Bullying victimization: time trends and the overlap between traditional and cyberbullying across countries in Europe and North America

Alina Cosma, Sophie D. Walsh, Kayleigh L. Chester, Mary Callaghan, Michal Molcho, Wendy Craig, William Pickett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Objectives: This study explores recent cross-national trends over time (2002–2014) in the occurrence of victimization by bullying; then it documents the overlap between cybervictimization and traditional bullying in 2014 among adolescents in 37 countries. Methods: Data from four cycles (2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014) of the cross-national Health Behavior in School-Aged Children study were included (N = 764,518). Trends in traditional victimization were evaluated using logistic regression models in 37 countries. Prevalence of cybervictimization and the overlap between cybervictimization and traditional victimization were estimated. Results: Linear decreases in bullying victimization were observed in 21 countries among boys, and in 12 countries among girls. The prevalence of cybervictimization was systematically lower than traditional victimization. Overall across all countries, 45.8% of those who reported cybervictimization also reported traditional victimization (46.5% for boys and 45.3% for girls), but wide country variations were observed. Conclusions: These indicate the need for a more holistic perspective to intervention and prevention that considers all expressions of bullying, traditional or online. Public health programs and policies could focus on addressing bullying more broadly, rather than focusing on behaviors that happen in a particular context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-85
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Canadian HBSC study is financially supported by the Public Health Agency of Canada (Contract Number CD016-123071-001/SS). HBSC Ireland was funded by the Health Promotion Policy Unit, Department of Health, Ireland. There was no involvement in the conduct of the research or preparation of the article by the study funders.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+).


  • Adolescence
  • Bullying
  • Cybervictimization
  • HBSC
  • Victimization


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