cyberbullying research center   "When I was 13 in middle school I would receive anonymous phone calls on my cell phone during school and after school from some boys in my Spanish class threatening to rape me, kidnap me, kill me, and kill my dog. It was literally one of the most terrifying things that had ever happened to me, and after about 2 weeks of putting up with it, I finally reported them and they were arrested. Unfortunately that's not where it ended. These boys turned out to be the well-loved class clowns of the school and the torment from other students continued on MySpace. I ended up deleting it and didn't create another one until mid-8th grade when tensions died down a bit. I felt miserable for the rest of my middle school career and pleaded with my parents to transfer schools but they wouldn't listen. I did try to commit suicide more than once. The depression carried over into high school, but it was masked by having new friends that actually liked me. Eventually I did get help mid-Senior year and am continuing talk therapy in college." (18 year-old girl from FL)
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Reference List of Scholarly Publications Related to Cyberbullying

Apart from our own research, below is a list of other scholarly literature that examines issues relating to cyberbullying and online peer harassment among youth. Please email us the full citations and abstracts if you know of other refereed journal articles. Thank you.

Tolga Aricak, T., Siyahhan, S., Uzunhasanoglu, A., Saribeyoglu, S., Ciplak, S., Yilmaz, N., & Memmedov, C. (2008). Cyberbullying among Turkish Adolescents. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 11 (3), 253-261.

Cyberbullying, harassment through the use of information and communication technology such as cell phones and the Internet, is an emerging phenomenon all around the world. Extensive research on aggression and bullying is guiding educators' understanding of cyberbullying. Yet the gap between the advancement in technology and the dearth of study on cyberbullying suggests that more research is needed to understand the scope of this form of bullying. In order to fill the gap in literature, 269 secondary school Turkish students were surveyed on their engagement in and coping strategies for cyberbullying. The results show that 35.7% of the students displayed bully behaviors, and 23.8% of the students displayed bully-victim behaviors. Only 5.9% of the students were victims. More boys displayed bully, victim, and bully-victim behaviors than girls. When faced with cyberbullying, 25% of the students reported telling their peers and parents about the cyberbullying incident, and 30.6% of the students reported finding active solutions such as blocking the harasser. The implication of the study for future research is discussed.


Berson, I. R., Berson, M. J., & Ferron, J. M. (2002). Emerging risks of violence in the digital age: Lessons for educators from an online study of adolescent girls in the United States. Journal of School Violence, 1 (2), 51-71.

This research focuses on the evolving area of cyberviolence and draws on a pioneering study to discuss benefits and risks of online interaction among adolescent girls. This new area of inquiry introduces educators to the social and cultural communities of the Internet, a virtual venue with unique perspectives on power, identity, and gender for children and youth.


Campbell, M. A. (2005). Cyber Bullying: An Old Problem in a New Guise? Australian Journal of Guidance and Computing, 15 (1), 68-76.

Although technology provides numerous benefits to young people, it also has a ‘dark side’, as it can be used for harm, not only by some adults but also by the young people themselves. E-mail, texting, chat rooms, mobile phones, mobile phone cameras and web sites can and are being used by young people to bully peers. It is now a global problem with many incidents reported in the United States, Canada, Japan, Scandinavia and the United Kingdom, as well as in Australia and New Zealand. This growing problem has as yet not received the attention it deserves and remains virtually absent from the research literature. This article explores definitional issues, the incidence and potential consequences of cyber bullying, as well as discussing possible prevention and intervention strategies.


Finn, J. (2004). A survey of online harassment at a university campus. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 19(4), 468-483.

This exploratory study of 339 students at the University of New Hampshire found that approximately 10% to 15% of students reported receiving repeated e-mail or Instant Messenger (I-M) messages that "threatened, insulted, or harassed," and more than half of the students received unwanted pornography. Approximately 7% of students reported online harassment to an authority. Messages originated from strangers, acquaintances, and significant others. No difference in online harassment was found based on demographic variables except sexual orientation. Sexual minority students were more likely to receive online harassment from strangers than were heterosexual students. Implications for further research and for policy/program development are discussed.


Juvonen, J. & Gross, E. F. (2008). Extending the School Grounds?—Bullying Experiences in Cyberspace. Journal of School Health, 78 (9), 496-505.

Bullying is a national public health problem affecting millions of students. With the rapid increase in electronic or online communication, bullying is no longer limited to schools. The goal of the current investigation was to examine the overlap among targets of, and the similarities between, online and in-school bullying among Internet-using adolescents. Additionally, a number of common assumptions regarding online or cyberbullying were tested.


Keith, S. & Martin, M. E. (2005). Cyber-bullying: creating a culture of respect in a cyber world. Reclaiming Children & Youth, 13 (4), 224-228.

In the 1990s, many incidents revolved around student-on-student violence, usually involving guns. Schools implemented many programs to keep guns and gangs out of schools. In the 21st Century, school violence is taking on a new and more insidious form. New technologies have made it easier for bullies to gain access to their victims. This form of bullying has become known as cyber-bullying. This article provides a window to this little known world and offers practical suggestions for dealing with this new challenge.


Kennedy, T. (2000). An exploratory study of feminist experiences in cyberspace. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 3(5), 707-719.

The purpose of this study is to determine the kinds of experiences women Webdesigners have on the Internet. Specifically, the research examines the impact these experiences have in terms of women's Internet website activities, Internet personal activities (such as E-mail) and non-Internet personal and/or social activities. The study is based on 17 in-depth, semistructured online interviews with self-identified feminists who are Web designers of feminist sites. Interviews were conducted through E-mail and explored various online experiences. Previous research suggests a contradictory and often conflictual relationship between women and technology. However, the specific relationship between women and the Internet has received relatively little attention. This article addresses women's positive and negative experiences. For example, flaming, spamming, harassing posts (in different contexts), and sexual harassment are some negative reactions to women who include feminist thought on their websites. Positive responses received by women often serve to encourage online activities for women and create a network or community of women on the Internet. The intention of this research is to investigate whether Internet is indeed a medium that gives "voice" to women and women's issues.


Li, Q. (2006). Cyberbullying in schools: A research of gender differences. School Psychology International, 27(2), 157-170.

This study investigates the nature and the extent of adolescences’ experience of cyberbullying. A survey study of 264 students from three junior high schools was conducted. In this article, ‘cyberbullying’ refers to bullying via electronic communication tools. The results show that close to half of the students were bully victims and about one in four had been cyber-bullied. Over half of the students reported that they knew someone being cyberbullied. Almost half of the cyberbullies used electronic means to harass others more than three times. The majority of the cyber-bully victims and bystanders did not report the incidents to adults. When gender was considered, significant differences were identified in terms of bullying and cyberbullying. Males were more likely to be bullies and cyberbullies than their female counterparts. In addition, female cyberbully victims were more likely to inform adults than their male counterparts.


Li, Q. (2007). New bottle but old wine: A research of cyberbullying in schools. Computers in Human Behavior, 23 (4), 1777-1791.

This study investigates the nature and the extent of adolescences’ experience of cyberbullying. A survey study of 177 grade seven students in an urban city is conducted. In this paper, “cyberbullying” refers to bullying via electronic communication tools. The results show that almost 54% of the students were victims of traditional bullying and over a quarter of them had been cyber-bullied. Almost one in three students had bullied others in the traditional form, and almost 15% had bullied others using electronic communication tools. Almost 60% of the cyber victims are females, while over 52% of cyber-bullies are males. Majority of the cyber-bully victims and bystanders did not report the incidents to adults.


Shariff, S. & Hoff, D. L. (2007). Cyber bullying: Clarifying Legal Boundaries for School Supervision in Cyberspace. International Journal of Cyber Criminology, 1 (1).

Cyber bullying is a psychologically devastating form of social cruelty among adolescents. This paper reviews the current policy vacuum of the legal obligations and expectations of schools to monitor and supervise online discourse, while balancing student safety, education, and interaction in virtual space. The paper opens with a profile and conditions of cyber bullying using an analogy to Golding’s (1954), Lord of the Flies. The anarchy and deterioration of unsupervised adolescent relationships depicted in the book are compared to the deterioration of social relationships among adolescents in virtual space. A discussion of the institutional responses to cyber bullying follows. Finally, emerging and established law is highlighted to provide guidelines to help schools reduce cyber bullying through educational means that protect students and avoid litigation.


Smith, P. K., Mahdavi, J., Carvalho, M., Fisher, S., Russell, S., & Tippett, N. (2008). Cyberbullying: its nature and impact in secondary school pupils. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49 (4), 376-385.

Cyberbullying describes bullying using mobile phones and the internet. Most previous studies have focused on the prevalence of text message and email bullying. Two surveys with pupils aged 11-16 years: (1) 92 pupils from 14 schools, supplemented by focus groups; (2) 533 pupils from 5 schools, to assess the generalisability of findings from the first study, and investigate relationships of cyberbullying to general internet use. Both studies differentiated cyberbullying inside and outside of school, and 7 media of cyberbullying. Both studies found cyberbullying less frequent than traditional bullying, but appreciable, and reported more outside of school than inside. Phone call and text message bullying were most prevalent, with instant messaging bullying in the second study; their impact was perceived as comparable to traditional bullying. Mobile phone/video clip bullying, while rarer, was perceived to have more negative impact. Age and gender differences varied between the two studies. Study 1 found that most cyberbullying was done by one or a few students, usually from the same year group. It often just lasted about a week, but sometimes much longer. The second study found that being a cybervictim, but not a cyberbully, correlated with internet use; many cybervictims were traditional 'bully-victims'. Pupils recommended blocking/avoiding messages, and telling someone, as the best coping strategies; but many cybervictims had told nobody about it. Cyberbullying is an important new kind of bullying, with some different characteristics from traditional bullying. Much happens outside school. Implications for research and practical action are discussed.


Spitzberg, B. H. & Hoobler, G. (2002). Cyberstalking and the technologies of interpersonal terrorism. New Media & Society, 4, 71-92.

Despite extensive popular press coverage of the dark side of the internet, apparently no social scientific research has yet been published on the topic of cyberstalking. This report summarizes three pilot studies conducted in the process of developing a satisfactory factorially complex measure of cyberstalking victimization, and then investigates the incidence of such victimization, and its interrelationships to obsessive relational intrusion. Findings indicate that cyberstalking is experienced by a nontrivial proportion of the sample, and that there are small but generally consistent relationships between facets of cyberstalking and spatially based stalking. In addition, the results suggested that only interactional forms of coping were related consistently with forms of cyberstalking.


Vandebosch, H. & Van Cleemput, K. (2008). Defining Cyberbullying: A Qualitative Research into the Perceptions of Youngsters. CyberPsychology and Behavior, 11 (4), 499-503.

Data from 53 focus groups, which involved students from 10 to 18 years old, show that youngsters often interpret “cyberbullying” as “Internet bullying” and associate the phenomenon with a wide range of practices. In order to be considered “true” cyberbullying, these practices must meet several criteria. They should be intended to hurt (by the perpetrator) and perceived as hurtful (by the victim); be part of a repetitive pattern of negative offline or online actions; and be performed in a relationship characterized by a power imbalance (based on “real-life” power criteria, such as physical strength or age, and/or on ICT-related criteria such as technological know-how and anonymity).


Wolak, J. Mitchell, K.J., & Finkelhor, D. (2006). Online victimization of youth: 5 years later. Alexandria, VA: National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

This second groundbreaking national survey of 1,500 youth aged 10 to 17 documented their use of the Internet and experiences while online including unwanted exposure to sexual solicitation, sexual material, and harassment. It was produced in cooperation with OJJDP and the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes against Children Research Center and includes recommendations to help make the Internet safer for children.


Ybarra, M. L., & Mitchell, J. K. (2004). Online aggressor/targets, aggressors and targets: A comparison of associated youth characteristics. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45, 1308-1316.

While most youth report positive experiences and activities online, little is known about experiences of Internet victimization and associated correlates of youth, specifically in regards to Internet harassment. The Youth Internet Safety Survey is a cross-sectional, nationally representative telephone survey of young regular Internet users in the United States. Interviews were conducted between the fall of 1999 and the spring of 2000 and examined characteristics of Internet harassment, unwanted exposure to sexual material, and sexual solicitation that had occurred on the Internet in the previous year. One thousand, five hundred and one regular Internet users between the ages of 10 and 17 years were interviewed, along with one parent or guardian. To assess the characteristics surrounding Internet harassment, four groups of youth were compared: 1) targets of aggression (having been threatened or embarrassed by someone; or feeling worried or threatened by someone's actions); 2) online aggressors (making rude or nasty comments; or harassing or embarrassing someone with whom the youth was mad at); 3) aggressor/targets (youth who report both being an aggressor as well as a target of Internet harassment); and 4) non-harassment involved youth (being neither a target nor an aggressor online). Of the 19% of young regular Internet users involved in online aggression, 3% were aggressor/targets, 4% reported being targets only, and 12% reported being online aggressors only. Youth aggressor/targets reported characteristics similar to conventional bully/victim youth, including many commonalities with aggressor-only youth, and significant psychosocial challenge. Youth aggressor/targets are intense users of the Internet who view themselves as capable web users. Beyond this, however, these youth report significant psychosocial challenge, including depressive symptomatology, problem behavior, and targeting of traditional bullying. Implications for intervention are discussed.


Ybarra, M. L. (2004). Linkages between depressive symptomatology and Internet harassment among young regular Internet users. Cyberpsychology and Behavior, 7(2), 247-57.

Recent reports indicate 97% of youth are connected to the Internet. As more young people have access to online communication, it is integrally important to identify youth who may be more vulnerable to negative experiences. Based upon accounts of traditional bullying, youth with depressive symptomatology may be especially likely to be the target of Internet harassment. The current investigation will examine the cross-sectional relationship between depressive symptomatology and Internet harassment, as well as underlying factors that may help explain the observed association. Youth between the ages of 10 and 17 (N = 1,501) participated in a telephone survey about their Internet behaviors and experiences. Subjects were required to have used the Internet at least six times in the previous 6 months to ensure a minimum level of exposure. The caregiver self-identified as most knowledgeable about the young person's Internet behaviors was also interviewed. The odds of reporting an Internet harassment experience in the previous year were more than three times higher (OR: 3.38, CI: 1.78, 6.45) for youth who reported major depressive symptomatology compared to mild/absent symptomatology. When female and male respondents were assessed separately, the adjusted odds of reporting Internet harassment for males who also reported DSM IV symptoms of major depression were more than three times greater (OR: 3.64, CI: 1.16, 11.39) than for males who indicated mild or no symptoms of depression. No significant association was observed among otherwise similar females. Instead, the association was largely explained by differences in Internet usage characteristics and other psychosocial challenges. Internet harassment is an important public mental health issue affecting youth today. Among young, regular Internet users, those who report DSM IV-like depressive symptomatology are significantly more likely to also report being the target of Internet harassment. Future studies should focus on establishing the temporality of events, that is, whether young people report depressive symptoms in response to the negative Internet experience, or whether symptomatology confers risks for later negative online incidents. Based on these cross-sectional results, gender differences in the odds of reporting an unwanted Internet experience are suggested, and deserve special attention in future studies.


Ybarra, M. L. & Mitchell, J. K. (2004). Youth engaging in online harassment: associations with caregiver-child relationships, Internet use, and personal characteristics. Journal of Adolescence, 27(3), 319-336.

In order to study how research on 'traditional' youth bullying translates to Internet youth bullying, the authors undertook analysis of data from the (American) Youth Internet Safety Survey of 1,501 regular Internet users aged between 10 and 17. A number of similarities and differences between traditional and Internet bullying were identified. For example, both types of bully are more likely to have a poor caregiver-child emotional bond than non-harassers. Consequently, it is suggested that counselling parents about safe Internet practices may not be sufficient to prevent bullying where the relationship between parents and offspring is poor. Youth-directed intervention and education may be also needed. In addition, both types of bully were more likely to have high substance use, be delinquent and be the target of bullying in offline situations. On the other hand, Internet bullies were more likely than traditional bullies to be female, possibly because young women feel less inhibited and more assertive online. Internet bullies used the Internet more than non-harassers, and were more likely to be older.


Ybarra, M. L., Mitchell, J. K., Finkelhor, D., & Wolak, J. (2007). Examining characteristics and associated distress related to Internet harassment: Findings from the Second Youth Internet Safety Survey. Pediatrics, 118 (4):1169-1177.

We sought to identify the characteristics of youth who are targets of Internet harassment and characteristics related to reporting distress as a result of the incident. The Second Youth Internet Safety Survey is a national telephone survey of a random sample of 1500 Internet users between the ages of 10 and 17 years conducted between March and June 2005. Participants had used the Internet at least once a month for the previous 6 months. Nine percent of the youth who used the Internet were targets of online harassment in the previous year. Thirty-two percent of the targets reported chronic harassment (ie, harassment > or = 3 times in the previous year). In specific incidents, almost half (45%) knew the harasser in person before the incident. Half of the harassers (50%) were reportedly male, and half (51%) were adolescents. One in 4 targets reported an aggressive offline contact (eg, the harasser telephoned, came to the youth's home, or sent gifts); 2 in 3 disclosed the incident to another person. Among otherwise similar youth, the odds of being a target of Internet harassment were higher for those youth who harassed others online, reported borderline/clinically significant social problems, and were victimized in other contexts. Likewise, using the Internet for instant messaging, blogging, and chat room use each elevated the odds of being a target of Internet harassment versus those who did not engage in these online activities. All other demographic, Internet-use, and psychosocial characteristics were not related to reports of online harassment. Thirty-eight percent of the harassed youth reported distress as a result of the incident. Those who were targeted by adults, asked to send a picture of themselves, received an aggressive offline contact (eg, the harasser telephoned or came to the youth's home), and were preadolescents were each significantly more likely to report distress because of the experience. Conversely, the youth who visited chat rooms were significantly less likely to be distressed by the harassment. Internet harassment can be a serious event for some youth. Because there has been a significant increase in the prevalence of Internet harassment from 2000 to 2005, adolescent health professionals should continue to be vigilant about such experiences in the lives of young people with whom they interact. Social problems and online aggressive behavior are each associated with elevated odds of being the target of harassment. Thus, prevention efforts may be best aimed at improving the interpersonal skills of young people who choose to communicate with others using these online tools. Adolescent health professionals should be especially aware of events that include aggressive offline contacts by adult harassers or asking the child or adolescent to send a picture of themselves, because each of these scenarios increase the odds of reporting distress by more than threefold. Findings further support the call for the inclusion of Internet-harassment prevention in conventional antibullying programs empowering schools to address Internet bullying situations that occur between students. This will not solve all situations, however. We also must encourage Internet service providers to partner with consumers to be proactive in serious harassment episodes that violate criminal laws and service-provider codes of conduct.


Ybarra, M. L., Mitchell, J. K., Finkelhor, D., & Wolak, J. (2007). Internet prevention messages: Are we targeting the right online behaviors? Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 161:138-145.

Internet safety programs urge youth to avoid sharing personal information and talking with "strangers" online. To examine whether sharing personal information and talking with strangers online or other behaviors are associated with the greatest odds for online interpersonal victimization. The Second Youth Internet Safety Survey was a cross-sectional random digit-dial telephone survey. A total of 1500 youth aged 10 to 17 years who had used the Internet at least once a month for the previous 6 months. Online behavior, including disclosure of personal information, aggressive behavior, talking with people met online, sexual behavior, and downloading images using file-sharing programs. Online interpersonal victimization (ie, unwanted sexual solicitation or harassment). Aggressive behavior in the form of making rude or nasty comments (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 2.3; P<.001) or frequently embarrassing others (AOR, 4.6; P = .003), meeting people in multiple ways (AOR, 3.4; P<.001), and talking about sex online with unknown people (AOR, 2.0; P = .02) were significantly related to online interpersonal victimization after adjusting for the total number of different types of online behaviors youth engaged in. Engaging in 4 types of online behaviors seemed to represent a tipping point of increased risk for online interpersonal victimization (OR, 11.3; P<.001). Talking with people known only online ("strangers") under some conditions is related to online interpersonal victimization, but sharing personal information is not. Engaging in a pattern of different kinds of online risky behaviors is more influential in explaining victimization than many specific behaviors alone. Pediatricians should help parents assess their child's online behaviors globally in addition to focusing on specific types of behaviors.

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