Coping strategies have the ability to reduce immediate and long-term stress from cyberbullying experiences. Strategies for coping with bullying are reported to vary across demographics and parental support. Victims tend to choose various coping strategies for different types of bullying by evaluation of potential social resources, while evidence of the patterns of coping strategies to various cyberbullying victimization are limited. Self-compassion has been found to play a mediating role between negative life experiences and negative health outcomes, while current research on coping mechanisms for cyberbullying has suffered from the failure to assess the effects of self-compassion. This study compares the perceptions of cyberbullying victims and non-victims in relation to the coping strategies for different types of cyberbullying victimization.
Using a convenience sampling method, a group of 1,339 Chinese adolescents from grades 4–9 of vocational schools in Jiangxi province were invited to participate in the study. The majority of the participants (73.3%) were children left behind at home, with one or two of the parents being migrant workers during or before the survey period. All children receiving education at the sampled schools were included as eligible participants. The mean scores and standard deviations (SD) of the scales measuring self-compassion were computed. Any gender-related differences were tested by t- tests or chi-square tests. Effects of demographic factors, cyberbullying victimization, and self-compassion on coping strategies were computed with logistic regression analysis.
Results showed that 520 (38.8%) of the participants reported having at least one type of cyberbullying victimization in their lifetime. Cyberbullying victims indicated a stronger preference towards doing nothing, or to rely on themselves, instead of seeking help. Both victims and non-victims indicated ‘Asking a parent/family for help’ as the first choice across all victimization types, which accounted for about 40% of all the strategies in all victimization forms. We found significant differences in different types of coping strategies, that cyberbullying victims indicated greater preference for “do nothing” (35.1% vs 19.7%) and “taking individual actions” (21.8% vs 13.3%), but a lower preference to ask help from adults. Coping strategies were positively related to cyberbullying victimization (β=.296, p<.01, 95%CI [0.111, 0.481]), but negatively associated with self-compassion (β=-.024, 95%CI [-0.041, -0.007]).
Conclusions and Implications:
This study provides evidence that can be used to enhance policy and practice for effectively enabling parents and professionals’ involvement in cyberbullying intervention. Children left behind have more difficulties getting sufficient support from caregivers and are less likely to show self- compassion when being bullied online or offline. School social workers should increase students' awareness of counselling services and demonstrate knowledge of resources, to increase students` confidence in seeking help from social workers and other professionals. Cyberbullying prevention programs should therefore arm parents with the knowledge to provide support to, and strengthen self-compassion of children, to modulate positive coping emotions and cyber behaviors.