Cyberbullying perpetrators, victims both at risk of post-traumatic stress
Cyber and face-to-face bullying overlap with each other, although cyber-perpetrators seem to be less commonly involved in traditional bullying, a study reports. More importantly, both perpetrators and victims of cyberbullying experience post-traumatic stress (PTS) symptoms.
The analysis included 2,218 secondary school students (aged 11–19 years) who completed the survey, which included the Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire and the Children Revised Impact of Events Scale.
There were fewer children involved in cyber than in traditional bullying (25.46 percent vs 33.48 percent). An overlap emerged between the two practices, such that half of those who perpetrated or were targeted in cyberbullying had the same involvement in traditional bullying. Specifically, 52.2 percent of the children were victims of both cyber and face-to-face bullying, 45.5 percent of those who had both been a perpetrator and target of cyberbullying were also traditional bully victims, and 48 percent of the cyberbullies were also traditional bullies.
A significant number of children who were victims (n=280; 35 percent), perpetrators (n=178; 29.2 percent), and perpetrators/victims (n=77; 28.6 percent) of cyberbullying presented clinically significant PTS symptoms. Cybervictims (both a victim and perpetrator) exhibited greater intrusion (p=0.003; p<0.001) and avoidance (p=0.005; p<0.001) than cyberbullies. However, the latter still exhibited more PTS symptoms than the noninvolved (intrusion: p=0.001; avoidance: p=0.002).
Involvement in both cyber and traditional bullying as a victim predicted PTS symptoms.
The findings underscore the importance of early recognition of PTS symptoms in children with cyberbullying involvement in order to be referred to appropriate services for assessment and treatment.