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Original Article
July 2010

Psychosocial Risk Factors Associated With Cyberbullying Among Adolescents: A Population-Based Study

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Departments of Child Psychiatry (Drs Sourander and Luntamo and Mss Ikonen, Lindroos, and Ristkari) and Biostatistics (Mr Helenius), Turku University, Turku, and Department of Child Psychiatry, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki (Dr Koskelainen), Finland; and Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York, New York (Dr Brunstein Klomek).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010;67(7):720-728. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2010.79

Context  To our knowledge, no population study examining psychosocial and psychiatric risk factors associated with cyberbullying among adolescents exists.

Objective  To study cross-sectional associations between cyberbullying and psychiatric and psychosomatic problems among adolescents.

Design  Population-based cross-sectional study.

Setting  Finland.

Participants  The sample consists of 2215 Finnish adolescents aged 13 to 16 years with complete information about cyberbullying and cybervictimization.

Main Outcome Measures  Self-reports of cyberbullying and cybervictimization during the past 6 months.

Results  In the total sample, 4.8% were cybervictims only, 7.4% were cyberbullies only, and 5.4% were cyberbully-victims. Cybervictim-only status was associated with living in a family with other than 2 biological parents, perceived difficulties, emotional and peer problems, headache, recurrent abdominal pain, sleeping difficulties, and not feeling safe at school. Cyberbully-only status was associated with perceived difficulties, hyperactivity, conduct problems, low prosocial behavior, frequent smoking and drunkenness, headache, and not feeling safe at school. Cyberbully-victim status was associated with all of these risk factors. Among cybervictims, being cyberbullied by a same-sex or opposite-sex adult, by an unknown person, and by a group of people were associated with fear for safety, indicating possible trauma.

Conclusions  Both cyberbullying and cybervictimization are associated with psychiatric and psychosomatic problems. The most troubled are those who are both cyberbullies and cybervictims. This indicates the need for new strategies for cyberbullying prevention and intervention.