Prevalence and predictors of internet bullying

J Adolesc Health. 2007 Dec;41(6 Suppl 1):S14-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2007.08.018.


Purpose: With the Internet quickly becoming a new arena for social interaction, it has also become a growing venue for bullying among youth. The purpose of the present study was to contrast the prevalence of Internet bullying with physical and verbal bullying among elementary, middle, and high school boys and girls, and to examine whether key predictors of physical and verbal bullying also predicted Internet bullying.

Methods: As part of an ongoing, statewide bullying prevention initiative in Colorado, 3,339 youth in Grades 5, 8, and 11 completed questionnaires in 78 school sites during the fall of 2005, and another 2,293 youth in that original sample participated in a follow-up survey in 65 school sites in the spring of 2006. Questionnaires included measures of bullying perpetration and victimization, normative beliefs about bullying, perceptions of peer social support, and perceptions of school climate.

Results: The highest prevalence rates were found for verbal, followed by physical, and then by Internet bullying. Physical and Internet bullying peaked in middle school and declined in high school. Verbal bullying peaked in middle school and remained relatively high during high school. Males were more likely to report physical bullying than females, but no gender differences were found for Internet and verbal bullying. All three types of bullying were significantly related to normative beliefs approving of bullying, negative school climate, and negative peer support.

Conclusions: Preventive interventions that target school bullying by changing norms about bullying and school context may also impact Internet bullying, given the shared predictors.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Colorado / epidemiology
  • Crime Victims / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Organizational Culture
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Schools
  • Social Behavior*
  • Social Perception
  • Social Support
  • Social Values