Longitudinal associations between cyber-bullying perpetration and victimization and problem behavior and mental health problems in young Australians

Abstract

Objectives

To investigate associations between Grade 9 and 10 cyber-bullying perpetration and victimization and Grade 11 problem behavior and mental health problems after controlling for risk factors for these outcomes in the analyses.

Methods

The sample comprised 927 students from Victoria, Australia who completed a modified version of the self-report Communities That Care Youth Survey in Grades 9–11 to report on risk factors, traditional and cyber-bullying perpetration and victimization, problem behavior, and mental health. Complete data on over 650 participants were analyzed.

Results

Five per cent of Grade 9 and 10 students reported cyber-bullying perpetration only, 6–8 % reported victimization only, and 8–9 % both cyber-bullied others and were cyber-bullied. Results showed that cyber-bullying others in Grade 10 was associated with theft in Grade 11, cyber-victimization in Grade 10 was linked with Grade 11 depressive symptoms, and Grade 10 cyber-bullying perpetration and victimization combined predicted Grade 11 school suspension and binge drinking.

Conclusions

Prevention approaches that target traditional and cyber-bullying, and established risk factors are necessary. Such multi-faceted programs may also reduce problem behavior and mental health problems.

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Acknowledgments

The authors are grateful for the financial support of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01-DA012140-05) for the International Youth Development Study, the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (R01AA017188-01) for analysis of the alcohol data, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC; project number, 491241) for analysis of the tobacco and cannabis data and the Australian Research Council for follow-up of the Victorian participants from 2006-2008 (DP0663371, DP0887350). The authors also acknowledge the receipt of infrastructure funding from the Victorian State Government through the Operational Infrastructure Support (OIS) Program by Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, the National Institutes of Health, or the other funding bodies. The authors wish to express their appreciation and thanks to project staff and participants for their valuable contribution to the project.

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Correspondence to Sheryl A. Hemphill.

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This article is part of the special issue “Communication Technology, Media Use and the Health of Our Kids”.

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Hemphill, S.A., Kotevski, A. & Heerde, J.A. Longitudinal associations between cyber-bullying perpetration and victimization and problem behavior and mental health problems in young Australians. Int J Public Health 60, 227–237 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00038-014-0644-9

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Keywords

  • Cyber-bullying
  • Longitudinal study
  • Problem behavior
  • Mental health problems
  • Longitudinal consequences