Who Gets Bullied?

The American Academy of Pediatrics has identified bullying as a serious health risk for adolescents. In today's age of social media and smartphones, this health risk has taken on new forms and extended its reach. Strategies to reduce the prevalence of and negative consequences associated with both traditional bullying and cyberbullying require knowledge of victims' lived experiences as well as the coping strategies they employ—both effectively and ineffectively—to respond to their tormentors. An article published in the journal Information, Communication & Society presents findings from an in-depth content analysis of the entire set of 1094 comments from a viral blog post about cyberbullying in which people shared their personal stories of bullying and coping. These stories included a mix of both traditional and online forms of victimization, as well as more general reflections about the distinct qualities of networked publics that serve to magnify, spread, and exacerbate the effects of bullying. The findings suggest that victims of both traditional bullying and cyberbullying are often targeted because they do not conform in one way or another to mainstream norms and values. Victims employed similar coping strategies to respond to their online and offline tormentors. Common behavioral strategies included seeking social support, ignoring/blocking, and finding a creative or expressive outlet. The two most commonly cited cognitive strategies were self-talk and taking the bully's perspective. Not all strategies were judged to be effective. The findings have relevance to researchers seeking to understand bullying from the perspective of victims and to practitioners seeking to develop effective interventions to support bullying victims.

For the abstract.


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