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J Adolesc Health. 2012 Jul;51(1):53-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2011.12.031. Epub 2012 Mar 21.

Defining and measuring cyberbullying within the larger context of bullying victimization.

Author information

  • 1Center for Innovative Public Health Research, Irvine, CA, USA. Michele@InnovativePublicHealth.org

Abstract

PURPOSE:

To inform the scientific debate about bullying, including cyberbullying, measurement.

METHODS:

Two split-form surveys were conducted online among 6-17-year-olds (n = 1,200 each) to inform recommendations for cyberbullying measurement.

RESULTS:

Measures that use the word "bully" result in prevalence rates similar to each other, irrespective of whether a definition is included, whereas measures not using the word "bully" are similar to each other, irrespective of whether a definition is included. A behavioral list of bullying experiences without either a definition or the word "bully" results in higher prevalence rates and likely measures experiences that are beyond the definition of "bullying." Follow-up questions querying differential power, repetition, and bullying over time were used to examine misclassification. The measure using a definition but not the word "bully" appeared to have the highest rate of false positives and, therefore, the highest rate of misclassification. Across two studies, an average of 25% reported being bullied at least monthly in person compared with an average of 10% bullied online, 7% via telephone (cell or landline), and 8% via text messaging.

CONCLUSIONS:

Measures of bullying among English-speaking individuals in the United States should include the word "bully" when possible. The definition may be a useful tool for researchers, but results suggest that it does not necessarily yield a more rigorous measure of bullying victimization. Directly measuring aspects of bullying (i.e., differential power, repetition, over time) reduces misclassification. To prevent double counting across domains, we suggest the following distinctions: mode (e.g., online, in-person), type (e.g., verbal, relational), and environment (e.g., school, home). We conceptualize cyberbullying as bullying communicated through the online mode.

Copyright © 2012 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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PMID:
22727077
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3383604
Free PMC Article
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