Some studies reveal that adolescents with intellectual disabilities and developmental disabilities are more likely to be victims of both face-to-face bullying and cyberbullying. Research also suggests that these adolescents are likely to witness bullying victimization. More research is needed to better understand the negative outcomes associated with their experiences. The purpose of this short-term longitudinal study was to investigate the buffering effect of parental social support on the associations of cyberbullying victimization and bystanding to subjective health complaints, suicidal ideation, and non-suicidal self-harm. Participants were 121 adolescents (63% male; M age = 14.10 years) with intellectual disabilities and developmental disorders who completed questionnaires on their face-to-face and cyberbullying victimization and bystanding, parental social support, subjective health complaints, suicidal ideation, and non-suicidal self-harm during the 7th grade (Time 1). In 8th grade (Time 2), they completed questionnaires on subjective health complaints, suicidal ideation, and non-suicidal self-harm. The findings revealed that the positive associations between Time 1 cyberbullying victimization and Time 2 subjective health complaints, suicidal ideation, and non-suicidal self-harm were stronger at lower levels of Time 1 parental social support, while high levels of Time 1 parental social support diminished these relationships. Similar patterns were found for Time 1 cyberbullying bystanding and Time 2 subjective health complaints. Parental social support has a buffering effect on the relationships among cyberbullying victimization, bystanding, and health outcomes among adolescents with intellectual and developmental disorders.
Parental social support was related negatively to cyberbullying victimization.
Positive associations between cyberbullying victimization and subsequent subjective health complaints, suicidal ideation, and non-suicidal self-harm.
Parental social support diminished the positive relationships among cyberbullying victimization, subsequent subjective health complaints, suicidal ideation, and non-suicidal self-harm.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Baldry, A., & Farrington, D. (2005). Protective factors as moderators of risk factors in adolescence bullying. Social Psychology of Education, 8, 263–284. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11218-005-5866-5.
Barlinska, J., Szuster, A., & Winiewski, M. (2018). Cyberbullying among adolescent bystanders: role of affective versus cognitive empathy in increasing prosocial cyberbystander behavior. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 799. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.20188.00799.
Bauman, S., Toomey, R. B., & Walker, J. L. (2013). Associations among bullying, cyberbullying, and suicide in high school students. Journal of Adolescence, 36, 341–350. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2012.12.001.
Beckman, L., Hagquist, C., & Hellstrom, L. (2012). Does the association with psychosomatic health problems differ between cyberbullying and traditional bullying? Emotional and Behvioural Difficulties, 17(3–4), 421–434.
Camara, M., Bacigalupe, G., & Padilla, P. (2013). The role of social support in adolescents: are you helping me or stressing me out? International Journal of Adolescence and Youth. https://doi.org/10.1080/02673843.2013.875480.
Campbell, M., Spears, B., Slee, P., Butler, D., & Kift, S. (2012). Victims’ perceptions of traditional and cyberbullying and the psychosocial correlates of their victimization. Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 17(3–4), 389–401. https://doi.org/10.1080/13632752.2012.70431.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Suicidal thoughts and behaviors among adults aged 18 years — United States, 2008-2009. Surveillance Summaries, 60(SS13), 1–22.
Cohen, S., Underwood, L. G., & Gottlieb, B. H. (Eds.) (2000). Social support measurement and intervention: a guide for health and social scientist. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Davidson, L., & Demaray, M. (2007). Social support as a moderator between victimization and internalizing-externalizing distress from bullying. School Psychology Review, 36, 383–405.
Didden, R., Scholte, R. H. J., Korzilius, H., De Moor, J. M. H., Vermeulen, A., O’Reilly, M., Lang, R., & Lancioni, G. E. (2009). Cyberbullying among students with intellectual and developmental disability in special education settings. Developmental Neurorehabilitation, 12(3), 146–151. https://doi.org/10.1080/17518420902971356.
Domingo, M. C. (2012). An overview of the internet of things for people with disabilities. Journal of Network and Computer Applications, 35(2), 574–596. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnca.2011.10.015.
Ellonen, N., Kaariainen, J., & Autio, V. (2008). Adolescent depression and school social support: a multilevel analysis of a Finnish sample. Journal of Community Psychology, 36(4), 552–567. https://doi.org/10.1002/jcop.20254.
Evans, C. B. R., Smokowski, P., Rose, R. A., Mercado, M. C., & Marshall, K. J. (2018). Cumulative bullying experiences, adolescent behavior and mental health, and academic achievement: an integrative model of perpetration, victimization, and bystander behavior. Journal of Child and Family Studies. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-018-1078-4.
Fanti, K. A., Demetriou, A. G., & Hawa, V. V. (2012). A longitudinal study of cyberbullying: examining risk and protective factors. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 9, 168–181. https://doi.org/10.1080/17405629.2011.643169.
Fox, C. L., & Boulton, M. J. (2005). The social skills problems of victims of bullying: self, peer and teacher perceptions. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 75, 313–328. https://doi.org/10.1348/000709905X25517.
Galand, B., & Hospel, V. (2013). Peer victimization and school disaffection: exploring the moderation effect of social support and the mediation effect of depression. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 83, 569–590. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjep.2013.83.issue-4.
Grigg, D. W. (2010). Cyber-aggression: definition and concept of cyberbullying. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 20, 143–156. https://doi.org/10.1375/ajgc.20.2.143.
Hassett, M., Lowder, C., & Rutan, D. (1992). Use of computer network bulletin board systems by disabled persons. In Proceedings of the Annual Symposium on Computer Application in Medical Care (pp. 151–155). American Medical Informatics Association.
Haugland, S., & Wold, B. (2001). Subjective health complaints in adolescence—reliability and validity of survey methods. Journal of Adolescence, 24, 611–624. https://doi.org/10.1006/jado.2000.0393.
Heiman, T., Olenik-Shemsh, D., & Eden, S. (2015). Cyberbullying involvement among students with ADHD: relation to loneliness, self-efficacy and social support. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 30(1), 15–29. https://doi.org/10.1080/08856257.2014.943562.
Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (2008). Cyberbullying: an exploratory analysis of factors related to offending and victimization. Deviant Behavior, 29(2), 129–156.
Holt, M. K., & Espelage, D. L. (2007). Perceived social support among bullies, victims, and bully-victims. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36, 984–994. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-006-9153-3.
Hu, H., Chou, W., & Yen, C. (2016). Anxiety and depression among adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: the roles of behavioral temperamental traits, comorbid autism spectrum disorder, and bullying involvement. The Kaohsiung Journal of Medical Sciences, 32(2), 103–109. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.kjms.2016.01.002.
Hull, A. M. (2002). Neuroimaging findings in post-traumatic stress disorder: systematic review. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 181, 102–110.
John, A., Glendenning, A. C., Marchant, A., Montgomery, P., Stewart, A., Wood, S., Lloyd, K., & Hawton, K. (2018). Self-harm, suicidal behaviours, and cyberbullying in children and young people: systematic review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 20(4), e129. https://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.9044.
Kowalski, R. M., & Limber, S. P. (2007). Electronic bullying among middle school students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 41(6), S22–S30. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2007.08.017.
Kowalski, R. M., & Limber, S. P. (2013). Psychological, physical, and academic correlates of cyberbullying and traditional bullying. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53(Suppl 1), S13–S20. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.09.018.
Kuther, T. L. (1999). A developmental-contextual perspective on youth covictimization by community violence. Adolescence, 34, 699–714.
Laftman, S. B., Modin, B., & Ostberg, V. (2013). Cyberbullying and subjective health. A large-scale study of students in Stockholm, Sweden. Child & Youth Service Review, 35, 112–119. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2012.10.020.
Livingstone, S., Haddon, L., Görzig, A., & Ólafsson, K. (2011). Risks and safety on the internet: the perspective of European children. EU Kids Online.
Malecki, C. K., Demaray, M. K., Elliott, S. N., & Nolten, P. W. (1999). The child and adolescent social support scale. DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University.
Marini, Z., Dane, A., Bosacki, S., & Cura, Y. (2006). Direct and indirect bully-victims: differential psychosocial risk factors associated with adolescents involved in bullying and victimization. Aggressive Behavior, 32, 551–569. https://doi.org/10.1002/(ISSN)1098-2337.
Mesch, G. S. (2009). Parental mediation, online activities, and cyberbullying. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 12(4), 387–393. https://doi.org/10.1089/cpb.2009.0068.
Navarrro, R., Yubero, S., & Larranaga, E. (2015). Psychosocial risk factors for involvement in bullying behaviors: empirical comparison between cyberbullying and social bullying victims and bullies. School Mental Health, 7, 235–248. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12310-015-9157-9.
Rigby, K. (2000). Effects of peer victimization in schools and perceived social support on adolescent well-being. Journal of Adolescence, 23(1), 57–68. https://doi.org/10.1006/jadp.1999.0289.
Rivers, I., & Noret, N. (2013). Potential suicide ideation and its association with observing bullying at school. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53(1), S32–S36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.10.279.
Rivers, I., Poteat, V. P., Noret, N., & Ashurst, N. (2009). Observing bullying at school: the mental health implications of witness status. School Psychology Quarterly, 24, 211–223. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0018164.
Rothon, C., Head, J., Klineberg, E., & Stansfeld, S. (2011). Can social support protect bullied adolescents from adverse outcomes? A prospective study on the effects of bullying on the educational achievement and mental health of adolescents at secondary schools in East London. Journal of Adolescence, 34, 579–588. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2010.02.007.
Sansone, R. A., Wederman, M. W., & Sanson, L. A. (1998). The self-harm inventory (SHI): development of a scale of identifying self-destructive behaviors and borderline personality disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 54(7), 973–983. https://doi.org/10.1002/(SIC)1097-4679(1998811)54:73.0.C0;2-H.
Seltzer, R. (1995). Maintaining lynx to the internet for people with disabilities: a call for action. Information Technology and Disabilities, 2(3). http://itd.athenpro.org/volume2/number3/seltzer.html.
Sevcikova, A., & Smahel, D. (2009). Online harassment and cyberbullying in the Czech Republic: comparison across age groups. Journal of Psychology, 217(4), 227–229. https://doi.org/10.1027/0044-3409.217.4.227.
Smith, P. K., Mahdavi, J., Carvalho, M., Fisher, S., Russell, S., & Tippett, N. (2008). Cyberbullying: its nature and impact in secondary school pupils. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49, 376–385. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2007.01846.x.
Smokowski, P. R., Evans, C. B. R., & Cotter, K. L. (2014). The differential impacts of episodic, chronic, and cumulative physical bullying and cyberbullying: the effects of victimization on the school experiences, social support, and mental health of rural adolescents. Violence and Victims, 29, 1029–1046. https://doi.org/10.1891/0886-6708.VV-D-13-00076.
Soper, D. S. (2010). Interaction! http://www.danielsoper.com/Interaction/.
Sourander, A., Brunstein Klomek, A., Ikonen, M., Lindroos, J., Luntamo, T., Koskelainen, M., Ristkari, T., & Helenius, H. (2010). Psychosocial risk factors associated with cyberbullying among adolescents: a population-based study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 67(6), 720–728. https://doi.org/10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2010.79.
Tanigawa, D., Furlong, M. J., Felix, E. D., & Sharkey, J. D. (2011). The protective role of perceived social support against the manifestation of depressive symptoms in peer victims. Journal of School Violence, 10(4), 393–412. https://doi.org/10.1080/15388220.2011.602614.
Van Roekel, E., Scholte, R. H. J., & Didden, R. (2010). Bullying among adolescents with autism spectrum disorders: prevalence and perception. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40(1), 63–73. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-009-0832-2.
Velez, C. E., Krause, E. D., McKinnon, A., Brunwasser, S. M., Feres, D. R., Abenavoli, R. M., & Gillham, J. E. (2015). Social support seeking and early adolescent depression and anxiety symptoms: the moderating role of rumination. The Journal of Early Adolescence. https://doi.org/10.1177/0272431615594460.
Vieno, A., Gini, G., Lenzi, M., Pozzoli, T., Canale, N., & Santinello, M. (2015). Cybervicitmization and somatic and psychological symptoms among Italian middle school students. European Journal of Public Health, 25(3), 433–437. https://doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/cku191.
Wachs, S. (2012). Moral disengagement and emotional and social difficulties in bullying and cyberbullying: differences by participant role. Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 17, 347–360. https://doi.org/10.1080/13632752.2012.704318.
Walker, C., Sockman, B., & Koehn, S. (2011). An exploratory study of cyberbullying with undergraduate university students. Tech Trends, 55(2), 31–38. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-011-0481-0.
Wells, M., & Mitchell, K. J. (2014). Patterns of internet use and risk of online victimization for youth with and without disabilities. Journal of Special Education, 48(3), 204–213. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022466913479141.
Williams, T., Connolly, J., Pepler, D., & Craig, W. (2005). Peer victimization, social support, and psychosocial adjustment of sexual minority adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 34(5), 471–482.
Williams, K. R., & Guerra, N. G. (2007). Prevalence and predictors of Internet bullying. Journal of Adolescent Health, 41(6 Suppl 1), S14–S21.
Wright, M. F.(2015). Cyber victimization and adjustment difficulties: the mediation of Chinese and American adolescents’ digital technology usage. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research in Cyberspace, 9(1), article 7. https://doi.org/10.5817/CP2015-1-7.
Wright, M. F. (2016). Cyber victimization and depression among adolescents with intellectual disabilities and developmental disorders: the moderation of perceived social support. Journal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disabilities. https://doi.org/10.1080/19315864.2016.1271486.
Wright, M. F., & Li, Y. (2013). The association between cyber victimization and subsequent cyber aggression: the moderating effect of peer rejection. Journal of Youth & Adolescence, 42(5), 662–674. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-012-9903-3.
Wright, M. F., Li, Y., & Shi, J. (2014). Chinese adolescents’ social status goals: associations with behaviors and attributions for relational aggression. Youth & Society, 46(4), 566–588. https://doi.org/10.1177/0044118X12448800.
Wright, M. F., Wachs, S., & Harper, B. D. (2018). The moderation of empathy in the longitudinal association between witnessing cyberbullying, depression, and anxiety. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 12(4), article 6. https://doi.org/10.5817/CP2018-4-6.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
IRB approval was obtained from the Pennsylvania State University. Informed consent was obtained from participants in this study. APA standards were maintained throughout the completion of this study.
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Rights and permissions
About this article
Cite this article
Wright, M.F., Wachs, S. Parental Support, Health, and Cyberbullying among Adolescents with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. J Child Fam Stud 29, 2390–2401 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-020-01739-9
- Suicidal Ideation