Margot is a 15 year old student who attends the school in which you are the school psychologist. Margot has been referred to you based on concerns by her teachers and parents. Margot’s grades have been steadily declining. She has not been engaging in class or completing class activities and tasks. Her parents and teachers report that she is becoming withdrawn, not spending time with friends. After talking with Margot, is becomes clear that she is suffering from depression and anxiety. After a number of sessions, Margot finally reveals to you that she is a victim of cyberbullying and the perpetrators are other students at the school.
According to Barlińska, Szuster and Winiewski (2013), cyberbullying can be distinguished from traditional bullying in the following way:
“In the context of adolescents, bullying is defined as the intentional, negative actions of one or more pupils over an extended period, involving repeated, direct attacks on another student who, due to the perpetrator’s advantage (whether physical or psychological), is unable to defend himself or herself.”
Cyberbullying is then “violence committed by perpetrators and bystanders using information and communication technologies and various functionalities of the Internet, especially messaging software and social networking services.”
Whilst traditional bullying involves two roles (the bully and the victim), cyberbullying
involves three roles of the bully, the victim and the bystander.
“From this point of view, cyberbullying committed via instant messengers and social networking services can be regarded as a group phenomenon in which young Internet users are either intentionally or unintentionally involved in bullying as active or inactive bystanders”.
Most common forms of cyberbullying include verbal bullying and the dissemination of derisory or defamatory images or videos.
Based on your knowledge of psychological treatments, what treatment would you advise as most appropriate for Margot? In your answer you need to define and explain the treatment option. Drawing on comparisons to at least one other treatment option, justify why the chosen option is the best fit. Draw on examples specific to the case. Finally, discuss implications for Margot’s motivation to comply with treatment by drawing on your knowledge of motivation theories.
The definition of cyberbullying emphasises the important additional role of the bystander in facilitating the perpetration and impact of cyberbullying on their victims. This form of bullying therefore represents a social phenomenon. Drawing on your knowledge of group processes, including in-group/out-group attitude formation, discuss why the bystander role is an important influence on the perpetrator-victim relationship in cyberbullying context.
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