Incidents of cyberbullying are increasingly becoming common. However, its negative effects are not only related to its victims but also the perpetrators.
A new study on the subject of cyberbullying unveils the link between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the cyberbullies, as well. The study based on 2,000 teenagers in the United Kingdom was published in BMJ Journals, Archives of Disease in Childhood titled "Cyberbullying and post-traumatic stress symptoms in UK adolescents."
For the study, the researchers included four London secondary schools and surveyed over 2200 students between age group of 11 to 19 years. They used the Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire to assess the sample group and determine whether they were the victims or perpetrators, or both.
In their study, the researchers defined traditional bullying as "Face-to-face bullying is when someone says mean or hurtful things to other people, makes fun of others, ignores or excludes other people, tells lies or spreads rumours about others, threatens to hurt others, or actually hurts other people." And cyberbullying was defined as: "when these things are done online or using communication technology, for example, texting, emailing, Facebook."
In addition, children were given the eight-item Children Revised Impact of Events Scale to measure PTS symptoms. It was found out that 35 percent of the cyber victims, 29.2 percent of the cyberbullies and 28.6 percent of the cyberbully-victims were above the threshold of the CRIES and showed clinically significant symptoms of PTSD.
As per the news release, it is the first UK study to assess PTS symptoms following cyberbullying and to include lifetime cyberbullying involvement and type of PTS symptoms. Meanwhile, the researchers from the Imperial College of London claim that their finding has important clinical implications that can prove to be useful for parents, teachers, and mental health professionals while dealing with young adults.
"Perpetrating aggression exposes bullies to potentially violent situations in which they can lose control and even feel vulnerable at some point or regret from it, having intrusive memories," said clinical psychologist Ana Pascual-Sánchez and one of the authors of the study told CNN. "It seems as if the anonymity provided by online means could increase the risk of cyberbullying perpetration, providing a platform that is easy to access, and that can reach others quickly and easily."
Meanwhile, Sameer Hinduja, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center and professor of criminology at Florida Atlantic University, believes that studying PTSD in cyberbullies can be enlightening. "We absolutely need professionals to continue to study some of these underlying psychological and physiological components, which can lead to these problems," Hinduja said.