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An Investigation of Short-Term Longitudinal Associations Between Social Anxiety and Victimization and Perpetration of Traditional Bullying and Cyberbullying

Abstract

Previous research has suggested that social anxiety is associated with victimization and perpetration of (cyber)bullying. The direction and causality of this relationship has not yet been empirically supported for both traditional and cyberbullying involvement. This study examined short-term longitudinal associations between feelings of social anxiety and involvement in traditional bullying and cyberbullying among 2128 adolescents aged 10–17 (56.6 % girls). A cross-lagged panel analysis provided evidence for the contribution of social anxiety to later victimization of bullying, both on- and off-line. The possibility of a reciprocal relationship was also examined, although it was not supported. Furthermore, longitudinal bidirectional relationships between social anxiety and the perpetration of bullying were investigated. Only one significant longitudinal association was found: the perpetration of traditional bullying predicted subsequent higher levels of social anxiety. The implications of these findings are discussed.

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Author contributions

In order to give appropriate credit to each author of the article, we would like to specify the individual contributions. HV conceived of the study, participated in its design and interpretation of the data, and helped to draft the manuscript. SP participated in the design of the study and the data collection, performed the statistical analyses and drafted the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standard

Ethical issues were considered in the various phases of the present study. Before the data collection, our longitudinal study among adolescents was approved by the review board of our institution, which seeks advice from internal and external reviewers. In preparation of the collection, the staff members at the selected schools were provided with information regarding the study and were asked to cooperate. Participating schools delivered an informational letter describing the research to the students, and (passive) consent was obtained from their parents. We believe that our work follows the APA General Principles and Ethical Standards.

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Correspondence to Sara Pabian.

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Pabian, S., Vandebosch, H. An Investigation of Short-Term Longitudinal Associations Between Social Anxiety and Victimization and Perpetration of Traditional Bullying and Cyberbullying. J Youth Adolescence 45, 328–339 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-015-0259-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-015-0259-3

Keywords

  • Traditional bullying
  • Cyberbullying
  • Social anxiety
  • Adolescents
  • Cross-lagged panel model