Cyber-bullying in adolescents: associated psychosocial problems and comparison with school bullying].

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The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of adolescents engaged in cyber-bullying and then to identify whether students involved in cyber- and school bullying present the same characteristics of internalizing problems (insomnia, perceived social disintegration, psychological distress) and externalizing problems (general aggressiveness, antisocial behavior).


Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 738 adolescents from a high-school and a middle-school (mean age=14.8 ± 2.7). The Electronic Bullying Questionnaire and the Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire were used to identify profiles of cyber-bullying (cyber-victim, cyber-bully, cyber-bully/victim and cyber-neutral) and school bullying (victim, bully, bully/victim and neutral). Internalizing problems were investigated using the Athens Insomnia Scale, a Perceived Social Disintegration Scale and a Psychological Distress Scale. Externalizing problems were assessed using a General Aggressiveness Scale and an Antisocial Behavior Scale.


Almost one student in four was involved in cyber-bullying (16.4% as cyber-victim, 4.9% as cyber-bully and 5.6% as cyber-bully/victim); 14% of our sample was engaged in school bullying as a victim, 7.2% as a bully and 2.8% as a bully/victim. The majority of adolescents involved in cyber-bullying were not involved in school bullying.

With regard to the problems associated with school bullying, internalizing problems were more prevalent in victims and bully/victims, whereas externalizing problems were more common in bullies and bully/victims. A similar pattern was found in cyber-bullying where internalizing problems were characteristic of cyber-victims and cyber-bully/victims. Insomnia was elevated in the cyber-bully group which is specific to cyberbullying.

General aggressiveness and antisocial behavior were more prevalent in cyber-bullies and cyber-bully/victims. Looking at the differences between types of bullying, victims of “school only” and “school and cyber” bullying had higher scores for insomnia and perceived social disintegration than victims of “cyber only” bullying or students “non-involved”. Higher general aggressiveness scores were observed for “school only” bullies and “school and cyber” bullies than for bullies in “cyber only” bullying or students “non-involved”. Regarding antisocial behavior, “school only” bullies, “cyber only” bullies, “school and cyber” bullies had higher scores than students “non-involved”.


This study highlights the importance of investigating both school and cyber-bullying as many psychosocial problems are linked to these two specific and highly prevalent forms of bullying.

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