Cyberbullying, School Bullying, and Psychological Distress: A Regional Census of High School Students
Shari Kessel Schneider, MSPH, Lydia O'Donnell, EdD, Ann Stueve, PhD, and Robert W. S. Coulter, BS
Shari Kessel Schneider, Lydia O'Donnell, Ann Stueve, and Robert W. S. Coulter are with the Health and Human Development Division, Education Development Center, Newton Waltham, MA.
Correspondence should be sent to Shari Kessel Schneider, Education Development Center, 43 Foundry Ave., Waltham, MA 02453 (e-mail: email@example.com). Reprints can be ordered at http://www.ajph.org by clicking the “Reprints/Eprints” link.
S. Kessel Schneider conceptualized the study and led the analysis and writing of the article. L. O'Donnell and A. Stueve provided substantial contributions to the analysis and writing. R. W. S. Coulter assisted with data collection and analysis.
Objectives. Using data from a regional census of high school students, we have documented the prevalence of cyberbullying and school bullying victimization and their associations with psychological distress.Methods. In the fall of 2008, 20 406 ninth- through twelfth-grade students in MetroWest Massachusetts completed surveys assessing their bullying victimization and psychological distress, including depressive symptoms, self-injury, and suicidality.
Results. A total of 15.8% of students reported cyberbullying and 25.9% reported school bullying in the past 12 months. A majority (59.7%) of cyberbullying victims were also school bullying victims; 36.3% of school bullying victims were also cyberbullying victims. Victimization was higher among nonheterosexually identified youths. Victims report lower school performance and school attachment. Controlled analyses indicated that distress was highest among victims of both cyberbullying and school bullying (adjusted odds ratios [AORs] were from 4.38 for depressive symptoms to 5.35 for suicide attempts requiring medical treatment). Victims of either form of bullying alone also reported elevated levels of distress.
Conclusions. Our findings confirm the need for prevention efforts that address both forms of bullying and their relation to school performance and mental health.