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A longitudinal study of the social and emotional predictors and consequences of cyber and traditional bullying victimisation

Abstract

Objectives

Few longitudinal studies have investigated how cyberbullying interacts with traditional bullying among young people, who are increasingly using online environments to seek information, entertainment and to socialise. This study aimed to identify the associations between the relative contribution of cyberbullying victimisation and traditional bullying victimisation on social and emotional antecedents and outcomes among adolescents.

Methods

Participants were a cohort of 1,504 adolescents from 16 Australian schools followed from age 13 to 15 years.

Results

Adolescents experiencing social and emotional difficulties were more likely to be cyberbullied and traditionally bullied, than traditionally bullied only. Those targeted in both ways experienced more harm and stayed away from school more often than those traditionally bullied only.

Conclusions

These findings suggest a high coexistence of cyber and traditional bullying behaviours and their antecedents, and higher levels of harm from a combination of these behaviours for adolescents over time. Future research should engage students as co-researchers to enhance school and parent strategies to support adolescents experiencing difficulties, and to reduce the likelihood of both cyber and traditional bullying.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the school staff who coordinated and supported the Cyber Friendly Schools Project study, and the students who participated in the research. We acknowledge the study’s investigators and the many Child Health Promotion Research Centre staff and volunteers who contributed to this project from 2010 to 2012. The study was supported by the Western Australian Health Promotion Foundation (Healthway; research grant 18940).

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Correspondence to Donna Cross.

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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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Cross, D., Lester, L. & Barnes, A. A longitudinal study of the social and emotional predictors and consequences of cyber and traditional bullying victimisation. Int J Public Health 60, 207–217 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00038-015-0655-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00038-015-0655-1

Keywords

  • Cyberbullying
  • Traditional bullying
  • Victimisation
  • Cyberbullying perpetration
  • Social and emotional wellbeing
  • Adolescence