A Qualitative Analysis of Middle School Administrators' Perceptions of Cyberbullying
Moore, Danielle Hart
McLaughlin, Margaret J
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ABSTRACT Title of Document: A QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS OF MIDDLE SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS’ PERCEPTIONS OF CYBERBULLYING Danielle Moore, Doctor of Education, 2018 Directed by: Dr. Stephanie Timmons-Brown, College of Education With the increase in students’ use of technology—and subsequently social media, email, and texting—schools have seen a marked increase in instances of cyberbullying. The aim of this study was to explore six middle schools’ implementation of a district cyberbullying policy in one school system. Each of the six schools had documented incidents of cyberbullying in the most recent schools years. The researcher collected data, through one-on-one interviews with principals and administrative designees who managed student cyberbullying incidents, in order to address the following research questions: (1) How do administrators approach and process cyberbullying incidents? (2) What are administrators’ perceptions of how cyberbullying impacts the learning environment? (3) What strategies have middle school administrators employed to reduce cyberbullying incidents? The participants noted that cyberbullying negatively affected the learning environment for schools, created unsafe spaces that impeded student learning, and monopolized the time of administrators. Most notably, the results indicate that although schools address incidents of cyberbullying with the district policy in mind, they do not always document or report the incidents to district leaders, as the policy requires. As a result, the district may be unknowingly underreporting cyberbullying incidents to the state. Based on these findings, the researcher recommended that the school district consider streamlining the process by which school administrators document cyberbullying investigations and results, strengthen efforts to educate parents about how to monitor their students’ social media use, and provide middle schools with research-based prevention programs to support their efforts to address cyberbullying.