Dorit Olenik-Shemesh and Tali Heiman
The Open University of Israel, Israel
Posters & Accepted Abstracts: J Psychiatry
Cyber-bullying (CB) is a form of interpersonal aggression that occurs on-line, through electronic means (Bilic, 2013), emerged and increased over the last decade, and has a diverse negative socio-emotional impacts on adolescents well-being. As in traditional bullying the abuse of power in a social context constructed triangle: Perpetrator –victim – bystander. The role of bystanders in CB episodes is uniquely powerful, yet little is known about their behaviors in CB episodes. In cyber space, the peers who witness the harassment can either increase or decrease the harm to victims' lives. Furthermore, by showing compassion and empathy, bystanders can become protectors. The current study explored the bystanders' behavior of involvement in CB episodes among 1094 Israeli adolescents, differencing between active and passive patterns of behavior and the personal and socio-emotional aspects associated with these patterns. Of the 1,094 participants (ages 12-18), 46.4% were bystanders to CB episodes. Of the bystanders, 55.4% were identified as having a passive pattern of behavior - did not provide help to cyber-victims, whereas 44.6% were identified as having an active pattern -helping cyber-victims. The “active bystanders” are more often girls, older, have more social support from significant others and lower levels of emotional loneliness than the "passive bystanders". Gender and age predicted the probability of being an active bystander. The findings may contribute to developing intervention programs that will focus on providing knowledge and tools for youth of how to encourage and empower peers cyber-victims, thus preventing the spread and further harm of CB and improve adolescents' well-being.
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