Cyber and traditional bullying: differential association with depression

J Adolesc Health. 2011 Apr;48(4):415-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2010.07.012. Epub 2010 Sep 22.


Purpose: The study compared levels of depression among bullies, victims, and bully-victims of traditional (physical, verbal, and relational) and cyber bullying that is a relatively new form of bullying. The study also examined the association between depression and frequency of involvement in each form of bullying.

Methods: A U.S. nationally representative sample of students in grades 6-10 (N = 7,313) completed the bullying and depression items in the Health Behavior in School-Aged Children 2005 Survey.

Results: Depression was associated with each of the four forms of bullying. Cyber victims reported higher depression than bullies or bully-victims, a result not observed in other forms of bullying. For physical, verbal, and relational bullies, the frequently-involved group of victims and bully victims reported a significantly higher level of depression than the corresponding occasionally involved group. For cyber bullying, differences were found only between the occasional and frequent victims.

Conclusion: Results indicated the importance of further study of cyber bullying because its association with depression was distinct from traditional forms of bullying.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Blogging*
  • Bullying / psychology*
  • Child
  • Data Collection
  • Depression / classification
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Humans
  • United States