Koehler-Hak, Kathrine

Committee Member

Bardos, Achilles N.


School Psychology


University of Northern Colorado

Type of Resources


Place of Publication

Greeley (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created





243 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


This study explored the perspectives and responses of school principals to cyberbullying incidents occurring at their schools. This was accomplished by qualitative methods of data collection and analysis, namely through in-depth interviews of six school principals working in large school districts in the Denver-metro area. The seven steps of the modified van Kaam method were used in this study to help portray the meanings of each participant’s experiences. The data were synthesized and extrapolated into the following five major emergent themes: (a) First, Gather the Facts; (b) Addressing the Incident; (c) Barriers to Preventing Cyberbullying, (d) Developing Partnerships; and (e) Building Safe Schools. Within the First, Gather the Facts theme, the principals stressed the need to collect information from multiple sources and validate the accuracy of that information by determining the nexus to the school and if the incident was truly cyberbullying and not just conflict. In the second emerging theme, Addressing the Incident, the principals expressed that during the investigation they provided support to the victim and sent the main message to their students--the bullying must stop. Within the Barriers to Prevention Cyberbullying theme, principals described the greatest barriers: technology, location, and anonymity. In the fourth emerging theme, Developing Partnerships, principals stressed the importance of working collaboratively with police, parents, and mental health professionals to better prevent and intervene with cyberbullying. Within the final emerging theme, Building Safe Schools, principals discussed how cyberbullying was mostly reported by students, state bullying policy was not a driving force in most of the principals’ actions, and all principals used a variety of programming for both intervention and prevention of cyberbullying. However, data based decisions were not commonly used to direct those efforts and all principals expressed the need to establish and maintain a positive school climate. It is essential that all school personnel know their roles in the prevention and intervention efforts of cyberbullying. Principals are the leaders of their school and key individuals to direct (cyber) bullying programming in their schools. The findings of this study might be used to shift cyberbullying research from awareness to action in three following ways: (a) help students and educators understand the differences between peer conflict and (cyber) bullying; (b) build a systematic multi-tiered approach to frame (cyber) bullying prevention and intervention efforts; and (c) given the state policy lack of depth and direction, district policy needs to help dictate the direction schools should take with their (cyber) bullying prevention and intervention efforts.

Degree type


Degree Name




Local Identifiers


Rights Statement

Copyright is held by author.