This study explores recent cross-national trends over time (2002–2014) in the occurrence of victimization by bullying; then it documents the overlap between cybervictimization and traditional bullying in 2014 among adolescents in 37 countries.
Data from four cycles (2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014) of the cross-national Health Behavior in School-Aged Children study were included (N = 764,518). Trends in traditional victimization were evaluated using logistic regression models in 37 countries. Prevalence of cybervictimization and the overlap between cybervictimization and traditional victimization were estimated.
Linear decreases in bullying victimization were observed in 21 countries among boys, and in 12 countries among girls. The prevalence of cybervictimization was systematically lower than traditional victimization. Overall across all countries, 45.8% of those who reported cybervictimization also reported traditional victimization (46.5% for boys and 45.3% for girls), but wide country variations were observed.
These indicate the need for a more holistic perspective to intervention and prevention that considers all expressions of bullying, traditional or online. Public health programs and policies could focus on addressing bullying more broadly, rather than focusing on behaviors that happen in a particular context.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Antoniadou N, Kokkinos C (2015) A review of research on cyber-bullying in Greece. Int J Adolesc Youth 20(2):185–201. https://doi.org/10.1080/02673843.2013.778207
Arseneault L, Bowes L, Shakoor S (2010) Bullying victimization in youths and mental health problems: ‘much ado about nothing’? Psychol Med 40(05):717. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291709991383
Bannink R, Broeren S, van de Looij– Jansen PM, de Waart FG, Raat H (2014) Cyber and traditional bullying victimization as a risk factor for mental health problems and suicidal ideation in adolescents edited by Y. Xia. PLoS ONE 9(4):e94026. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0094026
Blais A, Julie J, Craig WM, Debra AE, Pepler A, Connolly J (2008) Adolescents online: the importance of internet activity choices to salient relationships. J Youth Adolesc 37(5):522–536. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-007-9262-7
Brochado S, Soares S, Fraga S (2017) A scoping review on studies of cyberbullying prevalence among adolescents. Trauma Violence Abus 18(5):523–531. https://doi.org/10.1177/1524838016641668
Cappadocia MC, Craig WM, Pepler D (2013) Cyberbullying. Can J School Psychol 28(2):171–192. https://doi.org/10.1177/0829573513491212
Chester KL, Callaghan M, Cosma A, Donnelly P, Craig WM, Walsh S, Molcho M (2015) Cross-national time trends in bullying victimization in 33 countries among children aged 11, 13 and 15 from 2002 to 2010. Eur J Public Health 25(suppl 2):61–64. https://doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/ckv029
Cosma A, Balázsi R, Băban A (2015) Time trends in bullying involvement among Romanian school aged children from 2006 to 2014. Procedia Soc Behav Sci 209:17–24
Cosma A, Whitehead R, Neville F, Currie D, Inchley J (2017) Trends in bullying victimization in Scottish adolescents 1994–2014: changing associations with mental well-being. Int J Public Health 62(6):639–646. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00038-017-0965-6
Creamer MR, Perry CL, Harrell MB, Diamond PM (2015) Trends in multiple tobacco product use, among high school students. Tob Regul Sci 1(3):204–214
Currie C, Inchley J, Molcho M, Lenzi M, Veselska Z, Wild F (2014) Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC) study protocol: background, methodology and mandatory items for the 2013/14 Survey—University of St Andrews. edited by W. F. Currie C, Inchley J, Molcho M, Lenzi M, Veselska Z. St Andrews: CAHRU, University of St Andrews
Espelage DL, Swearer SM (2011) Bullying in North American Schools, 2nd edn. Routledge, New York
Fisher HL, Moffitt TE, Houts RM, Belsky DW, Arseneault L, Caspi A (2012) Bullying victimisation and risk of self harm in early adolescence: longitudinal cohort study. BMJ (Clin Res Ed) 344:e2683
Hasebrink U (2014) Children’s changing online experiences in a longitudinal perspective. EU Kids Online, London, UK. http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/60083/
Hinduja S, Patchin JW (2008) Cyberbullying: an exploratory analysis of factors related to offending and victimization. Deviant Behav 29(2):129–156. https://doi.org/10.1080/01639620701457816
Jones LM, Mitchell KL, Finkelhor D (2013) Online harassment in context: trends from three youth internet safety surveys (2000, 2005, 2010). Psychol Violence 3(1):53. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0030309
Kowalski RM, Giumetti GW, Schroeder AN, Lattanner MR (2014) Bullying in the digital age: a critical review and meta-analysis of cyberbullying research among youth. Psychol Bull 140(4):1073–1137. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0035618
Kowalski RM, Limber SP, McCord A (2018) A developmental approach to cyberbullying: prevalence and protective factors. Violent Behav, Aggress. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.AVB.2018.02.009
Kubiszewski V, Fontaine R, Potard C, Auzoult C (2015) Does cyberbullying overlap with school bullying when taking modality of involvement into account? Comput Hum Behav 43:49–57. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.CHB.2014.10.049
Law DM, Shapka JD, Hymel S, Olson BF, Waterhouse T (2012) The changing face of bullying: an empirical comparison between traditional and internet bullying and victimization. Comput Hum Behav 28(1):226–232. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techsoc.2016.12.001
Lazuras L, Barkoukis V, Tsorbatzoudis H (2017) Face-to-face bullying and cyberbullying in adolescents: trans-contextual effects and role overlap. Technol Soc 48:97–101
Livingstone S, Mascheroni G, Staksrud E (2018) European research on children’s internet use: assessing the past and anticipating the future. New Media Soc 20(3):1103–1122. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444816685930
Mishna F, Khoury-Kassabri M, Gadalla T, Daciuk J (2012) Risk factors for involvement in cyber bullying: victims, bullies and bully–victims. Child Youth Serv Rev 34(1):63–70. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2011.08.032
Modecki KL, Minchin J, Harbaugh AG, Guerra NG, Runions KC (2014) Bullying prevalence across contexts: a meta-analysis measuring cyber and traditional bullying. J Adolesc Health 55(5):602–611. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2014.06.007
Moore SE, Norman RE, Suetani S, Thomas HJ, Sly PD, Scott JG (2017) Consequences of bullying victimization in childhood and adolescence: a systematic review and meta-analysis. World J Psychiatry 7(1):60–76. https://doi.org/10.5498/wjp.v7.i1.60
Olweus D (1997) Bully/victim problems in school: facts and intervention. Eur J Psychol Educ 12:495–510. https://doi.org/10.2307/23420286
Olweus D, Limber SP (2018) Some problems with cyberbullying research. Curr Opin Psychol 19:139–143. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2017.04.012
Przybylski AK, Bowes L (2017) Cyberbullying and adolescent well-being in England: a population-based cross-sectional study. Lancet Child Adolesc Health 1(1):19–26. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2352-4642(17)30011-1
Schnohr CW, Molcho M, Rasmussen M et al (2015) Trend analyses in the health behaviour in school-aged children study: methodological considerations and recommendations. Eur J Public Health 25(suppl 2):7–12. https://doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/ckv010
Sinclair KO, Bauman Poteat PV, Koenig B, Russell ST (2012) Cyber and bias-based harassment: associations with academic, substance use, and mental health problems. J Adolesc Health 50(5):521–523. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2011.09.009
Smith PK, Madsen KC, Moody JC (1999) What causes the age decline in reports of being bullied at school? towards a developmental analysis of risks of being bullied. Educ Res 41(3):267–285. https://doi.org/10.1080/0013188990410303
Smith PK, Mahdavi J, Carvalho M, Fisher S, Russell S, Tippett N (2008) Cyberbullying: its nature and impact in secondary school Pupils. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 49(4):376–385. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2007.01846.x
Smith PK, López-Castro L, Robinson S, Görzig A (2019) Consistency of gender differences in bullying in cross-cultural surveys. Aggress Violent Behav 45:33–40. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2018.04.006
Takizawa R, Maughan B, Arseneault L (2014) Adult health outcomes of childhood bullying victimization: evidence from a five-decade longitudinal British birth cohort. Am J Psychiatry 171(7):777–784. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2014.13101401
Turner MG, Exum ML, Brame R, Holt TJ (2013) Bullying victimization and adolescent mental health: general and typological effects across sex. J Crim Justice 41(1):53–59. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2012.12.005
Vaillancourt T, Brittain HL, McDougall P, Duku E (2013) Longitudinal links between childhood peer victimization, internalizing and externalizing problems, and academic functioning: developmental cascades. J Abnorm Child Psychol 41(8):1203–1215. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-013-9781-5
Vessey J, Strout TD, DiFazio RL, Walker A (2014) Measuring the youth bullying experience: a systematic review of the psychometric properties of available instruments. J School Health 84(12):819–843. https://doi.org/10.1111/josh.12210
Vieno A, Lenzi M, Gini G, Pozzoli T, Cavallo F, Santinello M (2015) Time trends in bullying behavior in Italy. J School Health 85(7):441–445. https://doi.org/10.1111/josh.12269
Waasdorp TE, Pas ET, Zablotsky B, Bradshaw CP (2017) Ten-year trends in bullying and related attitudes among 4th-to 12th-graders. Pediatrics 139(6):20162615. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2016-2615
Wegge D, Vandebosch H, Eggermont S (2014) Who bullies whom online: a social network analysis of cyberbullying in a school context. Communications 39(4):415–433. https://doi.org/10.1515/commun-2014-0019
Wood MA, Bukowski WM, Lis E (2016) The digital self: how social media serves as a setting that shapes youth’s emotional experiences. Adolesc Res Rev 1(2):163–173. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40894-015-0014-8
Ybarra ML, West MD, Leaf PJ (2007) Examining the overlap in internet harassment and school bullying: implications for school intervention. J Adolesc Health 41(6):S42–S50. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2007.09.004
The Canadian HBSC study is financially supported by the Public Health Agency of Canada (Contract Number CD016-123071-001/SS). HBSC Ireland was funded by the Health Promotion Policy Unit, Department of Health, Ireland. There was no involvement in the conduct of the research or preparation of the article by the study funders.
Consent procedures required by ethical authorities for this type of survey were followed by each individual country. Institutional ethical consent was gained according to the requirements in each participating country, with schools, parents, and adolescents each providing informed consent or assent, either active or passive according to local requirements. Only those adolescents who volunteered to participate and whose parents did not object to their participation were included in the current study.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in this study.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Cosma, A., Walsh, S.D., Chester, K.L. et al. Bullying victimization: time trends and the overlap between traditional and cyberbullying across countries in Europe and North America. Int J Public Health 65, 75–85 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00038-019-01320-2