Along with the extensive use of the Internet, information communication networks and the applications provided by these networks not only make life easier for man but also bring some problems. Progress in the field of information communication and the intensive use of technology by the students at the basic education age has led to the emergence of cyberbullying behaviours that have emerged as a different form of the traditional peer bullying that the students exhibited in educational institutions.
The concept of cyberbullying; fundamentally, it is not considered independent of technological developments. In this sense, cyber bullying is the simplest form of bullying by means of information communication technologies. Cyberbullying, conceptually; is defined as threatening, offending other individuals online via information communication tools such as cell phones, internet sites, blogs, chat rooms, e-mail and instant messaging or sending messages, pictures and videos containing sexual material to those individuals (Shariff, 2008). Cyberbullying takes place both as a part and result of the interactions in digital environments.
Cyberbullying behaviours are not only a problem for students, parents and teachers. It is also a matter of concern to administrators who are primarily responsible for solving problems that arise in educational institutions. School management can only be perceived as the fulfilment of the duties and responsibilities in the legislation. However, school administrators should also be concerned with students’ problems other than their academic problems at school. Administrators should be aware of new communication channels that arise with the intensive use of information technologies by students, and they should make every effort to minimize the disadvantages that students may face through these tools. It is important that cyberbullying be handled by school administrators like all other stakeholders. For this, further research is needed to obtain in-depth information about the causes, effects and measures of cyberbullying behaviour.
When the literature is reviewed, it is seen that more research is needed for the school administrators about raising awareness about cyberbullying behaviours and grievances that students face in Turkey. As an initial stage, awareness levels of administrators with significant roles in educational institutions related to cyberbullying behaviour should be known. It is thought that these works will be a guide for the damages caused by cyberbullying behaviours, programs to be developed to prevent victimization, activities, practices and legislative changes. Accordingly, it was aimed to investigate the level of awareness of the administrators who work in high schools about cyberbullying experiences.
The study which was carried out to investigate the awareness level of the administrators working in high schools related to cyberbullying was designed as a descriptive survey model of general survey models. Survey models aim to describe a situation that exists in the past or present. The subject, object or the phenomenon of the research is defined in its own terms and as it is. There is no attempt to change and affect them in any way (Karasar, 2012). In this study, cyberbullying behaviours as an event and situation were examined.
The participants of the study consist of 403 institution managers working in the official Anatolian High Schools affiliated to the Ministry of National Education in the 2017-2018 academic year. The convenience sampling method was used to determine the participants. The convenience sampling method is defined as taking the sample from a group of units who are easy to reach and work with (Büyüköztürk, Çakmak, Akgün, Karadeniz ve Demirel, 2010). Within the scope of the research, the Personal Information Form and the Cyber Bullying Awareness Survey developed by Serin (2012) were applied to the participants.
According to the findings of the study; It was found that 68.5% of high school administrators had previously heard the concept of cyberbullying and 53.1% of managers had known the definition of this concept. According to the findings obtained from the study, it was found that 68.5% of high school administrators had previously heard the concept of cyberbullying and 53.1% of administrators had known the definition of this concept. When administrators were asked to estimate the percentage of students studying between nine and twelve grades engaging in cyberbullying behaviours in their schools, this rate was found to be 54.1% for all administrators. In the same way, when the school administrators were asked to estimate the rate of cyber victimization of the students attending their schools, this rate was found to be 45.4% for the administrators. 58.6% of the school administrators stated that the behaviours related to cyberbullying were the highest in the tenth grade. 23.3% of the administrators stated that cyberbullying behaviours were the highest in the eleventh grade, 11.7% in the ninth grade and 6.5% in the twelfth year.
Discussion, Result and Suggestions
It is seen that 68.5% of the school administrators have already heard the concept of cyberbullying and 53.1% of the administrators know the definition of this concept. 54.1% of school administrators stated that they had witnessed that students in their schools had shown cyberbullying behaviours; 45.4% of the administrators stated that they had witnessed that their students had been the victims of cyberbullying and cyber victimization. These results overlap with some research results. It is seen that the percentage of awareness of cyberbullying increases in Turkey each year. In the study conducted by Serin (2012) on the level of cyberbullying awareness of middle school administrators, it was seen that 53.2% of the middle school administrators had previously heard of a concept of düzey cyberbullying. According to the Cyberbullying Awareness Survey of Ipsos (2018), 60% of individuals participating from Turkey have declared that they are aware of cyberbullying. According to the research results of Ipsos; According to the data (50%) in Turkey 2011, despite being seen an increase of about 10 percentage points compared with the average seen across the world in the awareness of cyberbullying it can be said that Turkey lags behind little. According to the results of the survey conducted with the participation of a total of 20,793 people from 28 countries, 75% of the individuals stated that they had witnessed, read or heard cyberbullying (Ipsos, 2018). When administrators were asked to estimate the percentage of students studying between nine and twelve grades engaging in cyberbullying behaviours in their schools, this rate was found to be 54.1% for all administrators. In the same way, when the school administrators were asked to estimate the rate of cyber victimization of the students attending their schools, this rate was found to be 45.4% for the administrators. This result does not coincide with the results of the research conducted for the students (Aboujaoude, Savage, Starcevic & Salame, 2015; Arıcak et al., 2008; Baker & Tanrıkulu, 2010; Eroğlu et al., 2015; Patchin & Hinduja, 2006; Patchin & Hinduja, 2012; Karabacak et al., 2015a; Karabacak et al., 2015b;Mishna et al, 2012; Özdemir & Akar, 2011; Peker, 2015). According to the results of the research by Akgül (2018), which was done with 1211 students who attend different high schools in Turkey, it was seen that the rate of cyberbullying was found to be 7.5%, cyber victimization rate was 14.9% and cyberbully / cyber victimization rate was 29.7%. It is observed that the estimates of the administrators working in high schools are above the rates obtained from the students.
58.6% of high school administrators stated that the behaviours related to cyberbullying were mostly seen in tenth-grade students. 23.3% of the administrators stated that cyberbullying behaviours were the highest in the eleventh grade, 11.7% in the ninth grade and 6.5% in the twelfth year. This result is partly overlapping with the results of the research carried out by (Pepler et al. 2006). According to Pepler et al. (2006), bullying tendencies are more prevalent in the transition period from middle school to high school and it is the lowest level in high school. According to the results of the research conducted by Semerci (2017), it was found that the class level that exhibited the most cyberbullying behaviour was the 12th grade. 12th grade was followed by 11th, 10th and 9th grade respectively. The findings of this study do not coincide with the results of some studies conducted to determine cyberbullying – victimization levels of high school students in the literature (Ayas & Horzum, 2012; Kağan & Ciminli, 2016; Kowalski & Limber, 2007; Williams & Guerra, 2007). There are also studies showing that there is no significant relationship between class levels and cyberbullying behaviours (Bayar, 2010;Baykal, 2016;Burnukara, 2009; Evegü,2014;Özdemir & Akar, 2011; Polat & Bayraktar, 2016; Sabancı, 2018; Slonje & Smith, 2008; Türkoğlu, 2013; Varjas, Henrich & Meyers 2009; Yaman & Sönmez, 2015).
Based on the results of the research, the following recommendations were developed:
- In-service training activities can be organized for school administrators to have sufficient awareness of cyberbullying.
- A consultation unit from which school administrators get help can be established for the protection of children from the dangers of digital environments.
- The level of cyberbullying awareness of administrators working at different levels of private schools can be investigated.
Keywords: School administrator, cyberbullying, cyberbully, cyber victim