Online Program

Bystander intervention behaviors related to cyberbullying in a regional census of high school students

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 9:30 a.m. - 9:45 a.m.

Shari Kessel Schneider, MSPH, Health and Human Development Division, Education Development Center, Inc., Waltham, MA
Erin Smith, MPH, Health and Human Development Division, Education Development Center, Inc., Waltham, MA
Lydia O'Donnell, EdD, Health and Human Development Division, Education Development Center, Inc., Waltham, MA
BACKGROUND: Little is known about bystander behaviors in situations involving cyberbullying. In the digital world, where cyberbullying can be “witnessed” by hundreds of youth, how often do youth intervene and seek help from trusted adults? METHODS: 24,459 students completed the 2012 MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey, a regional census conducted in 26 MetroWest Boston high schools. Students reported cyberbullying victimization in the past 12 months, whether they had witnessed cyberbullying, and whether they had intervened as bystanders by: (1) trying to stop the cyberbullying, (2) telling an adult at school, (3) telling a parent/non-school adult. Bivariate analyses examined associations of bystander behaviors with gender and victimization. FINDINGS: 22.0% of students reported being victims of cyberbullying (28.1% of girls, 14.4% of boys). While 41.7% had witnessed cyberbullied, only 15.2% of youth tried to stop the cyberbullying, 8.0% told a parent/non-school adult, and 4.4% told an adult at school. Girls were more likely to intervene than boys (e.g., 19.9% vs. 10.2% tried to stop the cyberbullying), and youth who were bullied themselves were more likely than nonvictims to take action (e.g., 91.5% vs. 4.8% told a parent/non-school adult). Youth were twice as likely to intervene in school bullying incidents compared with cyberbullying (e.g., 34.2% vs. 15.3% tried to stop the bullying; 10.3% vs. 4.6% told a school adult). CONCLUSIONS: Few youth intervene or seek adult help in cases of cyberbullying. It is important to identify ways that schools, parents and social media sites can work with youth to support prosocial bystander behaviors.

Learning Areas:

Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the prevalence and correlates of bystander intervention behaviors related to cyberbullying; Compare bystander behaviors for school bullying vs. cyberbullying; Discuss ways to promote prosocial bystander behaviors with respect to cyberbullying.

Keyword(s): Adolescents, Internet

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Throughout my public health career, I have studied trends in adolescent risk behaviors, including school bullying and cyberbullying. I was first author on an American Journal of Public Health article that examined the association of cyberbullying, school bullying, and psychological distress and have done qualitative research on school-based efforts to address cyberbullying. I have been the Project Director for the MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey since it began in 2006.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.