By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Frontline experts, organizations, and students today discussed strategies to prevent cyberbullying at a conference at Community College of Philadelphia.
The conference featured the results of an online harassment survey developed by the students of CCP associate professor Rick Frei’s “Descriptive Research Methods in Psychology” course.
“The survey this semester looked at the relationship between cyberbullying and self-esteem,” Frei said today. “People who were cyberbullied more had lower self-esteem when it comes to how they look, how they do in social situations, and how well they do in school.”
He notes that while research indicates victims of cyberbullying have low self-esteem, his survey, filled out by 750 respondents, more than half of whom were under 21, showed perpetrators also have similar self-esteem issues.
“Sometimes the perpetrators were even more tormented than the victims, which was surprising,” says the project manager for the conference, CCP student Laura Smith, who already has a bachelor’s degree in communications and is now studying psychology.
“People being nasty is an age-old problem,” Smith says, but the ease with which someone can now be contacted takes bullying to new and troubling levels.
“A lot of people have their phones linked to Facebook,” she notes. “You can be lying in bed and get Facebook flashups and texts late at night. You can never escape it.”
Frei’s previous work includes research on sexting, snitching, and gun violence.
The conference also featured a panel discussion on how schools and communities respond to all types of bullying, and a screening of the PBS documentary Bully, which looks at how bullying affects five schoolchildren and their families.