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Bullying and Cyberbullying: Definition, Prevalence Rates, Risk/Protective Factors, and Interventions

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Mental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2023) | Viewed by 50379

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Psychology, University of Bologna, 40127 Bologna, Italy
Interests: preterm birth; language development; academic achievement; bullying and cyberbullying
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Faculty of Education, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, 39042 Brixen-Bressanone, Italy
Interests: bullying; cyberbullying; mental health in childhood and in adolescence; psychological wellbeing
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
College of Education, Psychology and Social Work, Flinders University, Adelaide 5001, Australia
Interests: bullying; cyberbullying; well-being

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
College of Education, Psychology and Social Work, Flinders University, Adelaide 5001, Australia
Interests: bullying; cyberbullying; well-being

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are organizing a Special Issue titled Bullying and Cyberbullying: Definition, Prevalence Rates, Risk/Protective Factors, and Interventions in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The journal is a peer-reviewed scientific publication that publishes articles and communications in the interdisciplinary area of environmental health sciences and public health. For detailed information about the journal, we refer you to https://www.mdpi.com/journal/ijerph.

Bullying and cyberbullying are widespread global problems with prevalence rates estimated at 35% for bullying and 15% for cyberbullying. Both phenomena are considered serious public health issues due to their negative impact on students’ well-being. Indeed, the students involved show symptoms of depression and anxiety, negative social relationships, and internalizing problems, with an increased risk of suicidal ideation as a function of the frequency of aggressions. Given the significance of bullying and cyberbullying in society, several studies have analysed what factors can act as risk or protective factors in the involvement of the phenomena, addressing the importance of adopting an ecological framework. The analysis of risk and protective factors is particularly relevant in tailoring interventions, which have been described by several studies—especially in school contexts.

This Special Issue aims to document research on bullying and cyberbullying, analysing their definition from a perspective that seeks to include students, teachers, educators, and parents’ voices. Cross-national comparisons are appreciated, in order to compare different incidence rates and sequelae among countries by analysing common and specific characteristics of both phenomena. In addition, research on the analysis of risk and protective factors is welcome, allowing a more complex view of bullying and cyberbullying and taking into account individual and socio-family factors. We also welcome contributions describing evidence-based interventions across the globe which have been implemented in schools and other educational contexts from childhood to late adolescence.

Prof. Dr. Annalisa Guarini
Prof. Dr. Antonella Brighi
Dr. Grace Skrzypiec
Prof. Dr. Phillip T. Slee
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • bullying
  • cyberbullying
  • interventions
  • schools
  • adolescence
  • psychological well-being

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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12 pages, 479 KiB  
Article
Adolescent Cyberbullies’ Attributions: Longitudinal Linkages to Cyberbullying Perpetration
by Michelle F. Wright
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(12), 6083; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20126083 - 8 Jun 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1919
Abstract
The aim of the present study was to examine cyberbullies’ attributions pertaining to their perpetration of cyberbullying, and how such attributions relate to their cyberbullying behaviors six months later. Participants were 216 adolescents (M = 13.46, SD = 0.62 years; 55% female) [...] Read more.
The aim of the present study was to examine cyberbullies’ attributions pertaining to their perpetration of cyberbullying, and how such attributions relate to their cyberbullying behaviors six months later. Participants were 216 adolescents (M = 13.46, SD = 0.62 years; 55% female) from the suburbs of a large Midwestern city in the United States. They were interviewed face-to-face in the fall of 2018 concerning why they acted in negative ways toward peers online or through text messages. They also answered questionnaires regarding how often they perpetrated face-to-face bullying and cyberbullying during the fall of 2018 and spring of 2019. The attributions of revenge, convenience, anger, and anonymity each predicted cyberbullying at the second time point while controlling for face-to-face bullying perpetration. Results from this study provide important information to the literature regarding cyberbullies’ attributions for perpetrating cyberbullying, and how such attributions predict future cyberbullying perpetration. These findings are important for the development of antibullying programs that might aim to change adolescents’ attributions for cyberbullying perpetration to reduce continued engagement in these behaviors. Full article
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13 pages, 731 KiB  
Article
The Long-Term Efficacy and Sustainability of the Tabby Improved Prevention and Intervention Program in Reducing Cyberbullying and Cybervictimization
by Anna Sorrentino, Francesco Sulla, Margherita Santamato, Annarosa Cipriano and Stefania Cella
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(8), 5436; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20085436 - 7 Apr 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1798
Abstract
Although cyberbullying and cybervictimization prevention programs have proved effective in the short term, their effectiveness remains unclear in the long run. Thus, the present study evaluated the long-term effects of the Tabby Improved Prevention and Intervention Program (TIPIP). Participants were 475 middle and [...] Read more.
Although cyberbullying and cybervictimization prevention programs have proved effective in the short term, their effectiveness remains unclear in the long run. Thus, the present study evaluated the long-term effects of the Tabby Improved Prevention and Intervention Program (TIPIP). Participants were 475 middle and high school students (Mage = 12.38; SD = 1.45; F = 241, 51%), of whom, 167 were in the Experimental Group (EG; Mage = 13.15; SD = 1.52; M = 51.5%), and 308 were in the Control Group (CG; Mage = 13.47; SD = 1.35; M = 47.7%). Students completed measures assessing cyberbullying and cybervictimization at three time points: baseline (T1), immediately after the intervention (6 months, T2), and at 1 year (T3). The results showed no significant effects of the TIPIP in reducing both cyberbullying and cybervictimization over time. Overall, our results confirm the lack of effectiveness of long-term preventive programs and emphasize that different curricula should be implemented in future programs to prevent and manage cyberbullying and cybervictimization, also taking into account psychological mechanisms and processes involved in such behaviors. Full article
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11 pages, 331 KiB  
Article
Adolescent–Caregiver Agreement Regarding the School Bullying and Cyberbullying Involvement Experiences of Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder
by Tai-Ling Liu, Yi-Lung Chen, Ray C. Hsiao, Hsing-Chang Ni, Sophie Hsin-Yi Liang, Chiao-Fan Lin, Hsiang-Lin Chan, Yi-Hsuan Hsieh, Liang-Jen Wang, Min-Jing Lee, Wen-Jiun Chou and Cheng-Fang Yen
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(4), 3733; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20043733 - 20 Feb 2023
Viewed by 1817
Abstract
School bullying and cyberbullying victimization and perpetration are prevalent in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (AASD). However, the levels of adolescent–caregiver agreement regarding the bullying involvement of AASD and the factors associated with these levels remain to be evaluated. In the present study, [...] Read more.
School bullying and cyberbullying victimization and perpetration are prevalent in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (AASD). However, the levels of adolescent–caregiver agreement regarding the bullying involvement of AASD and the factors associated with these levels remain to be evaluated. In the present study, we evaluated the levels of adolescent–caregiver agreement on the school bullying and cyberbullying involvement experiences of AASD and the factors associated with the levels of agreement. This study included 219 dyads of AASD and their caregivers. The school bullying and cyberbullying involvement experiences of the participating AASD were assessed using the School Bullying Experience Questionnaire and the Cyberbullying Experiences Questionnaire, respectively. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), depressive and anxiety symptoms, and autistic social impairment were also assessed. AASD and their caregivers had poor to fair levels of agreement regarding the school bullying and cyberbullying victimization and perpetration experiences of AASD. Severe inattention, hyperactivity–impulsivity, ODD, depressive and anxiety symptoms, and autistic social impairment were associated with high levels of adolescent–caregiver agreement. When assessing the bullying involvement experiences of AASD, mental health professionals should obtain information from multiple sources. In addition, the factors influencing the levels of agreement should be considered. Full article
19 pages, 1630 KiB  
Article
Digital Media Used in Education: The Influence on Cyberbullying Behaviors among Youth Students
by Omar A. Alismaiel
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(2), 1370; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20021370 - 12 Jan 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 6659
Abstract
Students, colleagues, and other members of society are increasingly using digital media. Students utilize digital media for a variety of reasons, including communication, gaming, making new friends, and simply being curious. However, there are some disadvantages to using digital media. Cyberbullying, cyberharassment, and [...] Read more.
Students, colleagues, and other members of society are increasingly using digital media. Students utilize digital media for a variety of reasons, including communication, gaming, making new friends, and simply being curious. However, there are some disadvantages to using digital media. Cyberbullying, cyberharassment, and cyberstalking are examples of useful digital media activities that can have a negative impact on digital media users and lead to societal issues. Surprisingly, limited studies have investigated cyberbullying in depth, utilizing a broad and varied sample of Middle Eastern institutions. As a result, the purpose of this study is to fill a research vacuum by questioning students’ use of digital media for cyber involvement. This research aims to create a model for assessing the ethical consequences of behaviors that directly impact students’ psychological health because of their use of digital media. The questionnaire looked at how people used digital media to engage in cyberbullying and cyber engagement, the ethical implications of bullying, and being harassed, stalked, and bullied. The study employed a quantitative questionnaire to collect data to achieve the research goal. It was given to 1012 students who are digital media users. Partial least squares (PLS) and structural equation modeling (SEM) were used to examine the data. Considering the empirical data, nearly half of the participants admitted to being harassed, stalked, or bullied on different digital platforms. The evaluation of discriminant validity is a prerequisite factor for examining possible variables’ relationships. The goodness-of-fit index indicates that the model is well-fit. Through the established model, decision-makers and school administration would be able to implement measures that would effectively reduce cyber harassment among students and improve the digital media usage experience. Full article
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15 pages, 423 KiB  
Article
Cyberharassment Victimization on Three Continents: An Integrative Approach
by Marko Mikkola, Noora Ellonen, Markus Kaakinen, Iina Savolainen, Anu Sirola, Izabela Zych, Hye-Jin Paek and Atte Oksanen
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(19), 12138; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191912138 - 25 Sep 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2429
Abstract
This article introduces and applies an integrative model of cyberharassment victimization. The model combines routine activity theory (RAT), the general theory of crime (GTC), and the personal resources approach to analyze risk factors for victimization while acknowledging the protective role of a sense [...] Read more.
This article introduces and applies an integrative model of cyberharassment victimization. The model combines routine activity theory (RAT), the general theory of crime (GTC), and the personal resources approach to analyze risk factors for victimization while acknowledging the protective role of a sense of mastery. Survey respondents were aged 15 to 25 years (N = 4816) from the U.S., Finland, Spain, and South Korea. Logistic regression models were used to analyze cyberharassment victimization. RAT-related factors were positively associated with cyberharassment victimization. Low self-control was positively associated with cyberharassment victimization in the U.S., Finland, and Spain but not in South Korea. The sense of mastery was negatively associated with cyberharassment victimization in the U.S., Finland, and South Korea but not in Spain. Protective factors against cyberharassment victimization should be utilized in future studies as adequate knowledge of protective factors could assist policymakers in generating preventative measures against cyberharassment. Our study demonstrates the benefits of integrating criminological theories and protective factors in studies using cross-national data to gain a better understanding of the dynamics of cyberharassment. Full article
8 pages, 317 KiB  
Article
Change in Factors Affecting Cyberbullying of Korean Elementary School Students during the COVID-19 Pandemic
by Yeon-Jun Choi, So Young Shin and Julak Lee
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(17), 11046; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191711046 - 3 Sep 2022
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2294
Abstract
The importance of social networking and the online environment as core factors in building relationships has grown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which limited in-person activities. As classes transitioned to online platforms, there was an influx of elementary school students into [...] Read more.
The importance of social networking and the online environment as core factors in building relationships has grown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which limited in-person activities. As classes transitioned to online platforms, there was an influx of elementary school students into the cyberspace, increasing the risk of exposure to cyberbullying. This study analyzed the factors influencing the experience of cyberbullying among Korean elementary school students around 2020, when the spread of COVID-19 began in earnest, and thus suggests directions for cyberbullying prevention measures for the post-COVID-19 era. This comparative study used binary logistic regression to analyze data from the “Cyber Violence Survey” conducted by the Korea Communications Commission in 2019 and 2020. The analysis confirmed that interactions between parents and children, cyberbullying control by schools, and recognition of cyberbullying as a problem had statistically significant influences on cyberbullying experience only in 2020 (i.e., when the pandemic began). Overall, this study emphasizes the importance of raising awareness about cyberbullying among elementary school students and taking preventive action through a home-school system to address cyberbullying in the post-COVID-19 era. Full article
21 pages, 2231 KiB  
Article
Stay Safe and Strong: Characteristics, Roles and Emotions of Student-Produced Comics Related to Cyberbullying
by Consuelo Mameli, Laura Menabò, Antonella Brighi, Damiano Menin, Catherine Culbert, Jayne Hamilton, Herbert Scheithauer, Peter K. Smith, Trijntje Völlink, Roy A. Willems, Noel Purdy and Annalisa Guarini
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(14), 8776; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19148776 - 19 Jul 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3458
Abstract
The present study aimed at giving voice to students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds using a co-participatory approach. Participants were 59 adolescents (52.5% males) aged between 14 and 16 from five European countries who created ten comics to illustrate cyberbullying for a broader audience [...] Read more.
The present study aimed at giving voice to students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds using a co-participatory approach. Participants were 59 adolescents (52.5% males) aged between 14 and 16 from five European countries who created ten comics to illustrate cyberbullying for a broader audience of peers. We analyzed texts and images according to four primary themes: cyberbullying episodes (types, platforms, co-occurrence with bullying), coping strategies, characters (roles, gender, and group membership), and emotions. The content analysis showed that online denigration on social media platforms was widely represented and that cyberbullying co-existed with bullying. Social strategies were frequently combined with passive and confrontational coping, up to suicide. All roles (cyberbully, cybervictim, bystander, reinforcer, defender) were portrayed among the 154 characters identified, even if victims and defenders appeared in the vignettes more often. Males, females, peers, and adults were represented in all roles. Among the 87 emotions detected, sadness was the most frequently expressed, followed by joy, surprise, anger, and fear. Emotions, mainly represented by drawings or drawings with text, were most often represented in association with cybervictims. The results are discussed in terms of their methodological and practical implications, as they emphasize the importance of valorizing young peoples’ voices in research and interventions against cyberbullying. Full article
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20 pages, 845 KiB  
Article
Does Cyberostracism Reduce Prosocial Behaviors? The Protective Role of Psychological Resilience
by Linyu Shi, Hao Li, Lianqiong Huang, Yubo Hou and Lili Song
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(7), 4388; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19074388 - 6 Apr 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2943
Abstract
To reduce the negative consequences of cyberostracism on prosocial behaviors, we developed a coping strategy based on psychological resilience, and revealed its effectiveness in combating the adverse effects of cyberostracism on prosocial behavior through two studies. Study 1 demonstrated that psychological resilience could [...] Read more.
To reduce the negative consequences of cyberostracism on prosocial behaviors, we developed a coping strategy based on psychological resilience, and revealed its effectiveness in combating the adverse effects of cyberostracism on prosocial behavior through two studies. Study 1 demonstrated that psychological resilience could mitigate the negative impact of cyberostracism on prosocial behaviors through experimental manipulation. By targeting continuously ostracized people with low resilience for an online self-help resilience intervention program, Study 2 confirmed that psychological resilience was effective in alleviating the detrimental effects of cyberostracism. These studies not only help us to recognize the negative effects of cyberostracism, but also extend Williams’ temporal need–threat model of ostracism in the context of online ostracism. As emerging technologies represent a promising new approach to intervention delivery, the most valuable contribution of this study is that we developed an online self-help psychological resilience intervention program that showed encouraging therapeutic effects and advantages for assisting in caring for a larger population of people who are at elevated risk for being cyberostracized. Full article
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13 pages, 713 KiB  
Article
School Interventions for Bullying–Cyberbullying Prevention in Adolescents: Insights from the UPRIGHT and CREEP Projects
by Silvia Gabrielli, Silvia Rizzi, Sara Carbone and Enrico Maria Piras
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(21), 11697; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111697 - 7 Nov 2021
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 13362
Abstract
Background: Several challenges and emotional demands characterize adolescence, affecting the mental well-being of youths. Among these, bullying and cyberbullying are recognized nowadays as a major social problem, affecting more than one-third of adolescents, with extensive negative consequences for the victims involved, such as [...] Read more.
Background: Several challenges and emotional demands characterize adolescence, affecting the mental well-being of youths. Among these, bullying and cyberbullying are recognized nowadays as a major social problem, affecting more than one-third of adolescents, with extensive negative consequences for the victims involved, such as lower self-esteem, increased loneliness, depression, and anxiety. School programs and interventions that foster resilience, coping, and well-being are particularly important during adolescence as protective and preventive factors against the consequences of (cyber)bullying. The paper presents two recent co-designed interventions for (cyber)bullying prevention deployed in Europe, targeting early adolescents and their school communities. Methods: The UPRIGHT project developed an evidence-based, whole-school intervention to train resilience as a protective factor to promote mental well-being in adolescents, in a cross-national perspective. The CREEP project designed and implemented digital interventions to support schools in (i) early detection of cyberbullying events on social media and (ii) coaching adolescents (victims, bullies, bystanders) on how to cope with (cyber)bullying behaviors. Results: The main challenges and insights collected during the design and implementation of both interventions are discussed to inform future research and practice. Conclusion: The feasibility and acceptance of prevention programs are key to the reducing risk of (cyber)bullying and improving the psychological well-being of early adolescents. Full article
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Review

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9 pages, 734 KiB  
Review
Estimating the Psychological Harm Consequence of Bullying Victimization: A Meta-Analytic Review for Forensic Evaluation
by Álvaro Montes, Jéssica Sanmarco, Mercedes Novo, Blanca Cea and Ramón Arce
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(21), 13852; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192113852 - 25 Oct 2022
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2811
Abstract
The prevalence of traditional bullying victimization has been estimated at around 36%, while that of cyberbullying has been estimated at 15%. The victimization of bullying brings with it harm to mental health that must be compensated for, after a forensic evaluation, by the [...] Read more.
The prevalence of traditional bullying victimization has been estimated at around 36%, while that of cyberbullying has been estimated at 15%. The victimization of bullying brings with it harm to mental health that must be compensated for, after a forensic evaluation, by the aggressor or legal guardian. Thus, a meta-analytic review was undertaken with the aim of knowing the effect of bullying victimization on psychological harm, as well as quantifying the magnitude of the harm and estimating the probability that no harm associated with bullying victimization is generated. Method: A random-effects correlational meta-analysis correcting effect size by sampling error and criterion and predictor unreliability was performed. Results: The results exhibited a positive (i.e., more victimization and more psychological harm) and significant mean true effect size, implying an average psychological harm associated to bullying victimization of 29.7%. Nevertheless, 26.7% of students victimized by bullying did not develop psychological harm. Conclusions: Bullying victimization causes psychological harm, with an average increase in psychological harm associated with bullying victimization of 29.7%. Full article
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17 pages, 2195 KiB  
Review
Family and Educational Strategies for Cyberbullying Prevention: A Systematic Review
by Pamela Tozzo, Oriana Cuman, Eleonora Moratto and Luciana Caenazzo
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(16), 10452; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191610452 - 22 Aug 2022
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 8651
Abstract
Cyberbullying can be described as a form of bullying carried out by an individual or a group through digital media with the intention to harm others. It has been recognized as a public health issue recently; however, of the vast literature published in [...] Read more.
Cyberbullying can be described as a form of bullying carried out by an individual or a group through digital media with the intention to harm others. It has been recognized as a public health issue recently; however, of the vast literature published in recent years on the phenomenon, only a small part concerns strategies adopted to prevent and combat cyberbullying, and the effectiveness of these strategies appears to be scarce. We conducted a systematic review of the literature published in the last five years about different interventions studied to prevent and contrast cyberbullying. Our results show how most of the strategies currently developed focus on the educational aspect, involving schools and families. Other authors describe technology-based practices to set programs to reduce and prevent cyberbullying through the usage of digital instruments, the same used by minors themselves. Finally, remaining tactics use a more comprehensive approach, mixing tools already in use in the aforementioned strategies. Cyberbullying requires wide-ranging methods to combat it, involving the contribution of mental health professionals, educators, and digital experts cooperating synergically. Prevention and contrast instruments should be defined, implemented, tested, and combined in order to deal with cyberbullying. Full article
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