Study shows overlap between cyberbullying and traditional bullying

In a study by Waasdorp and Bradshaw on data collected from 28104 adolescents in 58 American High schools, the researchers examined the overlap between cyberbullying and (more) traditional bullying (be it relational, physical, or verbal). Most cyberbullying occurred within the context of a social networking site, which suggests the perpetrator is within the same online social network. Interestingly enough only a small group of the pupils reported being bullied online only:

“…most victims of cyberbullying also reported that they experienced at least one form of traditional bullying; this suggests that if an adolescent is experiencing cyberbullying there is a good chance that he/she is also experiencing other forms of bullying.”

In short:

  • 23% were victims of any form of bullying (cyber, relational, physical, and verbal) during the last month.
  • 25.6% of those victims reporting being cyberbullied.
  • 4.6% of victims reported being only cyberbullied.
  • Cyberbullied youth typically believed the perpetrator was a friend.
  • Cyberbullied youth had increased odds of being relationally bullied.
  • Cyberbullied youth had increased odds for externalizing and internalizing symptoms.

Abstract of the study:

Cyberbullying appears to be on the rise among adolescents due in part to increased access to electronic devices and less online supervision. Less is known about how cyberbullying differs from traditional bullying which occurs in person and the extent to which these two forms overlap. Our first aim was to examine the overlap of traditional bullying (relational, verbal, and physical) with cyberbullying. The second aim examined student- and school-level correlates of cyber victimization as compared to traditional victims. The final aim explored details of the cyberbullying experience (e.g., who sent the message, how was the message sent, and what was the message about).

Data came from 28,104 adolescents (grades, 9–12) attending 58 high schools.

Approximately 23% of the youth reported being victims of any form of bullying (cyber, relational, physical, and verbal) within the last month, with 25.6% of those victims reporting being cyberbullied. The largest proportion (50.3%) of victims reported they were victimized by all four forms, whereas only 4.6% reported being only cyberbullied. Multilevel analyses indicated that as compared to those who were only traditionally bullied, those who were cyberbullied were more likely to have externalizing (odds ratio = 1.44) and internalizing symptoms (odds ratio = 1.25). Additional analyses examined detailed characteristics of the cyberbullying experiences, indicating a relatively high level of overlap between cyber and traditional bullying.

Implications for preventive interventions targeting youth involved with cyberbullying and its overlap with other forms of bullying are discussed.

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Filed under Education, Research, Social Media, Youngsters

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