Impacts of traditional bullying and cyberbullying on the mental health of middle school and high school students.


A critical debate within the field of school psychology has centered on the relationship between bullying and cyberbullying in terms of prevalence, overlap, and impact. The current study sought to address the following questions: (1) Does cyberbullying create new victims or merely a new means of victimization? (2) Does cyberbullying uniquely contribute to negative outcomes above and beyond those of traditional bullying? Utilizing an anonymous survey to examine students’ experiences with cyberbullying, traditional bullying, and negative psychological symptoms, it was found that the vast majority of students who were bullied online were also victims of in-person bullying. Both forms of victimization were independently associated with negative outcomes. However, when controlling for traditional bullying, cyberbullying did not remain a predictor of negative mental health outcomes. In contrast, when controlling for cyberbullying, traditional bullying remained a significant predictor of negative mental health outcomes. These results suggest that although traditional and cyber forms of bullying tend to target the same victims, traditional bullying is more uniquely associated with negative psychological outcomes.