Date of Award

January 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Tracy Evanson


The purpose of this study was to construct a Grounded Theory that explains the processes involved in cyberbullying from the perspectives of those who have been victimized. A Constructivist Grounded Theory approach was used to explain the processes that occur as cyberbullying begins, unfolds, and ends, as well as to determine the methods that adolescent victims use to cope, and the context in which cyberbullying occurs.

Cyberbullying is a pervasive public health issue, affecting an estimated 10-30% of youth. Cyberbullying, though closely related to traditional physical bullying, has qualities that make it distinctive. Unlike traditional bullying, cyberbullying is relatively new in the literature and there are many elements of the phenomenon that we do not yet understand.

One-on-one, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 adolescent victims of cyberbullying. As a result of those interviews, a Grounded Theory titled Emerging from Cyberbullying was constructed and a theoretical model was developed. From these findings, we see that the victim moves through various stages during his/her experience. From Being Targeted, the victim becomes enveloped into a cyberbullying cycle that includes Being Cyberbullied, Losing Oneself, and Attempting to Cope. When the cyberbullying ceases, or the victim is no longer affected actively affected by it, he/she moves into a stage of Resolving and finally, Finding Oneself.

The findings from this study give hope that cyberbullying victims can arise from a cyberbullying experience feeling stronger and empowered to help others cope with cyberbullying victimization. Emerging from Cyberbullying gives us greater insight into the phenomenon of cyberbullying from the victims’ perspective and can be used to inform public health efforts aimed at preventing and intervening in cyberbullying behaviors.