Benchmarks and Bellwethers in Cyberbullying: the Relational Process of Telling

Faye Mishna*, Arija Birze, Andrea Greenblatt, Mona Khoury-Kassabri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


There is a lack of research that examines and compares the perspectives of students and their parents and teachers with respect to cyberbullying. Qualitative data were drawn from a mixed methods study on cyberbullying among students in grades 4, 7, and 10, in a large urban school board. Interviews with 13 students and their parents and teachers took place during year one and with students and parents in year three. Data analysis occurred through an ongoing process of open, axial, and selective coding. Overall, the youth and adults demonstrated similar understanding of cyberbullying. It emerged, however, that for the youth participants, telling about their cyberbullying experiences was a relational process. In contrast, the adult participants made little mention of these relational aspects in their explanations. We characterize this relational process as students’ use of benchmarks (point of reference) and bellwethers (someone or something that is used as a predictor), throughout their decision-making (both implicit and explicit). It is important that this relational process of telling, for example, deciding whether and to whom to disclose, informs education and intervention strategies.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)241-252
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Bullying Prevention
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Fund:Grant #410-2011-1001, for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Funding Information:
We would like to acknowledge first and foremost the Toronto District School Board for their utmost commitment to participating in the study, as well as each school for their dedication to both data collection and ensuring that the mental health needs of students identified through the study were addressed. We would like to thank the students, parents, and teachers for sharing their experiences with us. We would also like to thank the research assistants,?as without them we could not have completed this study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


  • Cyberbullying
  • Cyberbullying disclosure
  • Cyberbullying perspectives of youth and adults
  • Relational aspects of cyberbullying
  • Understanding cyberbullying


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