“Were You Cyberbullied? Let Me Help You.” Studying Adolescents’ Online Peer Support of Cyberbullying Victims Using Thematic Analysis of Online Support Group Fora
Adolescents often seek and provide peer support as an effective strategy for countering cyberbullying victimization. Little is known about the actual content of such peer support, however, partly due to limitations inherent to survey, interview or focus group research. The current study examined online peer support that had been sought and provided with regard to cyberbullying. It involved thematic analysis of cyberbullying message threads, and stories of benefit and effectiveness, in two online support group fora for adolescents. Applying Tardy’s (1985) social support framework, and including the social support categorisations proposed by House (1981), we found that peer support in this context involved information on coping strategies, and discussion of: (cyber)bullying as a phenomenon; the actors involved; and, the victim’s specific (cyber)bullying situation. In addition, online fora members provided victims with various subtypes of emotional support. Further research is needed on the effectiveness of different types of peer support, particularly regarding the coping strategies that adolescents recommend.
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