FAU Prof receives grant to study cyberbullying, dating violence

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By Dale King  The Pineapple Contributing Writer BOCA RATON, FL – Cyberbullying expert, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center and a professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University has received a $188,776 grant from the Digital Trust Foundation, formed by Facebook, to study cyberbullying and teen dating violence. Sameer Hinduja, Ph. D., said the main goal of the study is to spotlight the nationwide prevalence, frequency and scope of cyberbullying and electronic dating violence among a population of youth. “Cyberbullying is a unique form of digital abuse that involves a range of tormenting, humiliating, threatening, embarrassing and harassing behaviors and has gained a lot of attention in recent years,” said Hinduja. “Many teens across the United States also experience dating violence that typically consists of various forms of mistreatment from insults and rumor spreading to threats and physical assaults,” he said. Dr. Hinduja and his collaborator, Justin Patchin, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center, will construct a nationally representative panel of teens – ages 12 to 17– to be surveyed with parental consent. Apart from descriptive findings by age gender, grade and other demographics, researchers also will collect data on contributing factors as well as the negative outcomes that stem from cyberbullying participation as an aggressor or a target. Hinduja indicated most of the previous studies have focused on local schools or school districts, creating a limited database. In addition, “The few nationally-representative data sources that have been analyzed are woefully out of date,” he said. Hinduja and Patchin already have surveyed more than 15,000 students from middle and high schools across the country. Findings show that 26 percent of students surveyed reported being cyberbullied at some point in their lifetimes. About 9 percent said they were cyberbullied in the 30 days preceding the survey. Similarly, about 16 percent of those surveyed admitted that they had cyberbullied others at some point in their lifetimes (about 6 percent in the most recent 30 days). The researchers also reviewed 73 published research articles and found, “the average was remarkably similar to the rates found in our work – about 21 percent of teens have been cyberbullied and about 15 percent admitted to cyberbullying others at some point in their lives,” said Hinduja. “Taken as a whole, it seems safe to conclude that about one of every four teens has experienced cyberbullying, and about one of every six teens has done it to others.”