Experiences of Online Bullying and Offline Violence-Related Behaviors Among a Nationally Representative Sample of US Adolescents, 2011 to 2019

J Sch Health. 2022 Apr;92(4):376-386. doi: 10.1111/josh.13144. Epub 2022 Jan 26.


Background: Being bullied online is associated with being bullied in school. However, links between online bullying and violence-related experiences are minimally understood. We evaluated potential disparities in these associations to illuminate opportunities to reduce school-based violence.

Methods: We used five cohorts of Youth Risk Behavior Survey national cross-sectional data (2011-2019, Ntotal = 73 074). We used survey-weighted logistic and multinomial models to examine links between online bullying and five school-based violence-related experiences: offline bullying, weapon carrying, avoiding school due to feeling unsafe, being threatened/injured with a weapon, and physical fighting. We examined interactions by sex, race/ethnicity, and sexual identity.

Results: Being bullied online was positively associated with all offline violence-related behaviors. Groups with stronger associations between online bullying and physical fighting, including boys, adolescents whose sexual identity was gay/lesbian or unsure, and many adolescents of color (Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander adolescents), had stronger associations between online bullying and either weapon carrying or avoiding school.

Conclusions: Online bullying is not an isolated harmful experience; many marginalized adolescents who experience online bullying are more likely to be targeted in school, feel unsafe, get in fights, and carry weapons. Reduction of online bullying should be prioritized as part of a comprehensive school-based violence prevention strategy.

Keywords: adolescent; bullying; violence.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aggression
  • Bullying*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cyberbullying*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Violence