- Jane Timmons-Mitchell, PhD*
- Daniel J. Flannery, PhD*
- *Begun Center for Violence Prevention, Research and Education, Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
When bullying occurs through technology it is called electronic bullying or cyberbullying, which first appeared at the beginning of the 21st century and has become an issue of great concern to pediatricians, parents, educators, and youths themselves. Although cyberbullying includes aspects of traditional, in-person bullying, it also differs in important respects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines bullying as any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated. Bullying, whether in-person or through technology, can inflict distress on the targeted youth, as well as physical, psychological, social, or educational harm.
Cyberbullying should be considered in the context of traditional bullying rather than as a separate entity: it shares characteristics with traditional forms of bullying, such as its risk factors, its negative consequences, and the effectiveness of interventions that work on both types bullying. But there are also important differences between the 2: cyberbullying does not always have a clearly defined power differential, and 1 negative post can have significant effects without being repeated by its perpetrator.
Estimates of the frequency of cyberbullying vary. The CDC indicates that more than 15% of high school students report being cyberbullied in the past year. Other estimates include a range from 4% to 90%, with many studies reporting 20% to 40%. Rates of cyberbullying perpetration range from 3% to 36%. In 1 study, when …