak. Most correlations were significant which indicated that linear associations exist among acceptability for cyberbullyin g, cyberbullying behaviors and the processes of MD. Students who reported greater acceptability for cyberbullying were also more likely to report engagement in the processes of MD. Likewise, students who reported greater acceptability for cyberbullying behaviors were also more likely to report engagement in the processes of MD (Ta ble 4 9 ) T o better describe the relationship between acceptability for cyberbullying and the process es of MD two linear regression analyses were conducted In the first anal ysis, a cceptability for cyberbullying served as the dependent variable, and MD 1 MD2, MD3,

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91 and MD4 score s represented the independent variables (n=4) A significant regression equation was found (F(4,353) = 19.158. p < .001), and 17.8% of the variation in processes of moral disengagement. More specifically, MD1 (cognitive restructuring) and MD4 (blaming and dehumanizing the victim) were both positive and significant 1 = .045 t=3.173, p=.001; 4 = .041, t=2.961, p=.002) acceptability for cyberbullying Thus, students with higher levels of the MD1 and MD4 processes of moral disengagement also reported higher levels of acceptability for cyberbullying (T a ble 4 10 ) In the second analysis, acceptability for the cyberbullying behaviors listed in Q uestion 2 served as the dependent variable, and MD1, MD2, MD3, and MD4 scores represented the independent variables (n=4). Responses for each of the ten behaviors listed in Q uestion 2 were summed and the summed score was compared to the four process es of moral disengagement. The model containing all four moral disengagement variables was significant (F(4,353) = 21.267, p < .001) and explained 19.8% of the total va riance in acceptability for cyberbullying behaviors. Furthermore, the MD1 and MD4 total score variables were significant predictors of acceptability for cyberbullying behaviors Additionally, an increase of one unit in the total score MD1 or MD4 resulted in an increase for the acceptability of cyberbullying behaviors; MD1 resulted in a .490 increase on average and MD 4 resulted in a .155 average increase 1 = .490, t=5.164, p<.0001; 4 = .155, t=1.70, p=.045) (T able 4 1 1 ) In separate analyses, acceptability for each of the individual cyberbullying behaviors in Q uestion 2 served as the dependent variables (n=10), and MD1, MD2,

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92 MD3, and MD4 scores represente d the independent variables (n=4). For all cyberbullying behaviors (2 1 through 2 10) MD1 was a positive and significant predictor. Thus, students who reported greater acceptability for the cyberbullying behaviors were also more likely to engage in the process of moral disengagement concerned with cognitive restructuring (T able 4 1 2 ) For Q uestions 2 1 and 2 7, MD4 was also a positive and significant predictor for acceptability of cyberbullying behaviors. Thus, students who reported greater acceptabilit were more likely to engage in the process of moral disengagement concerned with blaming or dehumanizing the victim in addition to the process of moral disengagement concerned with cognitive restructuring (T able 4 12 ). Research Question 2 : Are L ower L evels of S eriousness for C yberbullying B ehaviors R elated to H igher L evels of M oral D isengagement? Pearson correl ation coefficients were calculated to examine relationship s among specific cyberbullying behaviors and the processes of MD Prior to calculating the Pearson correlation coefficients, the independent and depende nt variables were recoded so that a positive association between the independent variables and the dependent variables would be expected in all cases. All correlations were positive, and considered moderate to weak With the exception of Q uestion 3 9, ea ch question had a few non significant correlations. Nevertheless, most of the correlations were significant, which indicated a linear association between seriousness for cyberbullying behaviors and the process es of MD.

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93 Students who reported low er levels of seriousness associated with cyberbullying behaviors were more likely to report engagement in the processes of MD ( Table 4 13 ) T o better describe relationship s among seriousness for cyberbullying behaviors and the process es of MD two linear regression analyses w ere conducted. Seriousness for cyberbullying behaviors served as the dependent variable, and MD1, MD2, MD3, and MD4 scores represented the independent variables (n=4) in the first analysis Q uestion 3 consisted of 10 sub questions each represe nting a different behavior Responses for each of the ten behaviors were summed and the summed score was compared to the four processes of moral disengagement to determine which specific cyberbullying behaviors show ed significant results. The model cont aining all four moral disengagement variables as independent variables was found to be significant (F(4,35 1 ) = 1 1 271 p < .001), and explained 1 1 4% of the variation associated with seriousness for cyberbullying behaviors More specifically, MD1 (cogniti ve restructuring) and MD 3 ( distortion of negative consequences ) were both positive and significant seriousness for cyberbullying behaviors 1 = .486, t=2.736, p=.00 4 ; 3 = .371, t=2.026, p=.022) Thus, students with higher levels of the MD1 and MD 3 processes of moral disengagement also reported low er levels of seriousness associated with cyberbullying. On average, ess for cyberbullying behaviors increased .486 units due to an increase on the MD1 scale and .371 units due to an increase on the MD3 scale (T able 4 1 4 ) In the second analysis seriousness for each of the cyberbullying behaviors listed in Q uestion 3 serv ed as the dependent variable s (n=10) and MD1, MD2, MD3, and

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94 MD4 scores represented the independent variables (n=4 ) The variable MD1 was a positive and significant predictor for all but two cyberbullying behaviors. The variable MD1 was not significant f or 3 6 (pretending to be someone else online and acting in a way that was mean or hurtful to them) or 3 10 (threatening to hurt someone through electronic media). For sub questions 3 6 and 3 10 MD3 w as a pos itive and significant predictor for lower leve ls of seriousness for the cyberbullying behaviors T hus, students who reported low er levels of seriousness for the large majority of cyberbullying behaviors were more likely to engage in the process of moral disengagement concerned with cognitive restruct uring. However, students who reported lower levels of seriousness for sub questions 3 6 and 3 10 were more likely to engage in the process of moral disengagement concerned with distortion of negative consequences. For sub questions 3 4, 3 5, and 3 8 bo th MD1 and MD3 were positive and significant predictors for lower levels of seriousness for the cyberbullying behaviors Thus, students who reported lower levels of seriousness for creating a mean or hurtful web page about someone ut someone online, and a mean or hurtful picture of to engage in the process es of moral disengagement concerned with cognitive restructuring as well as distortion of negative consequenc es (T able 4 1 5 ) Research Question 3 : Are Higher L evels of A cceptability for C yberbullying B ased on V ictim C haracteristics R elated to H igher L evels of M oral D isengagement? Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated to examine the relationship between acceptability for cyberbullying based on victim characteristics and the processes of MD Prior to calculating the Pearson correlation

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95 coefficients, the independent variables were recoded so that a positive association between the independent variables and the dependent variables would be expected in all cases. All correlations were positive, and ranged from weak to moderate. T he majority of the correlations were significant, which indicated a linear association between accep tability for cyberbullying b ased on victim characteristics and the processes of MD. Students who reported high er levels of acceptability for cyberbullying based on victim characteristics were more likely to report engagement in the processes of MD ( Table 4 16 ) T o better describe the relationship between acceptability for cyberbullying based on victim characteristics and the processes of MD, two linear regression analyses w ere conducted. Acceptability for cyberbullying based on victim characteristics serv ed as the dependent variable, and MD1, MD2, MD3, and MD4 scores represented the independent variables (n=4). Q uestion 4 consisted of 10 sub questions each representing a different victim characteristic Responses for each of the ten victim characteristi cs were summed and the summed score was compared to the four processes of moral disengagement to determine which specific victim characteristics displayed significant results. The model containing MD1, MD2, MD3 and MD4 as independent variables was found to be significant (F(4,351) = 39.284 p < .001), and explained 30.9 % of the variation associated with acceptability for cyberbullying based on victim characteristics Overall MD1 (cognitive restructuring) MD3 (distortion of negative consequences) and M D4 (blaming/dehumanizing the victim) were positive and significant predictors of acceptability for cyberbullying based on victim characteristics ( 1 = .415,

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96 3 = .205, t=2.165, p=.01 2 4 = .264, t=3.00, p=.00 2 ) Thus, students with higher levels of the MD1 MD3, and MD 4 processes of moral disengagement also reported higher levels of acceptability for cyberbullying based on victim cha racteristics with an average increase in acceptability of 415, .205 and .264 per unit of moral disengagement for the MD1, MD3 and MD4 processes respectively (T able 4 1 7 ) In the second analysis, acceptability for cyberbullying based on each of the victi m characteristics served as the dependent variables (n=10), and MD1, MD2, MD3, and MD4 scores represented the independent variables (n=4 ) The variable MD1 was a positive and significant predictor for all but three victim characteristics The variable MD 1 was not significant for 4 3 (religious beliefs), 4 8 (physical disability), or 4 9 (learning disability). Thus, students who reported greater acceptability for cyberbullying ity, did not engage in the process of moral disengagement focused on cognitive restructuring. Instead, students used the process of moral disengagement focused on distortion of negative consequences for victims with a physical or learning disability, and used the processes of moral disengagement focused on distortion of negative consequences and blaming/dehumanizing the victim for victims with different religious beliefs. The variables MD1 and MD4 were positive and significant predictor s for sub questions 4 1 (body size or features) 4 2 (sexual orientation) 4 4 (race/ethnicity) 4 7 (style of dress, or clothes) and 4 10 (popularity level). Thus, students who reported sexu al orientation race/ethnicity style of dress, or clothes and popularity level were also more

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97 likely to engage in the processes of moral disengagement focused on cognitive restructuring and blaming or dehumanizing the victim. Additionally, MD1, MD3, and MD4 were positive and significant predictor s for sub questions 4 6 (accent, or how one talks) Students who and accent were also more likely to engage in the processes of moral disengagement focused on cognitive restructuring, distortion of negative consequences, and blaming/dehumanizing the victim (T able 4 1 8 ) Research Question 4 : Are L ower L evels of S eriousness for C yberbullying B ased on V ictim Ch aracteristics R elated to H igher L evels of M oral D isengagement? Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated to examine the relationship behaviors based on victim characteri stics and the processes of MD. Prior to calculating the Pearson correlation coefficients, the independent and dependent variables were recoded so that a positive association between the independent variables and the dependent variables would be expected i n all cases. All correlations were positive and weak Sub q uestion 5 3 had three non significant correlations with sub questions 7 1, 8 3, and 9 6; sub question 5 4 had non significant correlations with sub questions 7 1, 8 1, 9 6; and 10 6; sub question 5 5 had non significant correlations with sub questions 7 1, 8 3, and 9 6; sub question 5 6 had non significant correlations with sub question 8 5; sub questions 5 8 and 5 9 had non significant correlations with sub questions 7 1, 7 3, 7 6, 8 1, 8 2, 8 3, 9 6, 10 2, 10 5, and 10 6; and sub question 5 10 had non significant correlations with sub question 8 3. Nevertheless, most of the correlations were significant, which

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98 indicated a linear association between seriousness for cyberbullying behaviors based o n victim characteristics and the processes of MD. Students who reported lower levels of seriousness associated with cyberbullying behaviors based on victim characteristics were more likely to report engagement in the processes of MD (Table 4 19 ) T o bette r describe the relationship between seriousness for cyberbullying behaviors based on victim characteristics and the processes of MD two linear regression analyses w ere conducted. Seriousness for cyberbullying behaviors based on victim characteristics ser ved as the dependent variable, and MD1, MD2, MD3, and MD4 scores represented the independent variables (n=4). Q uestion 5 consisted of 10 sub questions. Responses for each of the ten victim characteristics were summed and the summed score was compared to the fours process es of moral disengagement to determine which specific cyberbullying behaviors displayed significant results. The regression equation with the four processes of moral disengagement as independent variables was found to be significant (F( 4,3 49 ) = 9.634 p < .001), and explained 9.9% of the variation associated with seriousness for cyberbullying behaviors based on victim characteristics More specifically, MD1 (cognitive restructuring) and MD3 (distortion of negative consequences) were both positive and significant predictors seriousness for cyberbullying behaviors based on victim characteristics ( 1 = 3 = .618, t=2.8845, p=.002 ) Thus, students with higher levels of the MD1 and MD3 processes of moral disengagement also reported lower levels of seriousness for cyberbullying behaviors based on victim characteristics An increa se of one unit in MD1 resu lted in an average increase of 383 in level of seriousness, while an increase of one in MD3 resulted in an average increase of .618 (T able 4 20 )

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99 In the second analysis seriousness for each of the cyberbullying behaviors based o n victim characteristics served as the dependent variables (n=10), and MD1, MD2, MD3, and MD4 scores represented the independent variables (n=4 ) For all victim characteristics, MD1 and/or MD3 were po sitive and significant (p < .05 ) predictor s for cyberbu llying behaviors. The variable MD1 was significant for sub questions 5 1 and 5 10. Thus, students who reported lower levels of seriousness for cyberbullying based on or popularity level were more likely to engage in th e process of moral disengagement concerned with cognitive restructuring. The variable MD3 was significant for sub questions 5 2, 5 5, 5 8, and 5 9. Thus, students who reported lower levels of seriousness for cyberbullying ori or learning disability were more likely to engage in the process of moral disengagement concerned with distortion of negative consequences Lastly, both MD1 and MD3 were significant for sub questions 5 3, 5 4, 5 6, and 5 7. Thus, students who reported lower levels of seriousness for cyberbullying talks, or style of dress or clothes were more likely to engage in the process es of mora l disengagement concerned with cognitive restructuring and distortion of negative consequences (Tab le 4 2 1 ) Research Question 5 : Are H igher L evels of J ustification for C yberbullying among S tudents who R eport C yberbullying O thers R elated to H igher L evels o f M oral D isengagement? Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated to examine the relationship Prior to calculating the Pearson correlation coefficients, the independ ent variables were

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100 recoded so that a positive association between the independent variables and the dependent variables would be expected in all cases. All correlations were positive a nd ranged from moderate to weak Because the correlations were signifi cant, it can be concluded that a linear association exists between justification for cyberbullying and the processes of MD. Students who reported higher levels of justification for cyberbullying were more likely to report engagement in the processes of MD ( Table 4 22 ) T o better describe the relationship between justification for cyberbullying and the processes of MD, linear regression analys i s w as conducted. Justification for cyberbullying served as the dependent variable, and MD1, MD2, MD3, and MD4 scor es represented the independent variables (n=4). The regression equation was found to be significant (F(4,35 4 ) = 25.208 p < .001), and explained 2 2 2 % of the variation associated with justification for cyberbullying Overall MD1 (cognitive restructuring) and MD4 (blaming/dehumanizing the victim) were both positive and significant predictors of justification for cyberbullying ( 1 = .038, t=2.010, p=.02 3 4 = .072, t=3.997, p=.000 ) Thus, students with higher scores for the MD1 and MD 4 processes of moral disengagement also reported higher levels of justification for cyberbullying (T able 4 23 ) Summary This chapter presented findings describ ing perceptions of cyberbullying and cyberbullying behaviors during their last semester of high school, as related to the Theory of Moral Disengagement. Findings suggested a significant relationship between the processes of moral disengagement and the level s of seriousness, as well as the level s of acceptability concerning cybe rbullying, cyberbullying behaviors, and cyberbullying other s based on specific victim characteristics. Additionally, findings suggested a positive relationship between

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101 Ho wever, not all processes of moral disengagement shared a significant relationship with each independent variable. Additionally, on close examination of each cyberbullying behavior, as well as each victim characteristic, the results indicate differing rela tionships with the processes of moral disengagement. Chapter 5 will review the findings from the statistical analysis of the data, and provide conclusions to the study research questions. Additionally, implications of the study will be discussed from mult iple perspective s Finally, recommendations for future research and practice will conclude Chapter 5

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102 Table 4 1 Processes of Moral Disengagement sub scale reliability scores Sub scale Number of items MD1 cognitive restructuring 6 .8 80 MD2 minimizing agency 5 .807 MD3 distortion o f negative consequences 6 .910 MD4 dehumanizing the victim 6 .771 Table 4 2 Processes of Moral Disengagement sub scale inferential statistics Sub Scale Males Mean Females Mean Mean difference t Signifi cance MD1 cognitive restructuring 112 12.29 243 10.53 1.76 3.15 .002 MD2 minimizing agency 112 11.31 245 9.48 1.83 4.83 .000 MD3 distortion of negative consequences 111 11.12 246 8.44 2.68 2.68 .000 MD4 dehumanizing the victim 112 15.36 244 13.21 2. 15 4.20 .000 * significant at the p<0.05 level. Table 4 3 Age of survey participants Age Frequency Percent 18 353 97.50 19 8 2.20 20 1 .30

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103 Table 4 4 Race breakdown for female survey participants and total population Female survey partic ipants % of female survey population Female freshmen population % of female freshmen population American Indian or Alaskan Native 0 0 7 0.5 Asian or Pacific Islander 14 5.7 82 6.2 Black or African American 26 10.6 175 13.3 Hispanic or Latino/a 46 18.7 280 21.2 White 155 63.0 741 56.3 Bi racial or Multi racial 5 2.0 n/a n/a Other 0 0 33 2.5 Total 246 1318 Table 4 5 Race breakdown for male survey participants and total population Male survey participants % of male survey population Male freshme n population % of male freshmen population American Indian or Alaskan Native 0 0 5 0.5 Asian or Pacific Islander 11 9.8 66 7.2 Black or African American 8 7.1 78 8.4 Hispanic or Latino/a 23 20.5 187 20.6 White 64 57.1 557 60.6 Bi racial or Multi raci al 3 2.7 n/a n/a Other 3 2.7 25 2.7 Total 112 918

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104 Table 4 6 Participant sexual orientation Frequency Percent Heterosexual 344 95.60 Gay/Lesbian 4 1.10 Bisexual 7 1.90 Unsure 5 1.40 Table 4 7 Type of high school attended Frequency Percent Military high school 0 0.00 Private high school, non religious 12 3.30 Private high school, religious 44 12.20 Public high school 304 84.00 Virtual school 2 0.50 Table 4 8 Participant high school popularity level Frequency Percent Very p opular 29 8.10 Popular 109 30.30 Somewhat p opular 180 50.00 Unpopular 38 10.60 Very u npopular 4 1.00

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105 Table 4 9 Correlations between the four processes of moral disengagement, acceptability for cyberbullying, and acceptability for cyberbullying beh aviors I ndependent Variables Acceptability for CB C omments online Pictures online V ideo online H urtful web page R umors online Pretending to be someone else online Comments via text Pictures via text Video via text Threatening using electronic media MD1 co gnitive restructuring .387 .364 .338 .343 .257 .321 .333 .394 .444 .422 .292 MD2 minimizing agency .271 .241 .225 .206 .166 .225 .210 .253 .257 .271 .170 MD3 distortion of consequences .313 .220 .252 .279 .185 .206 .265 .210 .263 .266 .239 MD4 dehumani zing the victim .376 .332 .288 .252 .184 .259 .268 .351 .330 .301 .234 Table 4 10 Regression coefficients for the four processes of moral disengagement and acceptability for cyberbullying B Standard Error t Significance MD1 .045 .014 3.173 .001 MD2 .014 .018 .794 .214 MD3 .017 .015 1.145 .12 7* MD4 .041 .014 2.961 .00 2* significant at the p<0.05 level. Table 4 11. Regression coefficients for moral disengagement and acceptability for cyberbullying behaviors (collapsed) B Standard Error t S ignificance MD1 .490 .095 5.164 .000 MD2 .108 .117 .925 .177 MD3 .023 .098 .230 .409 MD4 .155 .091 1.700 .045 * significant at the p<0.05 level.

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106 Table 4 12. Regression coefficients for the four processes of moral disengagement and acceptability for cyberbullying behaviors (individually) B Standard Error t Significance 2_1 MD1 .054 .014 3.837 .000 MD2 .008 .017 .466 .320 MD3 .011 .015 .771 .220 MD4 .036 .013 2.654 .004 2_2 MD1 .038 .011 3.396 .00 1 MD2 .009 .014 .673 .251 MD 3 .009 .011 .744 .228 MD4 .016 .011 1.53 .062 2_3 MD1 .040 .010 3.986 .000 MD2 .016 .012 1.327 .09 3 MD3 .019 .010 1.848 .03 3 MD4 .003 .010 .357 .361 2_4 MD1 .027 .009 2.974 .00 2 MD2 .005 .011 .436 .33 2 MD3 .006 .009 .644 .260 MD4 .00 2 .009 .217 .414 2_5 MD1 .044 .013 3.448 .00 1 MD2 .000 .016 .026 .489 MD3 .003 .013 .210 .416 MD4 .014 .012 1.171 .121 2_6 MD1 .036 .010 3.514 .000 MD2 .014 .013 1.055 .146 MD3 .015 .011 1.411 .079 MD4 .010 .010 1.003 .158 2_7 MD1 .069 .015 4.624 .000 MD2 .009 .019 .472 .318 MD3 .024 .016 1.565 .059 MD4 .042 .014 2.888 .002

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107 Table 4 12. Continued B Standard Error t Significance 2_8 MD1 .083 .013 6.179 .000 MD2 .022 .016 1.307 .096 MD3 .004 .014 .320 .374 MD4 .017 .013 1.290 .099 2_9 MD1 .065 .012 5.503 .000 MD2 .007 .014 .496 .310 MD3 .000 .012 .024 .490 MD4 .007 .011 .621 .267 2_10 MD1 .033 .010 3.191 .001 MD2 .018 .013 1.373 .085 MD3 .016 .011 1.498 .067 MD4 .009 .010 .855 .196 signifi cant at the p<0.05 level. Table 4 13 Correlations between the four processes of moral disengagement and level of seriousness regarding cyberbullying behaviors Independent Variables Comments online Pictures online Video online Hurtful web page Rumors on line Pretending to be someone else online Comments via text Pictures via text Video via text Threatening using electronic media MD1 cognitive restructuring .313 .273 .241 .223 .320 .202 .295 .312 .290 .149 MD2 minimizing agency .231 .226 .211 .153 .208 .172 .225 .218 .224 .128 MD3 distortion of consequence s .260 .237 .232 .228 .282 .214 .227 .270 .256 .212 MD4 dehumanizing the victim .253 .193 .175 .174 .260 .168 .241 .230 .224 .133

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108 Table 4 14. Regression coefficients for moral disengagement a nd level of seriousness regarding cyberbullying behaviors (collapsed) B Standard Error t Significance MD1 .486 .177 2.736 .00 4 MD2 .009 .218 .041 .483 MD3 .371 .183 2.026 .022 MD4 .048 .169 .281 .389 significant at the p<0.05 level. Table 4 1 5 Regression coefficients for moral disengagement and level of seriousness regarding cyberbullying behaviors (individually) B Standard Error t Significance 3_1 MD1 .058 .020 2.954 .00 2 MD2 .002 .024 .100 .460 MD3 .024 .020 1.174 .120 MD4 .014 .0 19 .756 .225 3_2 MD1 .048 .020 2.451 .00 8 MD2 .022 .024 .912 .181 MD3 .028 .020 1.367 .086 MD4 .006 .019 .321 .374 3_3 MD1 .034 .020 1.688 .046 MD2 .023 .025 .925 .178 MD3 .031 .021 1.471 .071 MD4 .001 .019 .057 .477 3_4 MD1 .038 .020 1.870 .031 MD2 .012 .025 .470 .319 MD3 .046 .021 2.172 .015 MD4 .004 .019 .220 .413 3_5 MD1 .065 .021 3.172 .001 MD2 .021 .025 .808 .210 MD3 .041 .021 1.950 .026 MD4 .016 .020 .817 .207

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109 Table 4 15. Continued B Standard Error t Sig nificance 3_6 MD1 .024 .020 1.171 121 MD2 .012 .025 .460 .323 MD3 .039 .021 1.839 .033 MD4 .005 .020 .247 .402 3_7 MD1 .059 .021 2.747 .003 MD2 .014 .026 .518 .302 MD3 .011 .022 .514 .303 MD4 .017 .021 .829 .204 3_8 MD1 .067 .021 3.240 .0 0 1 MD2 .005 .026 .213 .416 MD3 .036 .021 1.701 .045 MD4 .002 .020 .109 .457 3_9 MD1 .054 .020 2.621 .00 5 MD2 .010 .025 .377 .35 4 MD3 .030 .021 1.417 .07 9 MD4 .005 .020 .276 .391 3_10 MD1 .008 .020 .421 .337 MD2 .000 .024 .014 .494 MD3 .054 .020 2.647 .004 MD4 .001 .019 .078 .469 significant at the p<0.05 level.

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110 Table 4 16 Correlations between the four processes of moral disengagement and acceptability for cyberbullying based on victim characteristics Independent Vari ables Body size Sexual orientation Religious beliefs Race or Ethnicity Family income Accent Style of dress Physical disability Learning disability Popularity MD1 cognitive restructuring .445 .468 .353 .459 .412 .413 .474 .270 .297 .450 MD2 minimizing a gency .333 .339 .323 .325 .347 .296 .356 .245 .276 .315 MD3 distortion of consequences .345 .372 .370 .334 .433 .359 .359 .313 .314 .332 MD4 dehumanizing the victim .396 .388 .351 .395 .395 .399 .432 .269 .253 .378 Table 4 17. Regression coefficient s for moral disengagement and acceptability for cyberbullying based on victim characteristics (collapsed) B Standard Error t Significance MD1 .415 .091 4.561 .000 MD2 .013 .113 .118 .453 MD3 .205 .095 2.165 .01 2* MD4 .264 .088 3.00 .00 2* signifi cant at the p<0.05 level.

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111 Table 4 18. Regression coefficients for moral disengagement and acceptability for cyberbullying based on victim characteristics (individually) B Standard Error t Significance 4 _1 MD1 .055 .013 4.135 .000 MD2 .003 .016 .165 .434 MD3 .010 .014 .690 .245 MD4 .032 .013 2.520 .006 4 _2 MD1 .059 .013 4.676 .000 MD2 .006 .016 .374 .354 MD3 .019 .013 1.464 .072 MD4 .021 .012 1.771 .03 9 4 _3 MD1 .015 .011 1.323 .09 4 MD2 .011 .014 .774 .219 MD3 .031 .012 2.666 .004 MD4 .022 .011 2.080 .019 4 _4 MD1 .064 .014 4.690 .000 MD2 .006 .017 .381 .352 MD3 .007 .014 .475 .317 MD4 .031 .013 2.402 .00 9 4 _5 MD1 .020 .009 2.106 .018 MD2 .001 .011 .115 .454 MD3 .035 .010 3.620 .000 MD4 .019 .009 2 .179 .015 4 _6 MD1 .050 .015 3.342 .00 1 MD2 .019 .019 1.041 .149 MD3 .027 .016 1.748 .04 1 MD4 .044 .015 2.999 .00 2 4 _7 MD1 .066 .016 4.249 .000 MD2 .001 .019 .069 .472 MD3 .013 .016 .802 .211 MD4 .043 .015 2.905 .002

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112 Table 4 18. Con tinued B Standard Error t Significance 4 _8 MD1 .006 .009 .709 .239 MD2 .003 .011 .260 .397 MD3 .025 .009 2.775 .003 MD4 .012 .009 4.469 .071 4 _9 MD1 .013 .009 1.378 .084 MD2 .011 .011 .953 .170 MD3 .023 .009 2.446 .00 8 MD4 .005 .009 .547 .292 4 _10 MD1 .075 .016 4.760 .000 MD2 .010 .020 .498 .309 MD3 .011 .016 .677 .249 MD4 .030 .015 1.972 .025 * significant at the p<0.05 level. Table 4 19 Correlations between the four processes of moral disengagement and level of seriousn ess regarding cyberbullying based on victim characteristics Independent Variables Body size Sexual orientation Religious beliefs Race or Ethnicity Family income Accent Style of dress Physical disability Learning disability Popularity MD1 cognitive restr ucturing .335 .235 .228 .264 .187 .308 .325 .124 .132 .298 MD2 minimizing agency .215 .199 .167 .193 .179 .212 .233 .134 .129 .208 MD3 distortion of consequences .275 .260 .234 .292 .244 .292 .278 .243 .249 .245 MD4 dehumanizing the victim .268 .209 .1 85 .213 .148 .278 .267 .141 .143 .269

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113 Table 4 20 Regression coefficients for moral disengagement and level of seriousness regarding cyberbullying based on victim characteristics (collapsed) B Standard Error t Significance MD1 .383 .208 1.844 .033 M D2 .118 .256 .463 .322 MD3 .618 .214 2.884 .002 MD4 .077 .202 .381 .352 significant at the p<0.05 level. Table 4 21 Regression coefficients for moral disengagement and level of seriousness regarding cyberbullying based on victim characteristic s (individually) B Standard Error t Significance 5 _1 MD1 .081 .023 3.528 .000 MD2 .032 .028 1.134 .129 MD3 .038 .024 1.586 .057 MD4 .020 .022 .903 .183 5 _2 MD1 .028 .023 1.255 .105 MD2 .001 .028 .033 .486 MD3 .054 .023 2.308 .011 MD4 011 .022 .510 .305 5 _3 MD1 .040 .023 1.701 .045 MD2 .012 .029 .430 .334 MD3 .053 .024 2.208 .014 MD4 .004 .022 .186 .426 5 _4 MD1 .045 .023 1.955 .025 MD2 .021 .028 .732 .232 MD3 .074 .024 3.117 .001 MD4 .001 .022 .059 .476 5 _5 MD1 .0 15 .024 .618 .268 MD2 .013 .029 .442 .329 MD3 .072 .024 2.951 .00 2 MD4 .010 .023 .444 .328

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114 Table 4 21. Continued B Standard Error t Significance 5 _6 MD1 .058 .024 2.409 .00 9 MD2 .031 .029 1.042 .149 MD3 .058 .025 2.356 .009 MD4 .03 1 .023 1.330 .092 5 _7 MD1 .066 .023 2.860 .002 MD2 .012 .029 .419 .337 MD3 .046 .024 1.921 .027 MD4 .016 .022 .732 .232 5 _8 MD1 .018 .023 .752 .226 MD2 .003 .029 .092 .463 MD3 .092 .024 3.781 .000 MD4 .007 .023 .291 .385 5 _9 MD1 .0 12 .023 .515 .303 MD2 .011 .029 .375 .354 MD3 .095 .024 3.923 .000 MD4 .005 .022 .237 .406 5 _10 MD1 .059 .025 2.406 .00 9 MD2 .017 .030 .573 .283 MD3 .034 .026 1.319 .094 MD4 .036 .024 1.525 .064 significant at the p<0.05 level.

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115 Table 4 22 Correlations between the processes of moral disengagement and justification for cyberbullying Independent Variables Justification for CB MD1 cognitive restructuring .405 MD2 minimizing agency .354 MD3 distortion of c onsequences .351 MD4 dehumanizing the victim .441 Table 4 23. Regression coefficients for moral disengagement and justification for cyberbullying B Standard Error t Significance MD1 .038 .019 2.010 .02 3* MD2 .020 .023 .844 .199 MD3 .019 .019 1.000 .159 MD4 .072 .0 18 3.997 .000 * significant at the p<0.05 level.

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116 CHAPTER 5 SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS Electronic media, including cell phones, computers, and tablets allow people to communicate with one another around the world. Electronic media prov ide easy access to a multitude of communication tools ( such as social media sites, text messages, o nline chat, email, and websites ) all of which contribute to the ease with which people can communicate with one another at any time and from anywhere. Amon g school aged y outh electronic media provide the opportunity for easy communication among friends, peers and famil y member s. A dditionally young people can quickly and easily increase their knowledge on a wide variety of topics using electronic media (C DC, Electronic Aggression 2013). Unfortunately youth can also use electronic media to harass, mistreat, or mak e fun of a peer or classmate This collective group of harmful behaviors is known as cyberbullying, and has become a major concern across the U.S. Cyberbullying is characterized as deliberate, repeated, and hostile victimization that occurs between young people throu gh the use of electronic media. A lthough not as prevalent as traditional forms of bullying, cyberbullying has the potential to b e far more damaging because of the difficulty of escaping the behavior. Cyberbullying can happen at any time, day or night, the behaviors can be committed anonymously and it can be distributed widely and quickly. Additionally, deleting the messages, pic tures, videos and texts is extremely difficult once they have been distributed. Youth involved in cyberbullying experience a host of negative health and academic concerns They are more likely to experience in person bullying ( Ybarra, Diener West, & Leaf 2007 ; Ybarra & Mitchell, 2007 ) skip school or create excuses to stay home from

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117 school (Katzer, Fetchenhauer, & Belschak, 2009) earn poor grades (Beran & Li, 2007) suffer from low self esteem and high levels of depression (Ybarra, Mitchell, Wolak, & Fi nkelhor, 2006) and entertain suicidal thoughts and attempts (Hinduja & Patchin, 2010; van der Wal, de Wit, & Hirasing, 2003) Stueve and Coulter (2012) confirmed that youth victims of cyberbullying, as compared t o victims of traditional forms of bullying, were more likely to suffer from depressive symptoms, experience suicidal ideation, and self inflict injury. Additionally, victims of cyberbullying were more than twice as likely to have reported attempting suici de, when compared to victims of traditional forms of bullying Coulter, 2012) With suicide ranking as the secon d leading cause of death among young people 1 5 to 24 years old in the U.S. (Hoyert & Xu, 2012) and because of t he well established link between cyberbullying and suicide, this form of victimization is a key issue for th os e concerned with the health and well being of our youth population. Summary and Discussion Cyberbullying and Moral Disengagement My study examin ed the relationship between the processes of moral disengagement and cyberbullying during their last semester of high school. The Student Experiences with Electronic Media and Perceptions of Cyberbullying Behaviors survey instrumen t was developed specifically for my study to determine the relationship between perceived acceptability of cyberbullying, and level of perceived seriousness for cyberbullying as related to the processes of moral disengagement (MD) The theory of MD focus es on the sociocognitive process through which an ordinary person can commit a harmful act against someone, when the act is normally considered by that person to be immoral or unethical (Bandura, 1991 ). Among

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118 youth who bully others (and those who particip ate as a bystander), the ability to engage in harmful acts of victimization depends on the ability of the bully to selectively activate and disengage his/her personal moral controls. Normally, internal moral controls elicit feelings of guilt or shame duri ng the self regulatory process behavior in line with personal standards. However, during four points in the self regulatory process (Bandura, 1999) internal moral control can be turned off, leading to harmful or damaging behaviors The four self regulatory processes of moral disengagement include (a) cognitive restructuring (b) minimiz (c) disregarding/d istortin g the ne gative impact of harmful behavior or (d) blaming and dehumanizing the victim To date, only two published studies h ave examined the relationship between cyberbullying and the theory of MD. In one of the studies, Pornari and Wood (2010) reported a relationship between the variables However, the other study by P erren and Gutzwiller Helfenfi nger (2012) did not find significant evidence to document a relationship between cyberbullying and MD Despite the conflicting results reported in past research studie s, it was hypothesized results from my study would report a relationship between the the ory of MD and reported levels of agreement regard ing acceptability o f, seriousness related to, and justification for cyberbullying, cyberbullying behaviors, and/or cyberbullying in relation to victim characteristics. This hypothesis was pr edicted based on past bullying research, which consistently displayed a relationship between peer victimization and MD. Y outh involved in cyberbullying are also reportedly more likely to be involved in traditional forms of bullying (Raskauskas & Stoltz, 2 007). Additionally, Perren and Gutzwiller Helfenfinger (2012) suggested that

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119 youth involved in cyberbullying have lower levels of morality than youth involved in traditional bullying because of findings published by Gradinger, Strohmeir, and Spiel (2009), which reported more severe patterns of maladjustment among youth involved with cyberbullying. Thus, it was hypothesized that my study, the first of its kind, would report a relationship between cyberbullying and MD. As predicted, the processes of MD rel perceptions of cyberbullying during the final semester of high school. More specifically, my findings show ed that scored higher levels of acceptability for cyberbullying, who scored lower levels of seriousness related to cyberbullying, and who we re more likely to justify cyberbullying behaviors we re also more likely to cognitively rationalize cyberbullying in order to make such behaviors seem less harmful. However, the relationship between the pr ocesses of MD varied with each dependent variable. The next section provides a detailed description of the results for each research question and an explanation fo r the relationships between dependent variables and the processes of MD. Additionally, int eresting and significant t rends among the MD scales are presented. Acceptability for cyberbullying and cyberbullying behaviors Overall, 54.6% of participants said cyberbullying was never okay; however 45.4% sai d this behavior is acceptable at times report ing that it was rarely, sometimes, usually, or always okay to pick on a classmate using electronic media. Among these respondents, MD1 (cognitive restructuring) and MD4 (blaming and dehumanizing the victim) predict ed b erbully ing behaviors. Thus, students w ho reported greater agreement with the cognitive restructuring and

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120 blaming/dehumanizing the victim processes of moral disengagement were also more likely to report higher levels of acceptability at any level, for cyberbully ing (Table 5 1) reported levels of acceptability for specific cyberbullying behaviors, MD1 (cognitive restructuring) was a predictor for all behaviors Thus, students w ho reported greater agreement with the cognitive restructuring process of moral disengagement were also more likely to report any level of acceptability (rarely okay to always okay) for each of the cyberbullying behavior s. Additionally, MD 3 ( distortion of negative consequences ) and M D4 (blaming and dehumanizing the victim) were predictors of a few of the cy b erbullying behaviors Specifically, students who reported any level of acceptability for posting mean or hurtful comments about someone online, as well as sending mean or hurtful comments about someone through a cell phone text message, were more likely to engage in the blaming / dehumanizing the victim and cognitive restructuring process es of moral disengagement to justify the behaviors And, students wh o reported any level of acceptability for posting a mean or hurtful video online of someone were more likely to engage in the distortion of negative consequences and cognitive restructuring process es of moral disengagement to justify the behaviors Upon closer examination of the students self reported levels of acceptability for each cyberbullying behavior (Table 5 2) the following behaviors had higher scores, indicating the behaviors were reported as more acceptable, at any level ( rarely okay to always okay): posting mean or hurtful comments about someone online (32.1%), spreading rumors about someone online (22.7%) sending mean or hurtful comments about someone through a cell phone text message (37.0%), and sending a mean or

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121 hurtful pi cture of someone through a cell phone text message (21.9%). Note that any response other than "never okay indicates that students believe the action is acceptable, at some level Thus, these four responses were collapsed to report specific cyberbullying behaviors. Conversely, the largest percentages of students reported the following behaviors were never okay : posting a mean or hurtful video online of someone (85.3%), creating a mean or hurtful web page about someone (90.5%), preten ding to be someone else online and acting in a way that was mean or hurtful to them (86.9%), and threatening to hurt someone th rough electronic media (88.4%). reported level of agreement for each cyberbullying behavior, the data provided evidence to support a relationship between about whether a cyberbullying behavior is acceptable. Thus, under certain circumstances, a student ma y use the process of cognitive restructuring to justify an otherwise wrongful and/or unethical behavior as acceptable. And, for some cyberbullying behaviors, students may also engage in the processes of blaming or dehumanizing the victim and distortion of negative consequences to justify the behaviors These findings provide important considerations for prevention campaigns and intervention techniques. Seriousness for cyberbullying behaviors reported levels of serious ness for all cyberbullying behaviors, and the processes of moral disengagement revealed that MD1 (cognitive restructuring) and MD3 (distortion of negative consequences) were both perceptions of seriousness o f cyberbullying behaviors S tudents

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122 w ho reported greater agreement with the cognitive restructuring and distortion of negative consequences processes of moral disengagement were also more likely to report low er levels of seriousness ( never serious to usually serious ) for each of the cyberbullying behaviors When examining the relationship among reported levels of ho reported greater agreement with MD1 ( cognitive restructuring ) were also more likely to report low er levels of seriousness ( never serious to usually serious ) for the following cyberbullying behaviors : posting mean or hurtful comments about someone online, posting a mean or hurtful picture of someone online posting a mean or hurtful video of someone online sending mean or hurtful commen ts about someone through a cell phone text message, and sending a mean or hurtful video of someone thro ugh a cell phone text message. who reported greater agreement with MD1 (cognitive restructuring) and MD3 (distortion of negative consequences) were more likely to report low er levels of seriousness, at any level, for the following cyberbullying behaviors : creating a mean or hurtful web page about someone, spreading rumors about someone online, and sending a mean or hurtful picture of someone through a cell phone text message. However, students who reported greater agreement solely with MD3 (distortion of negative consequences) were more likely to report low er levels of seriousness, at a ny level, for the following cyberbullying behaviors : pretending to be someone else online and acting in a way that was mean or hurtful to them, and threatening to hurt someone through electronic media.

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123 When examining frequency data for the level of serio usness associated with each cyberbullying behavior, several interesting trends were found (Table 5 3) S reported lower levels of seriousness for the following cyberbullying behavior s, which indicat es the behaviors were reported as less serious a t any level ( never serious to usually serious ): posting mean or hurtful comments about someone online (66.9%), posting a mean or hurtful picture of someone online (53.1%), spreading rumors about someone online (57.4%), sending mean or hurtful comments abou t someone through a cell phone text message (60.5%), and sending a mean or hurtful picture of someone through a cell phone text message (52.4%). Note that any response other than "always serious" indicates that students believe the action is not serious, to some degree. Thus, specific cyberbullying behaviors Conversely, students reported the highest levels of seriousness (always serious) for the following behaviors: creati ng a mean or hurtful web page about someone (60.6%), and threatening to hurt someone through electronic media (66.4%). cyberbullying acceptability. While findings for individual cyberbullying behaviors shared similar trends regarding acceptability and seriousness (i.e., the behaviors scored as least acceptable were also score d as most serious), the degree to which the students scored the behaviors as acceptable and serious varied Upon comparison of th ese A lthough the same students reported cyberbullying behaviors as serious, the levels of seriousness were reported at a lower degree, as com pared to their levels of

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124 acceptability for cyberbullying behavior. That is, although students report cyberbullying behaviors as unacceptable, their reports of the seriousness associated with the behaviors did not match their perceptions of acceptability. This finding is significant, and is consistent with claims made by some researchers that young people consider cyberbullying less severe a behavior with fewer serious consequences, than traditional forms of bullying. Without a doubt, this assumption mus t be addressed among young people, as the seriousness of cyberbullying behaviors is supported by the harmful, and in some cases deadly effects of this form of peer victimization. Additionally, the level of seriousness we associate with a behavior influenc es our decision to stop and report the questionable behavior. While it is important for young people to fin d cyberbullying behaviors unacceptable, it is equally important that they perceive cyberbullying behaviors as serious. Acceptability for cyberbullyi ng based on victim characteristics reported levels of acceptability for cyberbullying based on victim characteristics, and the processes of moral disengagement revealed that MD1 (cognitive restructuring), MD3 (distortion of negative consequences), and MD4 (blaming/dehumanizing the victim) were all predictors of of cyberbullying based on victim characteristics. Thus, students w ho reported greater agreement with the cognitive restructuring, distorti on of negative consequences and blaming/dehumanizing the victim processes of moral disengagement were also more likely to report higher levels of acceptability, at any level, for cyberbullying based on certain victim characteristics. When examining the r reported levels of acceptability for cyberbullying based on victim characteristics, MD3 (distortion of negative consequences) w as a

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125 cyberbullying based on the following victim char acteristics: physical disability and learning disability. Interestingly, students engaged in both MD3 (distortion of negative consequences) and MD4 ( blaming/dehumanizing the victim ) scored greater levels of acceptability, at any level, for cyberbullying b ased on religious beliefs. Furthermore, students w ho reported greater agreement with MD1 (cognitive restructuring), MD3 (distortion of negative consequences) and MD4 ( blaming/dehumanizing the victim) scored greater levels of acceptability, at any level, f or cyberbullying based on the following victim characteristics: ; and accent, or how one talks. Additionally, MD1 (cognitive restructuring) and MD4 ( blaming/dehumanizing the victim) scored greater levels of acceptability, at any level for cyberbullying based on the following victim characteristics : body size or features, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, style of dress or clothes, and popularity level. When examining frequency data for the level of acceptability associated with cy berbullying based on victim characteristics, several interesting trends were found (Table 5 4) S high er levels of acceptability, at any level (rarely okay to always okay) for cyberbullying b ased on the following victim characteristics : ac cent, or how one talks (37.3%), style of dress or clothes (41.8%), and popularity level (34.1%). Note that any response other than "never okay" indicates that students believe the action is acceptable, to some degree. Thus, these four responses were coll apsed to ased on victim characteristics Conversely, students reported the lowest level of acceptability (never acceptable) for physical disability

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126 (94.2%), and learning disability (93.1%). This provides an interesting glimpse into how students rank victim characteristics regarding whether it is acceptable to engage in cyberbullying More re search is needed to further explore victim characteristics and cyberbullying prevalence. These data are critically important and should be addressed during any cyberbullying prevention efforts. Seri ousness for cyberbullying based on victim characteristics reported levels of seriousness for cyberbullying based on victim characteristics, and the processes of moral disengagement revealed that MD1 (cognitive restructur ing) and MD3 (distortion of perceptions of seriousness for cyberbullying behaviors based on victim characteristics. S tudents w ho reported greater agreement with the cognitive restructuring and disto rtion of negative consequences processes of moral disengagement were also more likely to report lower levels of seriousness (never serious to usually serious) for cyberbullying based on victim characteristics. When examining the relationship between stud reported levels of seriousness for cyberbullying based on victim characteristics, greater agreement with MD 3 ( distortion of negative consequences ) were also more likely to report lower levels of seriousness (never serious to usually serious) for the following disability and learning disability. agreement with MD1 (cognitive restructuring) and MD3 (disto rtion of negative consequences) were more likely to report lower levels of seriousness, at any level, for the following victim characteristics: religious beliefs, race/ethnicity, accent or how one

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127 talks, and style of dress or clothes. However, ho reported greater agreement with MD1 (cognitive restructuring) only were more likely to report lower levels of seriousness, at any level, for the following victim characteristics: body size or features, and popularity level. When examining frequency da ta for the level of seriousness associated with cyberbullying based on victim characteristics, several interesting trends were found (Table 5 5) victim characteristics which indicates th at they were reported as less serious, at any level (never serious to usually serious): accent or how one talks (64.1%), style of dress or clothes (63.9%), and popularity level (61.7%) Note that any response other than always serious indicates that stude nts believe the action is not serious to some seriousness for cyberbullying based on victim characteristics. Conversely, students reported the highest levels of seriousness (always serious) for the following victim characteristics: physical disability (67.5%), and learning disability (65.9%). When comparing these findings to those regarding the acceptability of, and level of seriousness regarding cyberbullying behaviors, simi lar dis crepancies were found among victim characteristics data. While findings for individual victim characteristics shared similar trends regarding acceptability and seriousness (i.e., the characteristic s scored as least acceptable were also score d as mo st serious), the degree to which the students scored the victim characteristic s as acceptable and serious varied. Upon comparison of th ese data, it is clear that students acceptable based on certain victim characteristic s T he same students reported cyberbullying based on

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128 certain victim characteristics to be serious, however, the levels of seriousness were reported to a smaller degree, as compared to the reported levels of acceptability for the same victim characteristic s In other words, students reported cyberbullying b ased on victim characteristics to be more un acceptable than serious. As previously discussed, this finding is significant, and seems consistent with claims made by some researchers that young peop le co nsider cyberbullying less severe a be havior, carry ing less serious consequences than traditional forms of bullying. More seriousness a ssociated with cyberbullying based on victim characteristics and type of cyberbullying behavior. If such an assumption exists amon g young people, then intervention efforts must be developed to address these dangerous thought processes. S eriousness associated with cyberbullying based on victi m characteristics contributes to perception of whether an action is serious also influences our decision to stop and report the questionable behavior. While it is impor tant for young people to find cyberbullying based on victim characteristics to be unacceptable, it is equally important that they perceive the rationale behind the behavior as serious. Justification for c yberbullying re ported justifiability of their cyberbullying behavior and the processes of moral disengagement revealed that MD1 (cognitive restructuring), and MD4 (blaming/dehumanizing the victim) were both predictors of victim characteristics. Thus, students w ho reported greater agreement with cognitive restructuring and blaming/dehumanizing the victim also reported higher levels of justification for their cyberbullying behavior.

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129 When examining frequency data for stud reported justifiability for cyberbullying behavior, several interesting trends were found (Table 5 6) First, 72.4% of participants claimed to never have picked on a classmate using electronic media. A n additional 10.3% reported that they had cyberbullied a peer, yet they believed the behavior was never justifiable. However, the remaining 17.3% of participants who had cyberbullied a peer, claimed their behavior w as justifiable at some level (rarely to always justifiable). Th ese data provide important consideration for information included in interventions. Specifically, it is evident, based on the findings from my study, that the repercussions associated with cyberbullying a peer must be addressed. The information discussed with young peopl e should represent two perspectives: (1) discipline and legal repercussions related to the offender ; and (2) harmful effects experience d by the victim. All repercussions represent detrimental effects of peer victimization, a preventable public health issu e that is neither acceptable nor justifiable. This must be appropriately and empathically communicated to the youth population in order to effectively stop and prevent cyberbullying. General Findings from the MD Scales C lose examination of the four MD sc ores uncovered a host of interesting findings For MD1 ( cognitive restructuring ) students reported the strongest agreement ( selected agree or strongly agree ) with the notion that being picked on is a normal part of life (22.5%) ; being picked on using electronic media is not a big deal (10.7%) ; and that it is okay to send or forward a message, photo or video that picks on a classmate if that person (10.7%). A cross all cognitive restructuring sub questions, most participants disagreed ( selected dis agree or strongly dis agree) with the corresponding scenarios. In fact, the rates of disagreement across all six sub questions ranged from

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130 60.5 to 87.7%. However, scenarios displaying the highest level of agreement were interesting, and provid e important considerations for future research concentrated on cyberbullying and the theory of MD (Table 5 7) For MD 2 minimizing agency students reported the strongest agreement ( selected agree or strongly agree ) regarding the following: w hen I saw or heard about a classmate being cyberbullied, I did not feel it was my responsibility to stop it (23.2%); and, w hen I received and/or viewed a message/photo/video that picked on a classmate, I did not feel it was my responsibility to stop it (22.7%) Whi le the level of disagreement regarding these two scenarios was calculated at 42.3 and 49.1%, respectively, most interesting is that the neutral response calculations were 34.5 and 28.2%, respectively. Thus, the agreement, disagreement, and neutral options were split nearly evenly among participants. While these data may suggest an issue in the wording of sub questions (both questions were worded in a negative manner), these data could also suggest that nearly one third of participants could not decide whe ther they agreed or disagreed with the scenarios related to minimizing agency Clearly more research is needed to determine how the minimizing agency process of MD interacts with high school ors. And, perhaps the neutral response option should be eliminated to better determine how high school students are influenced by the minimizing agency process of MD (Table 5 8) The MD3 score th the distortion of negative consequences. Overwhelmingly, most partic ipants disagreed (selected dis agree or strongly dis agree ) with the corresponding scenarios. In fact, the rates of disagreement across all six sub questions ranged from 78.7 to 93.4%.

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131 However, findings related to the sub question exploring wh ether participants believe picking on a classmate makes them a tougher person provide interesting considerations for future research. While most respondents disagreed with the scenario (78.7%), 9. 5% reported agreement with this scenario, and 11.8% res ponded that they neither agreed nor disagreed with the scenario. Again, while most respondents di s agree d with this scenario, 21.3% did not disagree with the statement. Because this statement certainl y should not be supported by students, parents, or school officials, it i s important to find out why one fifth of the participants did not disagree with the notion that picking on a classmate helps make them a tougher person (Table 5 9). For MD 4 blaming/d ehumanizing the victim students reported the strongest agreement ( agree or strongly agree ) with the following scenarios: high school students get picked on because they are different or weird ( 65.5%); h igh school students get picked on becaus e they pick on others ( 38.0%); and it is acceptable to pick on classmates who pick on others (1 9 8 %). Conversely, most partic ipants di s agree d (selected dis agree or strongly dis agree) with the remaining three scenarios: h igh school students get picked on because they deserve it (78.7%); it is acceptable to pick on classmates who are different or weird (93.7%); and, it is acceptable to pick on classmates who deserve it (74.8%). Thus, while participants agree that high school students are picked on because they are different or weird, they do not find this uniqueness to be an acceptable reason to pick on the students, nor do they feel that it is acceptable to pick on a classmate, regardless of whether they deserve it. These findings shed light on the reason s why young people are picked on, which in turn

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132 provides an important focus for prevention curricula in the fight against cyberbullying (Table 5 10). By and large, most participants di s agree d (selected dis agree or strongly dis agree) with scenarios or sub questions corresponding to all four processes of MD. However, the scenarios displaying the highest level of agreement as well as the scenarios with high levels of uncertainty (neither agree, nor disagree) indicate interesting findings, and provide import ant considerations for future research concentrated on cyberbullying and the theory of MD Another interesting finding related to the mean scores for the four MD scales related to significant differences concerning gender (Table 5 11). Statistical signifi cance was found between male and female scores for MD1 (p=.002), MD2 (p=.000), MD3 (p=.000), and MD4 (p=.000). Overall, the male scores averaged 2 points higher than female scores across all four MD scales. The greatest difference between male and female scores occurred for MD3, distortion of negative consequences. Male scores averaged 2.69 points higher than female scores (p=.000) Interestingly, the female score for MD3 represented the lowest average score for females across all four MD scales. Thus, males were more likely to ignore or dismiss the negative consequences associated with cyberbullying behaviors, while females were less likely to dismiss the negative consequences associated with cyberbullying. The highest scores for both male and female participants were reported for MD4, blaming/dehumanizing the victim. Thus, both males and females were more likely to blame or dehumanize the victim in an attempt to justify a cyberbullying behavior. Among sub questions in the MD4 scale, participants re ported the strongest agreement

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133 (agree or strongly agree) for the following statements: high school students get picked on because they are different or weird (65.5%); high school students get picked on because they pick on others (38%); and, it is accepta ble to pick on classmates who pick on others (19.8%). Clearly, these findings provide support for future research looking to explore relationships among cyberbullying, gender, and the theory of moral disengagement. Additionally, these findings provide im portant considerations for prevention efforts directed at cyberbullying. Prevalence of C yberbullying Also included with my prevalence rates for cyberbullying among participants during their last semester of high school (Table 5 12) The questions were borrowed and adapted with permission from Hinduja and Patchin (2010). Results from my study indicated higher rates of cyberbullying than those reporte d by Hinduja and Patchin in their 2010 study examin ing c yberbullying prevalence rates among a large sample of 10 to 18 year olds from a large school district in the southern U.S According to Hinduja and Patchin (2010), 7.5% of survey respondents reported having been cyberbullied during the 30 days preceding the survey and 8.6% of survey respondents reported having cyberbullied others during the 30 days preceding the survey In contrast data from my study indicated that 23.2% of participants reported being cyberbullied during their last semester of high sch ool whereas 18.8% reported cyberbullying a peer during their last semester of high school Although rates reported in my survey are higher than those reported in Hinduja study it is important t o discuss three key differences that l ikely contributed to the prevalence rate differences. First, data reported by Hinduja and

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134 Patchin (2010) w ere collected three years earlier I t is plausible that the increase d percentage of participants who were cyberbullied during their last semester of high school was due in part to the difference in time taken betwee n the surveys. It is realistic to assume that students have greater access to various forms of electronic media in 2013, as compared to youth in 2010. And, the literature indicate s that a s access to electronic media increases, so too does cyberbullying ( Smith & Slonje 2010 ). Additionally, the time frame in which participants reported cyberbullying involvement in the study by Hinduja and Patchin (2010) was 30 days; wher eas the time frame for my study was the students last semester of high school, or roughly 6 months. Widening the time frame in which respondents report cyberbullying involvement, increases the likelihood that prevalence rates will go up. Lastly, the age of participants v aried significantly I n the study by Hinduja and Patchin (2010) p ranged from 10 to 18 years old. In my study, 97.5% of the participants self reported as 18 years old, while the other 2.5% self reported as 19 or 20 years old. The liter ature clearly identifies an increase in cyberbullying involvement with age ( Smith et al., 2008 ) Although prevalence rates for cyberbullying involvement varied between the two studies, the factors described above provide alternate explanations for the high er rates in my study. However, when examining the data from Hinduja and Patchin (2010) 20.8% of survey respondents reported ever having been cyberbullied in their lifetime, and 19.4%.reported ever having cyberbullied a peer in their lifetime. These numb ers are more comparable to my and may serve as a better indicator for how often young people are involved in cyberbullying, as both bully and victim.

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135 Cyberbullying O bservers Another important fi nding emerg ed from my dition to inquiring were added to investigate the Hinduja and Patchin (2010) did not collect th ese data in their previous cyberbullying studies, alt hough during communication with these authors regarding the use of questions from their instrument, they supported and encouraged adding questions regardin g cyberbullying observers. My indicat having see n a peer being cyberbullied during their last semester of high school. More specifically, 13.5% reported seeing it once 43.8% reported seeing it a few times, 14.3% reported seeing it several times, and 10.7% reported seeing it many times. Th ese data sup port the need to involve observers, also referred to as bystanders, in the fight against cyberbullying. Young people are more likely to see or hear about peer victimization, as compared to teachers, school administration, and even parents. In fact, in a research report by the National Crime Prevention Council (2007), cyberbullied teens reported that they were twice as likely to talk to a friend about the victimization as they were to talk to their parents or another adult. By educating young people about cyberbullying ; its harmful effects ; and how to prevent, stop and report this type of victimization ; we have the potential to make an enormous impact reducing the prevalence of cyber bullying, and lessening the harmful effects associated with this form of p eer violence. Implications As previously mentioned, r esearch on cyberbullying is limited because of the relative newness of this phenomenon Although research has expanded during the past 5 years, because technology advancements and youth technology usag e changes

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136 rapidly, it is difficult to design surveys that accurately capture trends My confirm ed that cyberbullying is a real issue among high school students, reported a high degree of involvement in cyberbullying as per petrator, victim, and observer. Additionally, my study revealed a relationship between the processes of s of cyberbullying, including individual cyberbullying behaviors and cyberbullying based on cha racteristics belonging to the victim. As a result o f my work in this field emerged. These important findings are discussed in reference to implications for researchers, health educators, and schoo l practitioners. Implications for Research In his critical review and synthesis of research on cyberbullying, Tokunaga (2010) stressed the importance for future research focused on cyberbullying to incorporate theory. More specifically, Tokunaga (2010) h ighlighted the pivotal role theory could play behaviors and (p. 286) Past research on cyberbullying lacked the theoretical framework component, and the f ew studies that did incorporate theory, such as moral disengagement, reported inconclusive or conflicting findings My study was developed in an attempt to incorporate a theoretical framework with cyberbullying, and to build upon past research. While t he research findings from my study, when published, will add to existing literature t he existing research will remain small and limited. Therefore, for progress to be made in the fight against cyberbullying, more theoretical research must be conducted. M y study reported a significant relationship between the processes of MD and Additionally, my study supports the value of

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137 the Student Experiences with Electronic Media and Perceptions of Cyberbullying Behaviors s urvey instrument developed to exam ine the relationship between cyber bullying and the processes of MD Based on the findings from my study, f urther research is warranted and the instrument seems valuable in exploring the relationship between cyber bullyin g and the processes of MD. Pornari and Wood (2010) also found significant relationships between cyberbullying and moral disengagement; however, in a study investigating whether moral disengagement predicted cyberbullying behavior, Perren and Gutzwiller Hel fenfinger did not report significant findings. I nconsistencies reported between the se studies are likely related to different forms of measure ment Certainly the relationship between the processes of moral disengagement and cyberbullying needs further ex ploration More importantly, replication of published research studies and/or the evalu ation of existing measurements to further explore the relationship between cyberbullying and moral disengagement will critical ly add to the existing body of literature. R esults of continued research will, therefore, inform cyberbullying prevention and intervention efforts. Implications for Health Educators s to determine how to use the data to address this youth victimization issue. More specifically, health educators are charged with the task of develop ing implement ing and evaluating interventions designed to target cyberbullying among a specific populat ion. Additionally, the increasing prevalence rate, the harmful effects, and the negative impact in the school setting are more than enough evidence to suggest that this emerging public health issue must be addressed. As is the case with

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138 any new public he alth issue, little is known regarding successful intervention efforts, as cyberbullying researc h is still in the infancy stage Nevertheless, health educators must use existing research to develop prevention programs to address this dangerous form of yout h aggression And, because youth technology usage changes rapidly health educators must engage in formative research in order to make necessary adjustments to the intervention as needed. Although prevention programs specifically designed to address cyber bullying are lacking (David Ferdon & Feldman, 2007), findings from my study highlight moral disengagement as a significant contributing factor to the likelihood that a young person would find cyberbullying more acceptable and less serious. Likewise, Porna ri and Wood (2010) reported a relationship between cyberbullying and moral justification among adolescents. Additionally, Williams and Guerra (2007) highlighted moral approval of bullying as a significant factor contributing to the likelihood that an adol escent would cyberbully a peer. Clearly, all of these findings underscore the importance of incorporating what we have learned about moral disengagement and cyberbullying in the development of interventions specifically designed to address this form of pe er aggression. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, health educators must advocate for the importance of a coordinated effort to combat cyberbullying A solution to this public health issue does not solely rest o n the shoulders of researchers, school of ficials, parents, or even the students themselves. Rather, this public health issue requires the help of many to reinforce the message of intolerance toward cyberbullying and the involvement of multiple groups/people to target cyberbullying from all angl es. R esearch

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13 9 supporting a coordinated effort to combat traditional forms of bullying is well established. As the two forms of peer victimization share many similarities, and are connected to one another in many important ways, it is not surprising that p revention strategies for cyberbullying call for the same coordinated prevention efforts (Hertz & David Ferdon, 2008) Additionall y because new types of electronic media are always emerging, prevention efforts must be flexibly created in order to allow ad just ment as needed. David Ferdon and Feldman (2007) said it best when they highlighted the need Said preve ntion efforts create the opportunity for a positive impact in the fight against cyberbullying, while also allowing the opportunity for minor updates to the intervention in order to better address cyberbullying over time. Implications for School Officials I t has been said that they deal with it by default p. 1 ) Truer words were never spoken. The e health issues of young pe ople follow them to school, and can disrupt normal learning and socialization processes in numerous ways. Therefore, it is critically important for school officials to recognize the opportunity they have been inadvertently given and to strive to improve the health and wellbeing of their students. Although a strong research link between cyberbullying and schools has not been established, school systems are acknowledging their role in combatting this public health issue (David F erdon & Feldman, 2007). In a research report regarding the prevention of bullying in schools and colleges, the American Educational Research

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140 Association (AERA) detailed the importance for teacher preparation programs to place school safety education at th e core of professional preparation programs Specifically, the AERA (2013) identified teachers as an essential part of the solution to childhood bullying, and supported the notion that all educators be trained in bullying prevention during preservice and preparation programs for K 12 education, including continuing education programs. This recommendation further supported the need for teacher training to improve their ability to address this form of peer victimization (Bauman & Del Rio, 2006; Espelage, 20 04). Furthermore, Crothers and Kolbert (2010) said necessary that educators are empowered to play a pivotal role in solving the peer victimization problems that occur among children to ensure both their psychological and (p. 544). In a report published by Agatson et al. (2007), detailed findings from a series of focus groups conducted with multiple members of a school system revealed promising discussions about the scope of the cyberbullying issue as well as appropriate m essages and policies for students. Clearly, conversations such as the one described by Agatson et al. (2007) must continue, as they provide critically important directions for rtant (Agatson et al., 2007, S60). These conversations are pivotal and create a culture of intolerance toward cyberbullying and all types of peer victimization. Final Th oughts F indings reported from my study contribute to a deeper understanding of the nature of cyberbullying. Additionally, my study represent s an important first step in highlighting the cognitive processes youth undergo in an attempt to morally justify

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141 cy berbullying. While cognitive restructuring (MD1) proved to be a recurring crutch used by students to justif y cyberbullying, distortion of negative consequences (MD3) and blaming and dehumanizing the victim (MD4) were used by students as well. However, mi nimizing agency (MD2) was the only process of MD not significantly associated with The relationship between youth perceptions of cyberbullying and the processes of MD must receive more research attention if the data ca n inform intervention efforts. I ncredible potential exists for the findings from my study, and hopefully future research to positively impact the prevalence of cyberbullying, as well as the detrimental effects associated with this form of peer victimizati on. Because my study was the first of its kind, mo re research needs to concentrate on cyberbullying and the theory of MD By engaging in more research examin ing the link between cyberbullying and the theory of MD the potential to explain the process es by which an individual morally disengages from what is normally considered harmful behavior in order to intentionally cause harm to another person using electronic media is greatly enhanced. An increased understanding about this area of cyberbullying resear ch can inform existing intervention and prevention efforts, and can influence future school initiatives to combat cyber victimization. Fi ndings from my study along with th os e re ported by Pornari and Wood (2010) provide evidence that young people engage i n the processes of MD to justify cyberbullying behaviors. Therefore, it is of great importance that these cognitive rationalizations are addressed and addressed early during the school aged years In agreement with Pornari and Wood (2010), it is s ugges t ed that school intervention programs should help students identify and alter any dysfunctional and maladaptive thinking styles related to harmful behavior in

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142 objective nature of h armful behavior, acknowledge responsibility for their acts, realize the direct connection between their own behavior and the negative outcomes of this behavior to others and themselves, and resolution. They should f ocus on enhancing especially guilt (for doing something harmful to others), and pride (for behaving prosocially). Moral emotions and cognitions are not independent from one another (pp. 91 92) Finally, t he high prevalence of cyberbullying r eported from my study identifies the need for greater attention to cyberbullying among high school students. M ore than 8 of 10 survey semes ter of high school R esearchers, health educators, and school officials need to determine how to in volve observers, or bystanders, in the fight against cyberbullying. My study confirms that y oung people are more likely to know about cyber victimization, as compared to teachers, school administration and even parents ; either through direct observation or by hearing from the victim ( National Crime Prevention Council 2007). By educating y oung people about cyberbullying; its harmful effects; and how to pre vent, stop and report this type of victimization ; we have the potential to make an enormous impact in both reducing the prevalence of cyberbullying and lessening the harmful effects associated with this form of peer violence.

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143 Table 5 1 Acceptability o f cyberbullying Frequency Percent Never okay 212 54.6 Rarely okay 116 29.9 Sometimes okay 43 11.1 Usually okay 13 3.4 Always okay 4 1.0 Table 5 2. A cceptability and cyberbullying behavior s (percentage) Comments online Pictures online Video onli ne Hurtful web page Rumors online Pretending to be someone else online Comments via text Pictures via text Video via text Threatening using electronic media Never okay 67.9 82.0 85.3 90.5 77.3 86.9 63.0 78.1 81.5 88.4 Rarely okay 21.6 12.9 10.3 6.9 14.9 9.0 22.4 12.1 12.1 7.2 Sometimes okay 6.7 3.1 3.1 1.5 4.6 1.8 9.0 5.4 2.8 2.6 Usually okay 2.6 1.3 0.5 0.3 2.3 1.8 4.1 2.6 2.6 1.0 Always okay 1.3 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.5 1.5 1.8 1.0 0.8

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144 Table 5 3. S eriousness and cyberbullying behavior s (percent age) Comments online Pictures online Video online Hurtful web page Rumors online Pretending to be someone else online Comments via text Pictures via text Video via text Threatening using electronic media Always serious 33.1 46.9 53.4 60.6 42.6 56.9 39.5 47.6 51.8 66.4 Usually serious 24.9 24.1 21.9 18.8 21.0 19.2 20.3 22.1 19.5 14.6 Sometimes serious 26.4 16.2 12.4 8.5 20.0 11.3 21.8 14.7 14.1 8.7 Rarely serious 11.0 8.7 7.5 6.4 11.5 7.4 12.3 10.0 10.0 5.6 Never serious 4.6 4.1 4.9 5.7 4.9 5.1 6.2 5.7 4.6 4.6 Table 5 4 A cceptability and victim characteristics (percentage) Body size Sexual orientation Religious beliefs Race or Ethnicity Family income Accent Style of dress Physical disability Learning disability Popularity Never okay 72.2 79.9 80. 6 77.5 85.9 62.7 58.2 94.2 93.1 65.9 Rarely okay 16.4 10.1 13.0 11.1 10.1 20.9 22.6 3.4 4.2 17.7 Sometimes okay 7.1 6.3 4.2 6.9 2.4 10.8 12.8 1.1 1.3 8.5 Usually okay 3.2 2.6 1.3 3.2 0.8 4.0 4.0 0.0 0.0 5.8 Always okay 1.1 1.1 0.8 1.3 0.8 1.6 2.4 1.3 1 .3 2.1

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145 Table 5 5 S eriousness and victim characteristics (percentage) Body size Sexual orientation Religious beliefs Race or Ethnicity Family income Accent Style of dress Physical disability Learning disability Popularity Always serious 44.4 55.6 55 .3 53.8 53.7 35.9 36.1 67.5 65.9 38.3 Usually serious 16.7 16.9 16.1 16.4 17.2 19.9 19.1 11.4 13.5 16.0 Sometimes serious 19.8 10.8 11.1 12.7 9.5 16.2 19.4 7.1 6.3 18.1 Rarely serious 9.3 8.7 8.5 8.0 10.8 16.5 15.6 3.4 3.7 14.9 Never serious 9.8 7.9 9. 0 9.0 8.7 11.4 9.8 10.6 10.6 12.8 Table 5 6 Justification for cyberbullying Frequency Percent Never picked on a classmate 273 72.4 Never justifiable 39 10.3 Rarely justifiable 28 7.4 Sometimes justifiable 17 4.5 Usually justifiable 14 3.7 Alwa ys justifiable 6 1.6

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146 Table 5 7. MD1 cognitive restructuring frequency data (percentages) Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 7 1 Being picked on using electronic media is a normal part of life for high schoo l students. 24.1 36.4 17.0 18.4 4.1 7 2 Being picked on using electronic media is not a big deal. 46.2 33.0 10.2 9.3 1.4 7 3 It is okay to send or forward a message/photo/video that 59.7 26.3 10.1 2.7 1 .1 7 4 It is okay to send or forward a message/photo/video that 51.2 29.6 12.9 5.2 1.1 7 5 It is okay to send or forward a message/photo/video that 46.2 30.8 12.4 8.5 2.2 7 6 It is okay to send or forward a message/photo/video that picks on a classmate because you did not create or send the original message. 57.3 30.4 7.4 4.1 0.8 Table 5 8. MD2 minimizing agency frequency data (percentages) Stron gly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 8 1 When I saw or heard about a classmate being cyberbullied, I did not feel it was my responsibility to stop it. 16.1 26.2 34.4 20.2 3.0 8 2 When I received and/or viewed a message/ph oto/video that picked on a classmate, I did not feel it was my responsibility to stop it. 19.9 29.2 28.1 20.5 2.2 8 3 When I received and/or viewed a message/photo/video that picked on a classmate, I did not feel bad for forwarding the message to other cl assmates because I did not create or send the original message. 47.4 27.4 18.4 5.8 1.1 8 4 It is okay to pick on a classmate if your friends are doing it. 61.7 28.7 7.9 1.1 0.5 8 5 It is okay to pick on a classmate if your friends would get mad if you di 63.4 28.1 6.8 0.8 0.8

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147 Table 5 9. MD3 distortion of negative consequences frequency data (percentages) Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 9 1 Picking on a classmate helps to make them a tougher p erson. 47.4 31.0 11.8 8.8 0.8 9 2 Picking on a classmate helps to teach them a lesson. 54.0 30.7 11.2 3.0 1.1 9 3 Picking on a classmate helps to solve problems between students. 60.5 28.2 8.2 2.2 0.8 9 4 Picking on a classmate does not cause them any h arm. 69.6 23.0 5.2 1.4 0.8 9 5 Picking on a classmate does not create negative effects inside schools. 67.4 26.0 4.1 1.6 0.8 9 6 Picking on a classmate does not create negative effects outside schools. 66.3 27.1 4.1 1.4 1.1 Table 5 10. MD4 blaming or dehumanizing the victim frequency data (percentages) Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 10 1 High school students get picked on because they are different or weird. 10.9 10.7 12.8 47.5 18.0 10.2 High school stude nts get picked on because they deserve it. 50.8 27.9 14.5 6.0 0.8 10.3 High school students get picked on because they pick on others. 16.7 17.5 27.9 29.0 9.0 10.4 It is acceptable to pick on classmates who are different or weird. 65.3 28.4 4.4 1.4 0.5 10.5 It is acceptable to pick on classmates who deserve it. 47.9 26.8 16.2 6.8 2.2 10.6 It is acceptable to pick on classmates who pick on others. 31.5 24.7 24.1 14.0 5.8

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148 Table 5 11. Inferential statistics for the MD scales Males mean score Fema le mean score Standard Error t Significance MD1 cognitive restructuring 12.29 10.54 .558 3.15 .002 MD2 minimizing agency 11.31 9.48 .378 4.83 .000 MD3 distortion of consequences 11.13 8.44 .486 5.53 .000 MD4 dehumanizing the victim 15.37 13.21 .514 4 .20 .000 Table 5 12. C yberbullying among participants during their last semester of high school (percentages) Never Once A few times Several times Many times During my last semester in high school, I was cyberbullied 76.8 12.4 8.6 1.1 1.1 Du ring my last semester in high school, I saw other people being cyberbullied. 17.6 13.5 43.8 14.3 10.7 During my last semester in high school, I cyberbullied others. 81.2 10.2 7.8 0.3 0.6

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149 APPENDIX A COGNITIVE INTERVIEW CONSENT Cognitive Interviews: Student Experiences with Electronic Media and Perceptions of Cyberbullying Behaviors Please read this consent document carefully before you decide to participate in this study. Purpose of the research study: The scientific purpose of this study is to i nvestigate the relationship between student experiences with electronic media and personal perceptions of cyberbullying behaviors through a survey For this phase of the survey design the purpose is to collect feedback from a small group of participants t hrough cognitive interviews in order to determine if necessary revisions should be made to the survey prior to conducting the pilot study. What you will be asked to do in the study: If you agree to participate, you will be asked to respond to a 23 item (w ith multiple sub items) survey. The survey assesses demographic characteristics such as age, sex, and race/ethnicity as well as investigates the relationship between student experiences with electronic media and personal perceptions of cyberbullying behavi ors during their last semester of high school. You do not have to answer any question you do not wish to answer. You will not be penalized in The moderator will ask questions concerning your t hought processes while you are completing the survey. You will provide feedback regarding how well you understand the questions, as well as provide feedback regarding the appropriateness of the corresponding response options for each question. The modera tor will take notes while you provide feedback, and the cognitive interview will be audio recorded for accuracy. The tape will be kept in a secured location, transcribed before the end of the study, and then destroyed. Only the principal investigator and s elect members of the research team will have access to the tapes. Time required: 45 to 60 minutes (one time only). Risks: There are no anticipated risks for participating in this study. Benefits: You will not directly benefit from participating in thi s study. Compensation: Compensation is not provided for participation in this research. Confidentiality: Your name will never be used in any report or other materials associated with this project. Your responses will be kept confidential by all those

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150 a ssociated with this research project. Additionally, the audio recording will be destroyed after analyzed. Voluntary participation: Your participation in this cognitive interview is completely voluntary. You have the right to withdraw from the study at anytime without consequence. You do not have to answer any question(s) you do not wish to answer. Whom to contact if you have questions about the study: Principal Investigator: Holly T. Moses, Doctoral Candidate School of Teaching and Learning, PO Box 118210, FLG 5 hmoses@hhp.ufl.edu 352 294 1804 Faculty Supervisor: Dorene D. Ross, Ed.D., Professor School of Teaching and Learning, PO Box 117048, 2215D Norman Hall dro ss@coe.ufl.edu 352 273 4206 Whom to contact about your rights as a research participant in the study: IRB02 Office, Box 112250, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611 2250; phone 392 0433. Agreement: I have read the procedure described above an d voluntarily agree to participate in the cognitive interview process. Additionally, I acknowledge having received a consent for participating in this study. Date: ____________ _____________________________

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151 APPENDIX B COGNITIVE INTERVIEW GUIDE Step 1: Review the informed consent with the participant and answer any questions that they might have about the cognitive interview, study purpose, etc. Step 2: Collect the signed informed consent, and provide a clean copy of the informed consent to the participant. Moderator script: Thank you for agreeing to participate in this cognitive interview, and for providing feedback regarding the survey. The purpose of the cognitive int erview is to allow me to understand what you think about this survey. Ultimately, I want to find out if this survey, in its current format, will provide information about student experiences with electronic media and cyberbullying, as intended. Direction s: You will be given a printed copy of the survey, Student Experiences with Electronic Media and Perceptions of Cyberbullying Behaviors You are expected to complete the survey as a study participant by reading each question and responding to the best of your ability. Although I am not particularly interested in your actual responses to the survey questions, it is important that you respond truthfully so that I can understand your experience related to responding to the survey. If you feel confused abou t an item, or items on the survey, please share your thoughts immediately (i.e., as soon as a thought occurs to you while responding to the survey). process as a survey res pondent. Also, if you come across a questionable word, a question or response option that seems confusing, or if an entire survey question feels difficult to answer, please stop and tell me this immediately. Additionally, as you complete one page of t he survey (and before you continue to the next page), I will likely ask you probing questions to explore your thoughts regarding how you reacted to the questions, how you interpreted the questions, and how you felt about the possible response options for e ach question. The purpose of the probing questions is to determine if the survey questions are consistently understood and interpreted the same by all respondents. Sample probing questions include: Are there any words in this question that are unclear (I may ask about specific words in the question)? What do you think the question is asking? If a question is confusing, what about the question seems confusing to you, or what makes this question difficult to answer? Does the design of the response option s affect the way you decide to answer? If so, how? Why did you choose the response option selected? Is it difficult to respond to a question based on the period of time in question? Does the question make you uncomfortable? If so, why?

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152 Do you think your p eers will give an honest answer to a question like this? Why or why not?

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153 APPENDIX C STUDENT EMAIL CONTAC T : COGNITIVE INTERVIE W Subject: Exciting Research Opportunity!! Students, Are you interested in research? Would you like the opportunity to contribute to a University of Florida research study? Now is your chance! Holly Moses, UF doctoral candidate is looking for 7 to 10 UF freshmen to participate in cognitive int erviews related to her dissertation research. Specifically, Holly wants feedback from UF freshmen regarding the survey created for her doctoral research. If you are interested in serving as a research participant, please send an email to Holly Moses ( hmoses@hhp.ufl.edu ) today! Additionally, for more information about this research opportunity, please see below information, or email hmoses@hhp.ufl.edu I hop e you will take advantage of this awesome research opportunity! RESEARCH OPPORTUNITY DETAILS WHO: UF freshmen, defined as a UF student who earned a high school diploma in 2012, and who was admitted to UF for the Summer B 2012 or Fall 2012 term. W HAT: Participate in a cognitive interview (45 to 60 minutes) to share your thoughts For more information about this study, befor e each cognitive interview session. Only one student will participate in a cognitive interview per time block. Note: This research was approved by the UF IRB: #U 320 2013. WHEN: Select a 90 minute time block between 8:30am and 6:30pm on Tuesday, March 1 9 or Friday, March 22. The researcher will schedule each cognitive interview time block for 90 minutes; however, the approximate time for each cognitive interview is 45 to 60 minutes. All cognitive interviews will take place on campus and in the Florida Gym building. WHY: interviews in order to determine if survey revisions are necessary. Sample questions asked during the cognitive interview include: Are the questions clearl y written? Do the questions make sense to you? What is the question asking? HOW: Sign up TODAY by sending an email to Holly Moses ( hmoses@hhp.ufl.edu ) to schedule your cognitive interview!

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154 APPENDIX D PILOT SURVEY CONSENT Purpose of the research study: The scientific purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship be tween student experiences with electronic media and personal perceptions of cyberbullying behaviors through a survey What you will be asked to do in the study: If you agree to participate, you will be asked to respond to a 23 item (with multiple sub it ems) survey. The survey assesses demographic characteristics such as age, sex, and race/ethnicity as well as investigates the relationship between student experiences with electronic media and personal perceptions of cyberbullying behaviors during their la st semester of high school. You do not have to answer any question you do not wish to answer. Time required: 15 minutes (one time only). Risks: There are no anticipated risks for participating in this study. Limits of Online Data Security: There is a minimal risk that security of any online data may be breached. However, Qualtrics (the online survey platform in which this survey will be run through) utilizes several layers of encryption and firewalls to eliminate the risk of an information breach, an d your data will be removed from the server soon after you complete the survey. It is unlikely that a security breach of the online data will security policy statement, plea se visit http://www.qualtrics.com/security statement Benefits: You will not directly benefit from participating in this study. Compensation: Compensation is not provided for participation in this research. Confidentiality: This survey is anonymous. This means you will not be asked to provide any information that can identify you. There is no way to connect you to your responses. Your email or IP address will not be collected for any reason. Voluntary participation: Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. You have the right to withdraw from the study at any time without consequence. You do not have to answer any question you do not wish to answer. Whom to contact if you ha ve questions about the study: Principal Investigator: Holly T. Moses, Doctoral Candidate School of Teaching and Learning, PO Box 118210, FLG 5 hmoses@hhp.ufl.edu 352 294 1804 Faculty Supervisor: Dorene D. Ross, Ed.D., Professor School of Teaching and Learning, PO Box 117048, 2215D Norman Hall dross@coe.ufl.edu 352 273 4206

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155 Whom to contact about your rights as a research participant in the study: IRB02 Office, Box 112250, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611; phone 392 0433. Your consent to participate in this study will be implied by continuing to the next page and completing this anonymous survey. Remember: Your responses to these questions are anonym ous This means that you cannot be linked to your responses. Your participation in this study is voluntary. You have the right to withdraw from the study at any time without consequence. You do not have to answer a question if you find it objectionable.

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156 APPENDIX E PILOT SURVEY INSTRUM ENT A Survey: Student Experiences with Electronic Media and Perceptions of Cyberbullying Behaviors Eligibility: To participate in this study, you must currently be considered a college freshman, completing your first year of college at the University, and having graduated from high school within the last 12 months. This survey examines your experiences with electronic media, as well as your perceptions of cyberbullying behaviors during the last semester of high school. S urvey data will assist researchers to better understand how youth interact with one another using electronic media, and specifically, the nature of these interactions as related to cyberbullying behaviors. For the purposes of this study, electronic media includes any device or equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets that provide access to various communication tools (i.e., social media sites, text messages, chat, email, and websites). The survey requires approximately 15 minutes to complete. Please answer all questions completely based on what you knew about, observed, or actually experienced during your last semester in high school (i.e., January 2012 through May or June 2012). We offer you the following safeguards for completing the surv ey: 1. Your participation in the survey is voluntary. Whether or not you choose to participate, your status at the University of Florida will not be affected in any way. 2. Your responses will remain anonymous, and cannot be traced to you. 3. We do not request o r collect any personal identification such as name, UFID, Social Security number, etc. 4. Demographic information about your background only will be used to describe the general types and categories of respondents. Your name will not be traced to your respons es, and no respondent names will ever be reported. 5. If at any time, now or in the future, you have questions or concerns about the survey, you will receive immediate assistance by contacting: Thank you for your time and consideration. If you wou ld like to participate in the survey, please indicate your consent by clicking the NEXT button below. NEXT >> Dr. Dorene Ross, Professor and Supervisor University of Florida PO Box 117048, 2215D Norman Hall Gainesville FL 32611 (352)273 4206 dross@coe.ufl.edu Ms. Holly T. Moses, Doctoral Candidate University of Florida PO Box 118210, FLG 5 Gainesville FL 32611 8210 (352)294 1804 hmoses@hhp.ufl.edu

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157 The first set of questions examines YOUR perceptions regarding the seriousness and acceptability of specific behaviors or actions. Respond to t he questions based on YOUR experiences during your last semester of high school Your perceptions may have changed since high school so please remember to respond from your perspective at that time. Important Definitions Picked on : For the purposes of th mistreating, or making fun of another person. Electronic media include any device or equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets that provide a ccess to various communication tools (i.e., social media sites, text messages, online chat, email, and websites). 1. During your last semester in high school, what was your perception of the ACCEPTABILITY of a classmate picking on another classmate using ele ctronic media? a. Never okay b. Rarely okay c. Sometimes okay d. Usually okay e. Always okay 2. During your last semester in high school, what was your perception of the ACCEPTABILITY of the following behaviors ? Never okay Rarely okay Sometimes okay Usually okay Alwa ys okay Posting mean or hurtful comments about someone online Posting a mean or hurtful picture online of someone Posting a mean or hurtful video online of someone Creating a mean or hurtful web page about someone Spreading rumors about someone online Pretending to be someone else online and acting in a way that was mean or hurtful to them Sending mean or hurtful

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158 comments about someone through a cell phone text message Sending a mean or hurtful picture of someone t hrough a cell phone text message Sending a mean or hurtful video of someone through a cell phone text message Threatening to hurt someone through electronic media 3. During your last semester in high school, what was your perception of the SERIOUSNESS of the following behaviors or actions ? Never serious Rarely serious Sometimes serious Usually serious Always serious Posting mean or hurtful comments about someone online Posting a mean or hurtful picture online of someone Postin g a mean or hurtful video online of someone Creating a mean or hurtful web page about someone Spreading rumors about someone online Pretending to be someone else online and acting in a way that was mean or hurtful to them Sending me an or hurtful comments about someone through a cell phone text message Sending a mean or hurtful picture of someone through a cell phone text message Sending a mean or hurtful video of someone through a cell phone text message Threatening to hurt someone through electronic media

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159 4. During your last semester in high school, what was your perception of the ACCEPTABILITY of a classmate picking on another classmate using electronic media based on the following characteristics ? Victim Char acteristics Never okay Rarely okay Sometimes okay Usually okay Always okay Body size or features Sexual orientation Religious beliefs Race/ethnicity Accent, or how one talks Style of dress, or cl othes Physical disability Learning disability Popularity level 5. During your last semester in high school, what was your perception of the SERIOUSNESS of a classmate picking on another classmate using electronic media based on the fo llowing characteristics ? Victim Characteristics Never serious Rarely serious Sometimes serious Usually serious Always serious Body size or features Sexual orientation Religious beliefs Race/ethnicity A ccent, or how one talks Style of dress, or clothes Physical disability Learning disability Popularity level 6. If you ever picked on a classmate using electronic media during your last semester in high school, did you believe th at your behavior/action was JUSTIFIABLE ? a. Never picked on a classmate using electronic media b. Never justifiable c. Rarely justifiable d. Sometimes justifiable e. Usually justifiable f. Always justifiable

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160 7. During your last semester in high school, to what extent did YOU agree or disagree with the below statements regarding the use of electronic media? Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree Nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree Being picked on using electronic media is a normal part of life for high school students. Being picked on using electronic media is not a big deal It is okay to send or forward a message/photo/video that picks on a classmate if you know that person. It is okay to send or forward a message/photo/video that picks on a class mate if you that person. It is okay to send or forward a message/photo/video that picks on a classmate if that person you It is okay to send or forward a message/photo/video that picks on a classmate because you did not create or send the original message. 8. During your last semester in high school, to what extent did YOU agree or disagree with the below statements regarding the use of electronic media? Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree Nor Disagree Disagree Stron gly Disagree Adults should be held responsible for preventing students from cyberbullying one another. When I saw or heard about a

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161 classmate being cyberbullied, there was nothing I could do to stop it. When I received and/or viewed a message/p hoto/video that picked on a classmate, I did not feel it was my responsibility to stop it. When I received and/or viewed a message/photo/video that picked on a classmate, I did not feel bad for forwarding the message to other classmates because I did not create or send the original message. It is okay to pick on a classmate if your friends are doing it It is okay to pick on a classmate if your friends would get mad if 9. During your last semester in high school, to what extent did YOU agree or disagree with the below statements regarding the use of electronic media? Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree Nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree Picking on a classmate helps to make them a tougher person Picking o n a classmate helps to teach them a lesson Picking on a classmate helps to solve problems between students Picking on a classmate does not cause them any harm Picking on a classmate does not create negative effects inside schools Picking on a classmate does not

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162 create negative effects outside schools 10. During your last semester in high school, to what extent did YOU agree or disagree with the below statements regarding the use of electronic media? Strongly Agree Agree Neit her Agree Nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree High school students get picked on because they are different or weird High school students get picked on because they deserve it High school students get picked on because they pick on other s It is acceptable to pick on classmates who are different or weird It is acceptable to pick on classmates who deserve it It is acceptable to pick on classmates who pick on others The next 6 questions explore YOUR experiences w ith cyberbullying during YOUR final semester of high school Important Definitions Cyberbullying : someone repeatedly harasses, mistreats, picks on, or makes fun of another person using various form s of electronic media. o Note, the behavior or action is considered to occur repeatedly when it occurs more than once or when it is viewed/forwarded more than once or by more than one person. Electronic media include any device or equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets that provide access to various communication tools (i.e., social media sites, text messages, online chat, email, and websites).

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163 11. During my last semester in high school, I experienced the following treatment from a classmate or peer: Never Once A few times Several times Many times Someone posted mean or hurtful comments about me online Someone posted a mean or hurtful picture online of me Someone posted a mean or hurtful video online of me Someone created a mean or hurtful web page about me Someone spread a mean or hurtful rumor about me online Someone pretended to be me online and acted in a way that was mean or hurtful to me Someone se nt mean or hurtful comments about me through a cell phone text message Someone sent a mean or hurtful picture of me through a cell phone text message Someone sent a mean or hurtful video of me through a cell phone text message Someone thr eatened to hurt me through electronic media 12. During my last semester in high school, I was cyberbullied. a. Never b. Once c. A few times d. Several times e. Many times

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164 13. During my last semester in high school, I saw other people experience the following treatm ent from a classmate or peer: Never Once A few times Several times Many times Someone posted mean or hurtful comments about them online Someone posted a mean or hurtful picture online of them Someone posted a mean or hurtful video online of t hem Someone created a mean or hurtful web page about them Someone spread a mean or hurtful rumor about them online Someone pretended to be them online and acted in a way that was mean or hurtful to them Someone sent mean or hurtful comments about them through a cell phone text message Someone posted a mean or hurtful picture of them through a cell phone text message Someone posted a mean or hurtful video of them through a cell phone text message Someone threatened t o hurt them through electronic media 14. During my last semester in high school, I saw other people being cyberbullied a. Never b. Once c. A few times d. Several times e. Many times

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165 15. During my last semester in high school, I treated a classmate or peer in these wa ys : Never Once A few times Several times Many times I posted a mean or hurtful comment about someone online I posted a mean or hurtful picture online of someone I posted a mean or hurtful video online of someone I created a mean or hurt ful web page about someone I spread a mean or hurtful rumor about someone online I pretended to be someone else online and acted in a way that was mean or hurtful to them I sent mean or hurtful comments about them through a cell phone tex t message I sent a mean or hurtful picture of them through a cell phone text message I sent a mean or hurtful video of them through a cell phone text message I threatened to hurt someone through electronic media 16. During my last seme ster in high school, I cyberbullied others. a. Never b. Once c. A few times d. Several times e. Many times

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166 The final set of questions focuses on demographic information. The primary purpose for the questions is to tell the researcher more about survey participants. However, please be reminded that your responses to the survey will remain anonymous and cannot be traced to you. 17. How old are you now? ___________________ 18. What is your gender? a. Male b. Female c. Transgender 19. What is your sexual orientation? a. Heterosexual b. Gay/Le sbian c. Bisexual d. Unsure 20. How do you usually describe yourself? a. American Indian or Alaskan Native b. Asian or Pacific Islander c. Black or African American d. Hispanic or Latino/a e. White f. Bi racial or Multi racial g. Other 21. Please identify the City and State for the High S chool that you received your diploma from: _________________ 22. What type of High School did you receive your diploma from? a. Military High School b. Private High School, non Religious affiliation c. Private High School, Religious affiliation d. Public High School e. Virt ual School

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167 23. During your last semester in high school, how would you describe your popularity level? a. Very popular b. Popular c. Somewhat popular d. Unpopular e. Very unpopular Thank you for participating in the survey.

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168 APPENDIX F STUDENT EMAIL CONTAC T: PILOT STUDY First Email Subject: Electronic Media and Cyberbullying Survey Dear UF Freshman, I am a UF doctoral student and I am writing to ask for your participation in an Electronic Media and Cyberbullying Survey The purpose of this study is to explore th e relationship between student experiences with electronic media and personal perceptions of cyberbullying behaviors. In short, this survey is being conducted to Your name was selected from the re participate in this survey, your answers will be completely anonymous No personal identification (IP address, names, emails, etc.) will be collected and thus you will not be connected to your answers in any way. The survey is only available for two weeks so please act quickly. When you are ready to complete this 15 minute survey, please click on the following link: http s://ufhhphealtheducation.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_3xCjtGWYQrvCrGt Thank you very much for helping us better understand the relationship between student experiences with electronic media and personal perceptions of cyberbullying behaviors If you have any questions or comments about this survey, please feel free to contact me at (352) 294 1804 or by replying to this email. Thank you for your help and Go Gators! Sincerely, Holly T. Moses Holly T. Moses, MSHE, CHES Doctoral Candidate School of Teac hing and Learning University of Florida PO Box 117048, 2403 Norman Hall Gainesville, FL 32611 Phone: 352.294.1804 Email: hmoses@hhp.ufl.edu

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169 Second Email Subject: Electronic Media and Cyberbullying Survey Dear UF Freshman, A few days ago, I emailed you introducing myself and asking for your participation in an Electronic Media and Cyberbullying Survey If you have already completed and returned the questionnaire, please accept my sincere thanks. If not, I urge you to please consider doing so today. Y our opinions are very important as it identifies the relationship between student experiences with electronic media and personal perceptions of cyberbullying behaviors. As a fellow UF student I am grateful for your help. If you choose to participate in this survey your answers will be completely anonymous No personal identification (IP address, names, emails, etc.) will be collected and thus you will not be connected to your answers in any way. When you are ready to complete this 15 minute survey, ple ase click on the following link: https://ufhhphealtheducation.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_3xCjtGWYQrvCrGt The survey is only available for a few more days so please act quickly. If you have any questions or comments about this survey, please feel free to contact me at (352) 294 1804 or by replying to this email. Once again thank you for your help! Sincerely, Holly T. Moses Holly T. Moses, MSHE, CHES Doctoral Candida te School of Teaching and Learning University of Florida PO Box 117048, 2403 Norman Hall Gainesville, FL 32611 Phone: 352.294.1804 Email: hmoses@hhp.ufl.edu

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170 Final Email Subject: Electronic Media and Cyberbullying Survey Dear UF Freshman, Several day s ago, I emailed you introducing myself and asking for your participation in an Electronic Media and Cyberbullying Survey If you have already completed and returned the questionnaire, please accept my sincere thanks. If not, I urge you to please consider doing so today. Your opinions are very important as it identifies the relationship between student experiences with electronic media and personal perceptions of cyberbullying behaviors. As a fellow UF student I am grateful for your help. If you choose t o participate in this survey your answers will be completely anonymous No personal identification (IP address, names, emails, etc.) will be collected and thus you will not be connected to your answers in any way. When you are ready to complete this 15 m inute survey, please click on the following link: https://ufhhphealtheducation.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_3xCjtGWYQrvCrGt The survey is only available until 11:59pm TOD AY so please act quickly. If you have any questions or comments about this survey, please feel free to contact me at (352) 294 1804 or by replying to this email. Once again thank you for your help! Sincerely, Holly T. Moses Holly T. Moses, MSHE, CHES Doctoral Candidate School of Teaching and Learning University of Florida PO Box 117048, 2403 Norman Hall Gainesville, FL 32611 Phone: 352.294.1804 Email: hmoses@hhp.ufl.edu

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171 APPENDIX G FINAL STUDY SURVEY C ONSENT Student Experiences with Electronic Medi a and Perceptions of Cyberbullying Behaviors Purpose of the research study: The scientific purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between student experiences with electronic media and personal perceptions of cyberbullying behaviors thro ugh a survey What you will be asked to do in the study: If you agree to participate, you will be asked to respond to a 23 item (with multiple sub items) survey. The survey assesses demographic characteristics such as age, sex, and race/ethnicity as we ll as investigates the relationship between student experiences with electronic media and personal perceptions of cyberbullying behaviors during their last semester of high school. Time required: 15 minutes (one time only). Although the survey may appea r long, the average completion time for this survey has been 10 to 15 minutes among college freshman. Compensation/Incentive: Compensation is not provided for participation in this research. However, the first two and last two survey participants will each receive a $50 Visa gift card. If you wish to be considered for the incentive you will be sent to an additional screen, separate from the survey, where you can enter your contact information. Your information will not be linked to the survey, it is com pletely separate Additionally, the gift cards will be awarded, and then all recorded email addresses destroyed before any of the surveys are analyzed. To receive the gift card you must pick it up in room 6 of the Florida Gym. Risks: There are no anticip ated risks for participating in this study. Limits of Online Data Security: There is a minimal risk that security of any online data may be breached. However, Qualtrics (the online survey platform in which this survey will be run through) utilizes seve ral layers of encryption and firewalls to eliminate the risk of an information breach, and your data will be removed from the server soon after you complete the survey. It is unlikely that a security breach of the online data will result in any adverse co security policy statement, please visit http://www.qualtrics.com/security statement Benefits: You will not directly benefit from partici pating in this study. Confidentiality: This survey is anonymous. This means you will not be asked to provide any information that can identify you. There is no way to connect you to your responses. Your email or IP address will not be collected for any reason.

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172 Voluntary participation: Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. You have the right to withdraw from the study at any time without consequence. You do not have to answer any question you do not wish to answer. Whom to contact if you have questions about the study: Principal Investigator: Holly T. Moses, Doctoral Candidate School of Teaching and Learning, PO Box 118210, FLG 5 hmoses@hhp.ufl.edu 352 294 1804 Faculty Supervisor: Dorene D. Ross, Ed.D., Professor School of Teaching and Learning, PO Box 117048, 2215D Norman Hall dross@coe.ufl.edu 352 273 4206 Whom to contact about your rights as a research participant in the study: IRB02 Office, Box 112250, University of Florida, G ainesville, FL 32611; phone 392 0433. Your consent to participate in this study will be implied by continuing to the next page and completing this anonymous survey.

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173 APPENDIX H FINAL SURVEY INSTRUM ENT A Survey: Student Experiences with Electronic Me dia and Perceptions of Cyberbullying Behaviors Eligibility: To participate in this study, you must currently be considered a college freshman, completing your first semester of college at the University, and having graduated from high school within the la st 12 months. Additionally, you must be 18, or older. This survey examines your experiences with electronic media, as well as your perceptions of cyberbullying behaviors during the last semester of high school. Survey data will assist researchers to be tter understand how youth interact with one another using electronic media, and specifically, the nature of these interactions as related to cyberbullying behaviors. For the purposes of this study, electronic media includes any device or equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets that provide access to various communication tools (i.e., social media sites, text messages, chat, email, and websites). Although the survey may appear long, the average completion time for this survey has been 10 to 1 5 minutes among college freshman. Please answer all questions completely based on what you knew about, observed, or actually experienced during your last semester in high school (i.e., January 2013 through May or June 2013). We offer you the following sa feguards for completing the survey: 1. Your participation in the survey is voluntary. Whether or not you choose to participate, your status at the University of Florida will not be affected in any way. 2. Your responses will remain anonymous, and cannot be trac ed to you. 3. We do not request or collect any personal identification such as name, UFID, Social Security number, etc. 4. Demographic information about your background only will be used to describe the general types and categories of respondents. Your name wi ll not be traced to your responses, and no respondent names will ever be reported. 5. If at any time, now or in the future, you have questions or concerns about the survey, you will receive immediate assistance by contacting: Thank you for your tim e and consideration. If you would like to participate in the survey, please indicate your consent by clicking the NEXT button below. Dr. Dorene Ross, Professor and Supervisor University of Florida PO Box 117048, 2215D Norman Hall Gainesville FL 32611 (352)273 4206 dross@coe.ufl.edu Ms. Holly T. Moses, Doctoral Candidate University of Florida PO Box 118210, FLG 5 Gainesville, FL 32611 8210 (352)294 1804 hmoses@hhp.ufl.edu

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174 The first set of questions examines YOUR perceptions regarding the seriousness and acceptability of specific behaviors o r actions. Respond to the questions based on YOUR experiences during your last semester of high school Your perceptions may have changed since high school so please remember to respond from your perspective at that time. Important Definitions Picked on : mistreating, or making fun of another person. Electronic media include any device or equipment such as cell phones, computers, an d tablets that provide access to various communication tools (i.e., social media sites, text messages, online chat, email, and websites). 1. During your last semester in high school, what was your perception of the ACCEPTABILITY of a classmate picking on ano ther classmate using electronic media? a. Never okay b. Rarely okay c. Sometimes okay d. Usually okay e. Always okay 2. During your last semester in high school, what was your perception of the ACCEPTABILITY of the following behaviors ? Never okay Rarely okay Sometimes okay Usually okay Always okay Posting mean or hurtful comments about someone online Posting a mean or hurtful picture online of someone Posting a mean or hurtful video online of someone Creating a mean or hurtful web page about someone Spreading rumors about someone online Pretending to be someone else online and acting in a way that was mean or hurtful to them Sending mean or hurtful

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175 comments about someone through a cell phone text message Sending a mean or hurt ful picture of someone through a cell phone text message Sending a mean or hurtful video of someone through a cell phone text message Threatening to hurt someone through electronic media 3. During your last semester in high school, what wa s your perception of the SERIOUSNESS of the following behaviors or actions ? Never serious Rarely serious Sometimes serious Usually serious Always serious Posting mean or hurtful comments about someone online Posting a mean or hurtful picture online of someone Posting a mean or hurtful video online of someone Creating a mean or hurtful web page about someone Spreading rumors about someone online Pretending to be someone else online and acting in a way that was mean or hurtful to them Sending mean or hurtful comments about someone through a cell phone text message Sending a mean or hurtful picture of someone through a cell phone text message Sending a mean or hurtful video of someone through a cell phone text m essage Threatening to hurt someone through electronic media

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176 4. During your last semester in high school, what was your perception of the ACCEPTABILITY of a classmate picking on another classmate using electronic media based on the following chara cteristics ? Victim Characteristics Never okay Rarely okay Sometimes okay Usually okay Always okay Body size or features Sexual orientation Religious beliefs Race/ethnicity Accent, or how one talks Style of dress, or clothes Physical disability Learning disability Popularity level 5. During your last semester in high school, what was your perception of the SERIOUSNESS of a classmate picking on another classmate using electron ic media based on the following characteristics ? Victim Characteristics Never serious Rarely serious Sometimes serious Usually serious Always serious Body size or features Sexual orientation Religious beliefs Race/ethnicity Famil Accent, or how one talks Style of dress, or clothes Physical disability Learning disability Popularity level 6. If you ever picked on a classmate using electronic media during your last semester in high sc hool, did you believe that your behavior/action was JUSTIFIABLE ? a. Never picked on a classmate using electronic media b. Never justifiable c. Rarely justifiable d. Sometimes justifiable e. Usually justifiable f. Always justifiable

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177 7. During your last semester in high sch ool, to what extent did YOU agree or disagree with the below statements regarding the use of electronic media? Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree Nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree Being picked on using electronic media is a normal part of life for high school students. Being picked on using electronic media is not a big deal It is okay to send or forward a message/photo/video that picks on a classmate if you know that person. It is okay to send or forward a message/photo/vid eo that picks on a classmate if you that person. It is okay to send or forward a message/photo/video that picks on a classmate if that person you It is okay to send or forward a message/photo/video that picks on a class mate because you did not create or send the original message. 8. During your last semester in high school, to what extent did YOU agree or disagree with the below statements regarding the use of electronic media? Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree Nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree When I saw or heard about a classmate being cyberbullied, I did not feel it was my responsibility to stop it. When I received and/or viewed

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178 a message/photo/video that picked on a classmate, I did not feel it was my responsibility to stop it. When I received and/or viewed a message/photo/video that picked on a classmate, I did not feel bad for forwarding the message to other classmates because I did not create or send the original message. It is okay to pick on a classmate if your friends are doing it It is okay to pick on a classmate if your friends would get mad if 9. During your last semester in high school, to what extent did YOU agree or disagree with the below stateme nts regarding the use of electronic media? Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree Nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree Picking on a classmate helps to make them a tougher person Picking on a classmate helps to teach them a lesson Picking on a classmate helps to solve problems between students Picking on a classmate does not cause them any harm Picking on a classmate does not create negative effects inside schools Picking on a classmate does not create negative effects out side schools

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179 10. During your last semester in high school, to what extent did YOU agree or disagree with the below statements regarding the use of electronic media? Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree Nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree High scho ol students get picked on because they are different or weird High school students get picked on because they deserve it High school students get picked on because they pick on others It is acceptable to pick on classmates who are diff erent or weird It is acceptable to pick on classmates who deserve it It is acceptable to pick on classmates who pick on others The next 6 questions explore YOUR experiences with cyberbullying during YOUR final semester of high schoo l Important Definitions Cyberbullying : someone repeatedly harasses, mistreats, picks on, or makes fun of another person using various forms of electronic media. o Note, the behavior or action is c onsidered to occur repeatedly when it occurs more than once or when it is viewed/forwarded more than once or by more than one person. Electronic media include any device or equipment such as cell pho nes, computers, and tablets that provide access to various communication tools (i.e., social media sites, text messages, online chat, email, and websites).

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180 11. During my last semester in high school, I experienced the following treatment from a classmate or peer: Never Once A few times Several times Many times Someone posted mean or hurtful comments about me online Someone posted a mean or hurtful picture online of me Someone posted a mean or hurtful video online of me Someone created a me an or hurtful web page about me Someone spread a mean or hurtful rumor about me online Someone pretended to be me online and acted in a way that was mean or hurtful to me Someone sent mean or hurtful comments about me through a cell phone text message Someone sent a mean or hurtful picture of me through a cell phone text message Someone sent a mean or hurtful video of me through a cell phone text message Someone threatened to hurt me through electronic media 12. During my last semester in high school, I was cyberbullied. a. Never b. Once c. A few times d. Several times e. Many times

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181 13. During my last semester in high school, I saw other people experience the following treatment from a classmate or peer: Never Once A few times Sev eral times Many times Someone posted mean or hurtful comments about them online Someone posted a mean or hurtful picture online of them Someone posted a mean or hurtful video online of them Someone created a mean or hurtful web page abou t them Someone spread a mean or hurtful rumor about them online Someone pretended to be them online and acted in a way that was mean or hurtful to them Someone sent mean or hurtful comments about them through a cell phone text message Someone posted a mean or hurtful picture of them through a cell phone text message Someone posted a mean or hurtful video of them through a cell phone text message Someone threatened to hurt them through electronic media 14. During my las t semester in high school, I saw other people being cyberbullied a. Never b. Once c. A few times d. Several times e. Many times

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182 15. During my last semester in high school, I treated a classmate or peer in these ways : Never Once A few times Several times Many times I p osted a mean or hurtful comment about someone online I posted a mean or hurtful picture online of someone I posted a mean or hurtful video online of someone I created a mean or hurtful web page about someone I spread a mean or hurtf ul rumor about someone online I pretended to be someone else online and acted in a way that was mean or hurtful to them I sent mean or hurtful comments about them through a cell phone text message I sent a mean or hurtful picture of them through a cell phone text message I sent a mean or hurtful video of them through a cell phone text message I threatened to hurt someone through electronic media 16. During my last semester in high school, I cyberbullied others. a. Never b. Once c. A few times d. Several times e. Many times

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183 The final set of questions focuses on demographic information. The primary purpose for the questions is to tell the researcher more about survey participants. However, please be reminded that your responses to the survey will remain anonymous and cannot be traced to you. 17. How old are you now? ___________________ 18. What is your gender? a. Male b. Female c. Transgender 19. What is your sexual orientation? a. Heterosexual b. Gay/Lesbian c. Bisexual d. Unsure 20. How do you usually describe yours elf? a. American Indian or Alaskan Native b. Asian or Pacific Islander c. Black or African American d. Hispanic or Latino/a e. White f. Bi racial or Multi racial g. Other 21. Please identify the City and State for the High School that you received your diploma from: _____________ ____ 22. What type of High School did you receive your diploma from? a. Military High School b. Private High School, non Religious affiliation c. Private High School, Religious affiliation d. Public High School e. Virtual School

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184 23. During your last semester in high school, how would you describe your popularity level? a. Very popular b. Popular c. Somewhat popular d. Unpopular e. Very unpopular Thank you for participating in the survey.

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185 APPENDIX I STUDENT EMAIL CONTAC T: FINAL STUDY First Email Subject: Electronic Media and Cyberbu llying Survey Dear UF Freshman, I am a UF doctoral student and I am writing to ask for your participation in an Electronic Media and Cyberbullying Survey The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between student experiences with electroni c media and personal perceptions of cyberbullying behaviors. In short, this survey is being conducted to Office. If you choose to part icipate in this survey, your answers will be completely anonymous No personal identification (IP address, names, emails, etc.) will be collected and thus you will not be connected to your answers in any way. Four participants will be selected at random to each receive a $50 Visa gift card If you wish to be considered for the incentive you will be sent to an additional screen, separate from the survey, where you can enter your contact information. Your information will not be linked to the survey, it is completely separate To receive the gift card you must pick it up in room 6 of the Florida Gym. The survey is only available for three weeks so please act quickly. When you are ready to complete this 10 15 minute survey, please click on the following lin k: https://ufhhphealtheducation.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_4YF3VoZfHUjWXLD Thank you very much for helping us better understand the relationship between stu dent experiences with electronic media and personal perceptions of cyberbullying behaviors If you have any questions or comments about this survey, please feel free to contact me at (352) 294 1804 or by replying to this email. Thank you for your help an d Go Gators! Sincerely, Holly T. Moses, MSHE, CHES Doctoral Candidate School of Teaching and Learning University of Florida PO Box 117048, 2403 Norman Hall Gainesville, FL 32611 Phone: 352.294.1804 Email: hmoses@hhp.ufl.edu

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186 Second Email Subject: Elec tronic Media and Cyberbullying Survey Dear UF Freshman, I am a UF doctoral student and I am writing to ask for your participation in an Electronic Media and Cyberbullying Survey The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between student ex periences with electronic media and personal perceptions of cyberbullying behaviors. In short, this survey is being conducted to Offic e. If you choose to participate in this survey, your answers will be completely anonymous No personal identification (IP address, names, emails, etc.) will be collected and thus you will not be connected to your answers in any way. Four participants wil l be selected at random to each receive a $50 Visa gift card If you wish to be considered for the incentive you will be sent to an additional screen, separate from the survey, where you can enter your contact information. Your information will not be link ed to the survey, it is completely separate To receive the gift card you must pick it up in room 6 of the Florida Gym. The survey is only available for three weeks so please act quickly. When you are ready to complete this 10 15 minute survey, please cl ick on the following link: https://ufhhphealtheducation.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_4YF3VoZfHUjWXLD Thank you very much for helping us better understand the relationship between student experiences with electronic media and personal perceptions of cyberbullying behaviors If you have any questions or comments about this survey, please feel free to contact me at (352) 294 1804 or by replying to this email. Th ank you for your help and Go Gators! Sincerely, Holly T. Moses, MSHE, CHES Doctoral Candidate School of Teaching and Learning University of Florida PO Box 117048, 2403 Norman Hall Gainesville, FL 32611 Phone: 352.294.1804 Email: hmoses@hhp.ufl.edu

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187 Third Email Subject: Electronic Media and Cyberbullying Survey Dear UF Freshman, I am a UF doctoral student and I am writing to ask for your participation in an Electronic Media and Cyberbullying Survey The purpose of this study is to explore the relati onship between student experiences with electronic media and personal perceptions of cyberbullying behaviors. In short, this survey is being conducted to Your name was selected from the records at Office. If you choose to participate in this survey, your answers will be completely anonymous No personal identification (IP address, names, emails, etc.) will be collected and thus you will not be connected to your answers in any way Four participants will be selected at random to each receive a $50 Visa gift card If you wish to be considered for the incentive you will be sent to an additional screen, separate from the survey, where you can enter your contact information. Your inf ormation will not be linked to the survey, it is completely separate To receive the gift card you must pick it up in room 6 of the Florida Gym. The survey is only available for three weeks so please act quickly. When you are ready to complete this 10 15 minute survey, please click on the following link: https://ufhhphealtheducation.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_4YF3VoZfHUjWXLD Thank you very much for helping us better understand the relationship between student experiences with electronic media and personal perceptions of cyberbullying behaviors If you have any questions or comments about this survey, please feel free to contact me at (352) 294 1804 or by rep lying to this email. Thank you for your help and Go Gators! Sincerely, Holly T. Moses, MSHE, CHES Doctoral Candidate School of Teaching and Learning University of Florida PO Box 117048, 2403 Norman Hall Gainesville, FL 32611 Phone: 352.294.1804 Emai l: hmoses@hhp.ufl.edu

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188 Final Email Subject: Electronic Media and Cyberbullying Survey Dear UF Freshman, I am a UF doctoral student and I am writing to ask for your participation in an Electronic Media and Cyberbullying Survey The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between student experiences with electronic media and personal perceptions of cyberbullying behaviors. In short, this survey is being conducted to Your name was sele Office. If you choose to participate in this survey, your answers will be completely anonymous No personal identification (IP address, names, emails, etc.) will be collected and thus you will not be connected to your answers in any way. Four participants will be selected at random to each receive a $50 Visa gift card If you wish to be considered for the incentive you will be sent to an additional screen, separate from the survey, where you can enter your conta ct information. Your information will not be linked to the survey, it is completely separate To receive the gift card you must pick it up in room 6 of the Florida Gym. The survey is only available for three weeks so please act quickly. When you are read y to complete this 10 15 minute survey, please click on the following link: https://ufhhphealtheducation.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_4YF3VoZfHUjWXLD Thank yo u very much for helping us better understand the relationship between student experiences with electronic media and personal perceptions of cyberbullying behaviors If you have any questions or comments about this survey, please feel free to contact me at (352) 294 1804 or by replying to this email. Thank you for your help and Go Gators! Sincerely, Holly T. Moses, MSHE, CHES Doctoral Candidate School of Teaching and Learning University of Florida PO Box 117048, 2403 Norman Hall Gainesville, FL 32611 Phone: 352.294.1804 Email: hmoses@hhp.ufl.edu

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197 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Holly Turner Moses was born January 1, 1981 in Lake City, Florida. She grew up in Fort White, Florida and graduated from Columbia High School in 1999. After graduation, Holly attended the University of Florida (UF) as an undergraduate in Health Science Education where her passion for health education began. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Health Science Education with a specialization in School Health in 2003. Holly continued her studies by pursuing a Master of Science in Health Science Education immediately following graduation. With a newfound interest in college health education, Holly taught multiple sections of HSC2100, Personal and Family Health, throughout her graduate studies Holly was hir ed to serve as the Undergraduate Program Coordinator in the Department of Health Education and Behavior at the University of Florida Holly assumed the ro les of academic advisor and inter nship Lambda chapter, the health education honorary. In 200 8 H olly enrolled half time in the Ph.D. program in the School of Teaching and Learning. During her time a s a UF doctoral student she clarified her research focus and developed a survey instrument to investigat perceptions of cyberbullying behaviors as related to the processes of moral doctoral dissertation research included significant findings that will lead to several publication s in scholarly journals. Holly was granted a Doctor of Philosophy in Cur riculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Curriculum, Teaching, and Teacher Education o n December 13, 201 3