Knowledge is power. Providing children with information about the effects of bullying allows them to make informed decisions related to bullying. Aggressive language, physical harassment, abuse, and intimidation are just some ways that children bully each other. Victims of bullying are at risk for physical and psychological problems, including anxiety, fear, aggression, violence, self-harm, and substance abuse.
One specific type of bullying, cyber bullying, has become especially concerning and children and adolescents who are victims of cyber bullying are particularly vulnerable to depression and other negative psychological outcomes. With cyber bullying on the rise, every approach to minimize perpetration must be explored.
Ming-Shinn Lee of the Department of Curriculum Design and Human Potentials Development at National Dong Hwa University in Taiwan sought to assess the effectiveness of a new cyber-bullying education intervention known as WebQuest. The program is designed as a teaching program to aid students by engaging them in online activities that educate them about cyber-bullying. Lee enrolled 61 seventh grade students in the study and had 30 of them complete four weeks of the WebQuest program. The remaining 31 students did not participate in any educational or intervention program. At the end of the study period, Lee evaluated the students’ level of knowledge about bullying and their attitudes toward bullying behavior.
The results revealed that although WebQuest did effectively increase students’ awareness and knowledge related to cyber-bullying, it did nothing to change the attitudes they held toward that type of behavior. Surprisingly, even though the students’ intentions toward bullying were reduced and those positive effects were retained, the overall attitude toward bullying did not shift as a result of increased awareness.
Lee believes perhaps the short duration of WebQuest could explain this finding. Lee added, “It takes a long time to change the attitude towards cyber-bulling; therefore, it is not easy to change students’ attitudes toward cyber-bullying after only a four-week course.” Because this study was exploratory in nature, future efforts could consider these results as a foundation for studying longitudinal outcomes of more intensive bullying interventions that require longer adherence.
Lee, M-S., Zi-Pei, W., Svanström, L., Dalal, K. (2013). Cyber bullying prevention: Intervention in Taiwan. PLoS ONE 8(5): e64031. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0064031
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