Tali Heiman and Dorit Olenik-Shemesh
The Open University of Israel, Israel
Posters & Accepted Abstracts: J Psychiatry
The prevalence of cyber-bullying among schoolchildren appears to be widespread, mainly during adolescence. The internet and, in particular, social networking have become an inseparable part of children's daily lives, providing a new form of social space in which they might be exposed to online bullying. Cyber-bullying refers to a negative activity aimed at deliberate and repeated harm, by a person or a group of people in order to harm another person, by using a variety of electronic media. Adolescents diagnosed with disabilities represent a specific population of special needs that manifest increased risk for engagement in peer bullying behavior as perpetrators or victims. Thus, understanding the relationship between these students and cyber-bullying may help in promoting efficient coping strategies for this population. The presentation will describe the involvement in cyber-bullying among adolescents with and without disabilities, as related to emotional aspects (loneliness, depression, support) and an intervention program in order to increase awareness and to provide useful tools to reduce the cyber-bullying incidents. Results from various studies including 2000 children and adolescents in Israel revealed that significantly more students with disabilities reported being cyber-victims, and cyber perpetrator compared to students without disabilities; student who were cyber-victims reported on greater loneliness, depressive mood and lower social support. Intervention program included five meetings and workshops with 365 students (51.4% boys) aged 12-18. Findings revealed that after the program fewer students reported being cyber-victimized (22.5% vs. 15.5%) or cyber-bullies (7.4% vs. 4.95%). These findings are important in order to raise awareness and the ability to deal with this phenomenon, to provide effective tools to cope with, and to allocate resources to prevent cyber-bullying.
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