Article

Cyberbullying and Its Relationship to Current Symptoms and History of Early Life Trauma: A Study of Adolescents in an Acute Inpatient Psychiatric Unit

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Abstract

Background: Cyberbullying has received wide media attention and appears to be linked to frequent adverse consequences, with multiple suicides reported. This study examined the prevalence of cyberbullying among adolescent psychiatric inpatients and related it to social media usage, current levels of symptoms, and histories of adverse early life experience. Methods: Data on the prevalence of social media utilization and cyberbullying victimization were collected from adolescent psychiatric inpatients aged 13 to 17 years from September 2016 to April 2017. Fifty adolescent psychiatric inpatients completed 2 surveys assessing childhood trauma (the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children and the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire) and the Cyberbullying Questionnaire. Results: Twenty percent of participants (10/50) had been victimized by cyberbullying. Access to and engagement in social media or Internet-based communication was extremely common, with most participants engaging on a daily basis or more frequently in at least 1 social media activity. Those who had been bullied endorsed significantly higher scores on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anger, and fantasy dissociation scales than those who were not bullied (all P values < .05). Subjects who reported having been victims of cyberbullying endorsed significantly higher levels of lifetime emotional abuse on the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire than those who were not bullied (P = .013); however, they did not report a significantly higher level of the other types of trauma (physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional neglect, or physical neglect). More bullied than nonbullied subjects had clinically and statisticallysignificant elevations in hyperresponse, PTSD, and depression scale scores (P < .05). Conclusions: Being cyberbullied was associated with greater psychiatric symptom severity. Further, histories of emotional abuse were correlated with recent cyberbullying. These data suggest that individuals with histories of childhood trauma also seem vulnerable to continued adverse experiences during adolescence.

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... The three types of early life abuse measured with the childhood trauma questionnaire (CTQ): sexual, emotional, and physical abuse (Bernstein et al., 1994;1997, may have different implications for later-life physical and mental health outcomes. For instance, in a study of newly admitted adolescent inpatients, a history of emotional abuse, but not physical or sexual abuse, correlated with being cyberbullied immediately before admission to an inpatient psychiatric unit (Saltz et al., 2020). Likewise, in a study on the risk of developing PTSD in the immediate aftermath of trauma (Gould et al., 2021), the total severity of early life trauma, as measured by the total CTQ score, was associated with risk for the development of PTSD following this additional A c c e p t e d M a n u s c r i p t 6 traumatic experience. ...
Article
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... In addition to enhancing adolescents' awareness of risks associated with social media use, scaffolding the development of problem-solving skills and communication about online experiences to trusted individuals has become increasingly important. Communication about cyber-victimization is particularly important, due to it affecting nearly 20% of adolescents (Baiden et al., 2020;Saltz et al., 2020). Even though most adolescents report that receiving support from friends and family is helpful for dealing with cyber-victimization (Fanti et al., 2012), they frequently avoid disclosure due to fear that it won't actually help or that they may lose the opportunity to continue using social media (Makri-Botsari & Karagiannioften, 2014;Mishna et al., 2009). ...
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Adolescents frequently use social media to connect with peers, develop friendships, and explore their identity. However, some adolescents, particularly those with co-occurring mental health concerns or other vulnerabilities, may experience problems or dysfunction related to their social media use. Navigating online social interactions, regulating one’s own use of social media, and being aware of how content of social media may impact users are important skills that youth need to build in today’s digital age. The purpose of this paper is to describe the rationale for, and components of, a group therapy intervention (Developing Healthy Social Media Practices) for caregivers and their adolescents that seeks to (a) provide psychoeducation about the risks and benefits of social media use; (b) teach youth and their caregivers online social problem solving skills; (c) facilitate caregiver-adolescent communication about online social interactions and other online risks; and (d) promote motivation to change social media practices that youth and their caregivers identify as impacting functioning.
... Previous literature has suggested risk factors for depression in adolescents, of which fixed risk factors are composed of parental mental health problems (Ghandour et al., 2019), parental socioeconomic position (Joinson et al., 2017), sexual minorities (Irish et al., 2019), and childhood maltreatment (Gallo et al., 2017), physical factors include chronic pain (Noel et al., 2016) and sedentary behavior (Kandola et al., 2020), psychological factors involve anxiety, trauma exposure (Nesvag et al., 2018), substance abuse, sleep problems, as well as personality features (Hauenstein, 2003). Social and environmental risk factors consist of bullying victimization (Jadambaa et al., 2019), cyberbullying (Saltz et al., 2020), hostile family environments (Wahid et al., 2021), violence (El-Khodary and Samara, 2020), and various stressful life events (Shapero et al., 2019) in adolescents. Accordingly, it is required to conduct further research on the impact factors of adolescent depression. ...
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Adolescent depression is becoming a public health problem. In this study the association between depressive symptoms and internet usage time in adolescents was examined, with data collected from the China Education Tracking Survey (CEPS). The survey is publicly available and carried out nationwide. A logistic regression analysis was conducted with odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI), the subgroup analysis examined the relationships between internet usage time and depressive symptoms. A total of 10705 adolescents were involved, where 46.4% of them are caught by the internet for more than two hours per day. Adolescents keeping on the internet for 6-8 hours per day were reported to have higher odds of depressive symptoms than adolescents who were free from it with the confounders of individual, family, and school adjusted, which were observed among groups with a medium family economic status without living with their father and with a sleep time less than nine hours. The results revealed that adolescents spending more time online had a higher risk of experiencing depression symptoms. This study suggested that it is helpful for mental health professionals to evaluate and develop prevention interventions for depressive symptoms in adolescents promptly through monitoring and managing online time.
... The three types of early life abuse measured with the childhood trauma questionnaire (CTQ): physical, emotional, and sexual abuse (Bernstein et al., 1994;, may have different implications for later-life physical and mental health outcomes. For instance, in a study of newly admitted adolescent inpatients, a history of emotional abuse, but not physical or sexual abuse, correlated with being cyberbullied immediately before admission to an inpatient psychiatric unit (Saltz et al., 2020). Likewise, in a study of risk for developing PTSD in the immediate aftermath of trauma (Gould et al., 2021), the total severity of early life trauma, as measured by the total CTQ score, was associated with risk for the development of PTSD following this additional traumatic experience. ...
Full-text available
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Background Early life adversity such as childhood emotional, physical, and sexual trauma is associated with a plethora of later-life psychiatric and chronic medical conditions, including elevated inflammatory markers. Although previous research suggests a role for chronic inflammatory dysfunctions in several disease etiologies, specific associations between childhood trauma types and later life inflammation and health status are not well understood. Methods We studied patients (n=280) who were admitted to a psychiatric rehabilitation center. Self-reported histories of childhood emotional, physical, and sexual trauma history were collected. At the time of admission, we also assessed individuals’ body mass index (BMI) and collected blood samples that were used to examine levels of inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP). Results The prevalence of all three types of abuse were quite high, at 21% or more. 50% of the sample had elevations in CRP, with clinically significant elevations in 26%. We found that compared to a history of emotional or physical abuse, a history of childhood sexual trauma was more specifically associated with elevated CRP. This result held up when controlling for BMI. Limitation Our sample is relatively young, with an average age of 27.2 years, with minimal representation of ethnic and racial minority participants. Conclusion Relative to childhood emotional and physical trauma, childhood sexual trauma may lead to elevated inflammatory responses, which were common overall in the sample. Future studies need to assess the causal link between childhood sexual trauma and poorer health outcomes later in life. HIGHLIGHTS - The prevalence of both childhood abuse experiences and elevations in inflammatory markers were quite high. - We found that the history and severity of childhood sexual abuse were differentially correlated with later life inflammatory status and body mass index, with childhood emotional and physical abuse not showing the same degree of correlation with inflammatory status later in early adulthood. - These results demonstrate how specific elements of environmental adversity, which, when suffered at a critical developmental period, can have lingering negative physiological consequences later in life.
... Some of these acts are sometimes more serious than others. They have contributed to sexual exploitation, nonconsensual production, and posting of intimate visual images and coercion that will lead to self-harm and suicide of victims (Myers & Cowie, 2019;Saltz et al., 2020). Revenge porn refers to sexually explicit images that are circulated without the subject's consent. ...
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Chapter
Widespread technology use has opened the door to alternative forms of aggression and victimization, such as cyberbullying. This type of bullying poses specific risks, since it can occur anytime and in different contexts, as well as being anonymous and with capacity to reach a wide audience and be less visible to adults. Several individual and contextual factors have been identified as protective and risk factors, and potential impacts in mental health (as either externalizing or internalizing problems, as well as impairment in functioning) are well documented. Awareness of cyberbullying is key to a proper assessment of this problem, which needs to address a number of areas, including understanding the type of cyberbullying, family and school factors, and mental health. Early intervention is needed when bullying is recognized, as well as preventative strategies and therapeutic interventions, which may take place at an individual level, or involve home and school. Clinical and policy implications are discussed.
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Background Neglect is a highly prevalent, yet historically understudied form of maltreatment. Recent research has revealed the far reaching and unique effects that neglect has on subsequent cognitive, behavioural and socio-emotional development, and on long-term physical and mental health outcomes. Adolescent interpersonal functioning is important to explore given the significant relational transitions that occur during this stage of development, and the known impact that these social changes can have on future life outcomes. Objective This systematic review synthesises the literature exploring the relationship between neglect and adolescent interpersonal functioning in peer relationships. Methods Seven databases and three grey literature sites were systematically searched, and identified records screened against inclusion criteria. Results Twenty-one articles were included in the final sample, exploring five different indicators of adolescent interpersonal functioning. Around half of the papers investigating quality of peer relationships found that neglect, particularly emotional neglect, is associated with reduced relationship quality, and there is consistent evidence that neglect increases the risk of gang involvement and deviant peer affiliation. Conclusions These findings may be used to strengthen a trauma-informed approach to work with adolescents. Research on neglect and adolescent romantic relationships is sparse. Overall, the literature is varied and further research using longitudinal data and consistent measures of neglect would be of value.
Chapter
With the explosion of social networks, the web has been transformed into an arena of inappropriate interactions and content, such as fake news and misinformation, deception, hate speech, inauthentic online behaviour, proselytism, slander, and mobbing. In this demo we present Chattack, a first step towards our aim of providing publicly available datasets for accelerating research in the area of safer online conversations. Chattack is a crowd-sourcing web platform that allows the creation of textual dialogues containing inappropriate interactions or language. To make the platform sustainable and collect as many qualitative dialogues as possible, we build upon a gamified approach that can engage users and provide incentives for the completion of various tasks. We provide the details of our approach, present the functionality of the platform, stress its novel features, and discuss some preliminary results and the lessons learned. The platform is publicly available and we invite the participation of the community for its growth.
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