The social support and self-esteem of victims of relational bullying
Westermann, Lauren DeLong
MetadataShow full item record
The present study investigated the perceived social support and self-esteem of third- through sixth-grade students (N= 264) who were victims of relational bullying. Students who were victims of direct types of bullying and those who were victims of both types of bullying (relational and direct) were also included in the investigation. The relationship among social support and self-esteem in victimized students (i.e., relational victims, direct victims, and relational/direct victims) was examined. Finally, the role of social support in protecting the self-esteem of victimized students was also investigated. Relational bullying, which was defined as repeated, unprovoked behavior intended to damage an individual’s social standing, includes behaviors like spreading rumors and excluding others from social groups. Despite its covert nature, relational bullying may have detrimental effects on adjustment and personal well-being similar to the effects of more overt types of bullying. Social support is the provision of emotional and material resources by family, friends, and other significant individuals in one’s life. Like selfesteem, social support is linked to many beneficial outcomes. Additionally, social support appears to have a beneficial and protective effect on self-esteem for those at risk for maladjustment. Contrary to expectations, results indicated that victims of relational bullying did not have lower social support and self-esteem than nonvictims. However, students who were the victims of both relational and direct types of bullying did have lower levels of social support and self-esteem than their nonvictimized peers. Correlations among social support and self-esteem scores indicated significant relationships among social support and self-esteem for female victims of relational bullying, but not males. Finally, total social support moderated the relationship among total (relational and direct) bullying and low self-esteem, but support from individual sources did not moderate the negative impact of relational bullying on specific facets of self-esteem. Future studies would benefit from investigating relational bullying and victimization as a construct distinct from other types of bullying.