Cyberbullying: Experiences and support needs of students in a secondary school

  • Naomi Summers

Student thesis: Phd


The arrival of Smartphones has changed the way young people communicate with one another. These devices allow youngsters to have continuous access to their social world away from the prying eyes of adults. Unfortunately, increased access to online networking provides new means through which they can be bullied. Case study methodology employing mixed methods was adopted. The study consisted of two distinct phases and had two separate aims. During phase 1 of the study, a total of 352, Year 7 and Year 10 students were asked to complete a questionnaire, the aim of which was to investigate the prevalence and extent of cyberbullying amongst students. Quantitative analysis of the data revealed that students were reluctant to report their experiences of unpleasant cyber incidents to school staff. Phase 2 of this study investigated this finding further. A total of 18, Year 7 and Year 10 students participated in three separate focus group discussions, the purpose of which was to explore students' views on what actions need to be taken in schools to support the reporting of incidents of cyberbullying to staff.The results from the questionnaire data revealed that Smartphones are deeply embedded in young people's lives even among those from the most socially deprived areas of England. Over a quarter of the students indicated that they had experienced any one of ten different unpleasant cyber incidents. The findings also suggested that much of the cyberbullying occurred within the context of students' social relationships in real life. Data from the focus group discussions highlighted that students wanted access to a diverse range of reporting routes. Notably, students stressed the importance of raising the profile of anti-bullying initiatives within school. Once this was embedded, students perhaps would be more willing to assert their rights and report incidents of bullying.Implications of the findings are discussed in relation to extending the focus of e-safety education beyond both technological solutions and stranger danger. Highlighting the differences between relationships in the real and virtual worlds to students is discussed. There is also a focus on engaging students in debate around ethical questions such as, identifying their rights in relation to bullying and learning to manage their own interpersonal conflicts.
Date of Award1 Aug 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorKevin Woods (Supervisor) & Caroline Bond (Supervisor)


  • Peer relationships
  • Secondary school
  • Smartphones
  • Cyberbullying
  • E-safety

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