Missing Link: Exploring Repetition and Intentionality of Distress in Cyberbullying Behaviors Within a College Population

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As online harassment and technology use continues to grow, the need for a clear definition of cyberbullying also increases. Although differing definitions of cyberbullying continue to be proposed within the literature, several include distinguishing characteristics associated with traditional (i.e., face-to-face) bullying behaviors. How these characteristics relate to the behaviors typically included in cyberbullying checklists remains unknown, leading to criticism of much of the body of knowledge surrounding cyberbullying. The current study examines two of the distinguishing characteristics within a college population: repetition and intentionality. The current study establishes that, on average, individuals who engage in cyberbullying-type behaviors while at college do so multiple times and intend to cause distress to their targets. A similar result was found for individuals who experience the behaviors examined, with these individuals reporting that they experienced distress due to these experiences. The current study provides evidence that the distinguishing characteristics of repetition and intentionality are present in college students’ online behaviors, supporting the assertion that cyberbullying behaviors are experienced in college populations.

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