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Cyber-Victimization is Modern Tool that Extends Playground Bullying

Cyber-Bullying May Bring Playground Victims Online

A new U.K. study finds that cyberbullying typically does not create new victims — it is merely a continuation of face-to-face bullying.

Professor Dieter Wolke of the University of Warwick said although cyberbullying is prevalent and harmful, it is a modern tool used to harm victims already bullied by traditional, face-to-face means.

In a study of almost 3,000 pupils aged 11-16 from U.K. secondary schools, 29 percent reported being bullied, but just one percent of adolescents were victims of cyberbullying alone.

During the survey, pupils completed the Bullying and Friendship Interview, which has been used in numerous studies to assess bullying and victimization.

Victimization was assessed from three difference viewpoints.

Students were asked about direct victimization (e.g., “been hit/beaten up” or “called bad/nasty names”); relational victimization (e.g., “had nasty lies/rumors spread about you”); and cyber-victimization (e.g., “had rumors spread about you online,” “had embarrassing pictures posted online without permission,” or “got threatening or aggressive emails, instant messages, text messages, or tweets”).

Sadly, all the teenagers who reported being bullied in any form had lower self-esteem, and more behavioral difficulties than non-victims.

However, those who were bullied by multiple means — direct victimization, relational victimization, and cyber-victimization combined — demonstrated the lowest self-esteem and the most emotional and behavioral problems.

The study finds that cyberbullying is “another tool in the toolbox” for traditional bullying, but doesn’t create many unique online victims.

As a result, Wolke said that public health strategies to prevent bullying overall should still mainly focus on combatting traditional, face-to-face bullying — as that is the root cause of the vast majority of cyberbullying.

“Bullying is a way to gain power and peer acceptance, being the ‘cool’ kid in class. Thus, cyber bullying is another tool that is directed towards peers that the bully knows, and bullies, at school,” Wolke said.

“Any bullying prevention and intervention still needs to be primarily directed at combating traditional bullying while considering cyberbullying as an extension that reaches victims outside the school gate and 24/7.”

The research is published in the journal, European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Source: University of Warwick

Cyber-Bullying May Bring Playground Victims Online

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Cyber-Bullying May Bring Playground Victims Online. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 3, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 8 Mar 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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