How Theoretical Frameworks Inform the Understanding of the Relationship Between Gender and Cyberbullying

How Theoretical Frameworks Inform the Understanding of the Relationship Between Gender and Cyberbullying

Monica Bixby Radu (Southeast Missouri State University, USA) and Alexandria L. Rook (Southeast Missouri State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3479-3.ch028

Abstract

Over the past two decades, bullying has received a lot of negative attention, with educators, parents, and youths expressing concerns regarding bullying at schools. However, bullying also occurs outside of schools, and the internet provides a platform that allows bullying to extend beyond the traditional school day. Scholars identify this form of bullying as cyberbullying. Research regarding the relationship between gender and cyberbullying remains unclear. Therefore, using an interdisciplinary approach, this chapter examines gender differences in cyberbullying. Merging theoretical insights from criminology, sociology, and gender studies, this chapter explores how male and female youths utilize the internet to engage in cyberbullying. This chapter also considers the implications of gender differences in cyberbullying for future research and policy development.
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Introduction

Over the past two decades, bullying has received considerable attention, with scholars, educators, parents, and youths expressing their concerns regarding bullying at school. While studies suggest that bullying is relatively common in elementary, middle, and high schools, bullying also occurs outside of schools. The Internet, as well as other forms of technology, provide a platform that allows bullying to extend beyond face-to-face peer interaction. Scholars identify this form of bullying as cyberbullying. Cyberbullying refers to intentional, aggressive behaviors that are perpetrated through mediated communication, such as email, text messages, social media, or other online websites (Sticca & Perren, 2013). Cyberbullying not only affects school-age youth and adolescents, as recent literature suggests that technological advances have also contributed to an increase in workplace cyberbullying among adults (D’Souza, Forsyth, Tappin & Catley, 2018; Vranjes, 2018).

While both bullying and cyberbullying have gained national attention, research remains uncertain regarding the link between gender and various forms of bullying. Seals and Young (2003) suggest that like most crime, males are more likely than females to both perpetrate and be the victim of bullying. Yet, other researchers argue that both males and females are equally likely to engage in bullying, but there are gender differences in the ways in which boys and girls engage in bullying (Day & Kahle, 2014). Other research specifically focuses on gender differences in regard to cyberbullying perpetration and victimization. For example, Li (2006) found that among a sample of 256 youths, 22% of males reported engaging in cyberbullying as perpetrators, compared to 11.6% of female youths. However, there was little difference between male (25%) and female (25.6%) youths in relation to being the victim of cyberbullying (Li, 2006). More recently, using an online questionnaire to ask youths about their experiences with cyberbullying (N=208), Wong, Cheung, and Xia (2018) found that compared to female youths, males were more likely to be both the perpetrators and victims of cyberbullying. While these studies are valuable contributions to research on cyberbullying, they also suggest that research is inconclusive concerning the relationship between gender and cyberbullying perpetration and victimization.

Scholars recognize the importance of understanding the relationship between gender and various forms of bullying because there may be unique consequences for male and female victims of cyberbullying. For example, drawing from a sample of 1,222 youths across 15 schools in the United States, Carbone-Lopez, Esbensen, and Brick (2010) found that girls tended to experience a broader range of consequences related bullying than their male counterparts, including more severe psychological and health problems. The authors also found that being the victim of indirect or relational bullying had a negative effect on girls’ self-esteem, while for boys, this form of bullying was not associated with variations in self-esteem.

Therefore, in this article, the authors argue that to better (1) help individuals cope with their experiences with cyberbullying victimization and (2) prevent individuals from engaging in cyberbullying, scholars, educators, and policymakers need to better understand patterns and trends associated with online bullying. This article contributes to research on gender and cyberbullying by merging insights from criminology, sociology, and gender studies to review prior literature on bullying and more specifically, cyberbullying. Additionally, the authors present how theoretical perspectives, including the “doing gender” perspective and an intersectional approach may help shape our understanding regarding the relationship between gender and cyberbullying. Following this, the authors consider implications for policy development and future research.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Workplace Cyberbullying: Aggressive online behavior that is intentionally perpetrated between or among co-workers.

Doing Gender: A perspective that suggests that gender is a social construct, a routine accomplishment that is embedded in everyday interactions.

Cyberbullying: Aggressive behaviors that are perpetrated intentionally through mediated communication, such as email, text messages, social media, or other online websites.

Intersectionality: A theoretical framework that considers multiple dimensions of individuals’ lives, emphasizing that experiences may vary based on the overlapping nature of individuals’ social identities.

Bully Victim: An individual who has been the target of harmful and aggressive behaviors.

Bullying: Intentional, repeated actions meant to harm a victim and perpetuate an inequity of power between the bullying and victim(s).

Bully: An individual who asserts dominance by engaging in repeated and aggressive behaviors towards an individual or individual(s).

Gender Display: The behavioral aspects of being a woman or man, opposed to biological differences between the sexes.

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