Advertisement

Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Traditional Victims and Cybervictims: Prevalence, Overlap, and Association with Mental Health Among Adolescents in Singapore

Abstract

Traditional bullying typically occurs in schools and has been associated with a myriad of mental health problems. Recent evidence has indicated that cyberbullying may just be traditional bullying that is extended to the online world, but this possibility has received only limited study in Asian countries. This study explored the co-occurrence of traditional and cybervictimization and its association with mental health among 3319 adolescents aged 12 to 17 years in Singapore. Victims of bullying were categorized into mutually exclusive groups: traditional-only victims, cyber-only victims, or combined traditional and cybervictims. Results indicated that there were substantial overlaps between victimization in traditional bullying and cyberbullying and that traditional victimization was more prevalent than cybervictimization. Being a victim of either form of bullying (i.e., traditional-only or cyber-only victims) was associated with higher reports of internalizing and externalizing problems, and combined traditional and cybervictims reported the most internalizing problems. However, there were no significant differences in problem scores between traditional-only victims and cyber-only victims. The findings highlight the need to consider the extensive overlap between traditional and cybervictimization when investigating their differential association with adolescents’ mental health. Prevention and intervention efforts by school staff and mental health practitioners need to target both traditional bullying and cyberbullying in an integrated manner, and extra attention should be provided to adolescents who are victims of both forms of bullying.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Notes

  1. 1.

    School types in Singapore include “government schools” which are fully funded by the government, “government-aided” schools which are not fully funded by the government and maintain some autonomy in operations, and “other” schools, which include independent schools not funded by the government.

  2. 2.

    In mainstream secondary schools in Singapore, students are also assigned to one of three academic streams (Express, Normal Academic, Normal Technical) based on their performance in a national examination at the end of primary school.

  3. 3.

    We recognize that the SDQ Peer Problems subscale contains an item that addresses being bullied by others, i.e., “Other children or young people pick on me or bully me.” However, most other studies (e.g., Campbell et al., 2012) have used the subscale in its entirety. We repeated all analyses with the aforementioned item removed from the internalizing problems score. The results obtained were identical in terms of significance level (p < .001) and comparable in terms of effect sizes and odds ratios.

References

  1. Achenbach, T. M., Becker, A., Dopfner, M., Heiervang, E., Roessner, V., Steinhausen, H. C., et al. (2008). Multicultural assessment of child and adolescent psychopathology with ASEBA and SDQ instruments: Research findings, applications, and future directions. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry,49(3), 251–275. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2007.01867.x.

  2. Antoniadou, N., & Kokkinos, C. M. (2015). Cyber and school bullying: Same or different phenomena? Aggression and Violent Behavior,25, 363–372. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2015.09.013.

  3. Arseneault, L. (2018). Annual research review: The persistent and pervasive impact of being bullied in childhood and adolescence: Implications for policy and practice. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry,59(4), 405–421. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.12841.

  4. Arseneault, L., Walsh, E., Trzesniewski, K., Newcombe, R., Caspi, A., & Moffitt, T. E. (2006). Bullying Victimization Uniquely Contributes to Adjustment Problems in Young Children: A Nationally Representative Cohort Study. Pediatrics,118(1), 130–138. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2005-2388.

  5. Beckman, L., Hagquist, C., & Hellström, L. (2012). Does the association with psychosomatic health problems differ between cyberbullying and traditional bullying? Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties,17(3–4), 421–434. https://doi.org/10.1080/13632752.2012.704228.

  6. Bonanno, R. A., & Hymel, S. (2013). Cyber bullying and internalizing difficulties: Above and beyond the impact of traditional forms of bullying. Journal of Youth Adolescence,42(2), 685–697. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-013-9937-1.

  7. Bradshaw, C. P., Waasdorp, T. E., & O’Brennan, L. M. (2013). A latent class approach to examining forms of peer victimization. Journal of Educational Psychology,105(3), 839–849. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0032091.

  8. Campbell, M. A. (2005). Cyber bullying: An old problem in a new guise? Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling,15(1), 68–76. https://doi.org/10.1375/ajgc.15.1.68.

  9. Campbell, M., Spears, B., Slee, P., Butler, D., & Kift, S. (2012). Victims’ perceptions of traditional and cyberbullying, and the psychosocial correlates of their victimization. Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties,17(3–4), 389–401. https://doi.org/10.1080/13632752.2012.704316.

  10. Chang, F.-C., Lee, C.-M., Chiu, C.-H., His, W.-Y., Huang, T.-F., & Panm, Y.-C. (2013). Relationships among cyberbullying, school bullying, and mental health in Taiwanese adolescents. Journal of School Health,83(6), 454–462. https://doi.org/10.1111/josh.12050.

  11. Chen, L. M., Cheng, Y. Y., Wang, W. C., & Hsueh, C.-W. (2015). The intersection between perceived severity and frequency of being bullied: A Rasch measurement approach. Educational Psychology,35(4), 397–415. https://doi.org/10.1080/01443410.2013.864755.

  12. Della Cioppa, V., O’Neil, A., & Craig, W. (2015). Learning from traditional bullying interventions: A review of research on cyberbullying and best practice. Aggression and Violent Behavior,23, 61–68. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2015.05.009.

  13. Dunne, M., Pham, T. P., Le, H. H. T., & Sun, J. (2016). Bullying and educational stress in schools in East Asia. Ending the Torment: Tackling bullying from the schoolyard to cyberspace children’s exposure to bullying: Data and regional trends (pp. 131–143). New York: United Nation Publications. https://doi.org/10.18356/dd4ab051-en.

  14. Goodman, R. (1997). The strengths and difficulties questionnaire: A research note. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry,38(5), 581–586. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.1997.tb01545.x.

  15. Goodman, A., Lamping, D. L., & Ploubidis, G. B. (2010). When to use broader internalizing and externalizing subscales instead of the hypothesised five subscales on the strengths and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ): Data from British parents, teachers and children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology,38(8), 1179–1191. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-010-9434-x.

  16. Hase, C. N., Goldberg, S. B., Smith, D., Stuck, A., & Campain, J. (2015). Impacts of traditional bullying and cyberbullying on the mental health of middle school and high school students. Psychology in the Schools,52(6), 607–617. https://doi.org/10.1002/pits.21841.

  17. Hofstede, G. H., Hofstede, G. J., & Minkov, M. (Eds.). (2010). Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

  18. Hong, J. S., & Espelage, D. L. (2012). A review of research on bullying and peer victimization in school: An ecological system analysis. Aggression and Violent Behavior,17(4), 311–322. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2012.03.003.

  19. Hunter, S. C., Boyle, J. M. E., & Warden, D. (2010). Help seeking amongst child and adolescent victims of peer-aggression and bullying: The influence of school-stage, gender, victimisation, appraisal, and emotion. British Journal of Educational Psychology,74(3), 375–390. https://doi.org/10.1348/0007099041552378.

  20. Internet World Statistics. (2017). Asia internet use, population data and Facebook statistics. http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats3.htm. Retrieved November 11, 2017.

  21. Ji, L., Zhang, W., & Jones, K. (2016). Children’s experiences of and attitudes towards bullying and victimization: A cross-cultural comparison between China and England. In P. K. Smith, K. Kwak, & U. Toda (Eds.), School Bullying in Different Cultures, Eastern and Western Perspectives (pp. 153–169). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  22. Kochenderfer-Ladd, B., & Skinner, K. (2002). Children’s coping strategies: Moderators of the effects of peer victimization? Developmental Psychology,38(2), 267–278. https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.38.2.267.

  23. Koh, C. W., & Tan, A. (2008). Bullying in Singapore Schools (p. 8). Singapore: Singapore Children’s Society Research Monograph No.

  24. Kowalski, R. M., Giumetti, G. W., Schroeder, A. N., & Lattanner, M. R. (2014). Bullying in the digital age: A critical review and meta-analysis of cyberbullying research among youth. Psychological Bulletin,140(4), 1073–1137. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0035618.

  25. Kowalski, R. M., Morgan, C. A., & Limber, S. P. (2012). Traditional bullying as a potential warning sign of cyberbullying. School Psychology International,33(5), 505–519. https://doi.org/10.1177/0143034312445244.

  26. Kubiszewski, V., Fontaine, R., Potard, C., & Auzoult, L. (2015). Does cyberbullying overlap with school bullying when taking modality of involvement into account? Computers in Human Behavior,43, 49–57. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2014.10.049.

  27. Menesini, E., Calussi, P., & Nocenti, A. (2012). Cyberbullying and traditional bullying: Unique, additive, and synergistic effects on psychological health symptoms. In Q. Li, D. Cross, & P. K. Smith (Eds.), Cyberbullying in the global playground: Research from international perspectives (pp. 245–262). Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell.

  28. Microsoft. (2012). Online bullying WW among children 817. http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=9808199. Accessed 11 November 2017.

  29. Mitchell, K. J., Jones, L. M., Turner, H. A., Shattuck, A., & Wolak, J. (2015). The role of technology in peer harassment: Does it amplify harm for youth? Psychology of Violence,6(2), 193–204. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0039317.

  30. Modecki, K. L., Minchin, J., Harbaugh, A. G., Guerra, N. G., & Runions, K. C. (2014). Bullying prevalence across contexts: A meta-analysis measuring cyber and traditional bullying. Journal of Adolescent Health,55(5), 602–611. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2014.06.007.

  31. O’Keefe, M., & Sela-Amit, M. (1997). An examination of the effects of race/ethnicity and social class on adolescent’s exposure to violence. Journal of Social Service Research,22(3), 53–71. https://doi.org/10.1300/J079v22n03_03.

  32. Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

  33. Olweus, D. (2012). Cyberbullying: An overrated phenomenon? European Journal of Developmental Psychology,9(5), 520–538. https://doi.org/10.1080/17405629.2012.682358.

  34. Olweus, D., & Limber, S. P. (2018). Some problems with cyberbullying research. Current Opinion in Psychology,19, 139–143. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2017.04.012.

  35. Payne, A. A., & Hutzell, K. L. (2015). Old wine, new bottle? Comparing interpersonal bullying and cyberbullying victimization. Youth & Society,49(8), 1149–1178. https://doi.org/10.1177/0044118X15617401.

  36. Perren, S., Dooley, J., Shaw, T., & Cross, D. (2010). Bullying in school and cyberspace: Associations with depressive symptoms in Swiss and Australian adolescents. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health,4(1), 28–38. https://doi.org/10.1186/1753-2000-4-28.

  37. Raskauskas, J. (2010). Text-bullying: Associations with traditional bullying and depression among New Zealand adolescents. Journal of School Violence,9(1), 74–97. https://doi.org/10.1080/15388220903185605.

  38. Reijntjes, A., Kamphuis, J. H., Prinzie, P., Boelen, P. A., van der Schoot, M., & Telch, M. J. (2011). Prospective linkages between peer victimization and externalizing problems in children: A meta-analysis. Aggressive Behavior,37(3), 215–222. https://doi.org/10.1002/ab.20374.

  39. Reijntjes, A., Kamphuis, J. H., Prinzie, P., & Telch, M. J. (2010). Peer victimization and internalizing problems in children: A meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Child Abuse and Neglect,34(4), 244–252. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2009.07.009.

  40. Salmivalli, C., Kärnä, A., & Poskiparta, E. (2011). Counteracting bullying in Finland: The KiVa Program and its effects on different forms of being bullied. International Journal of Behavioral Development,35(5), 405–411. https://doi.org/10.1177/0165025411407457.

  41. Scott, J. G., Moore, S. E., Sly, P. D., & Norman, R. E. (2014). Bullying in children and adolescents: A modifiable risk factor for mental illness. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry,48, 209–212. https://doi.org/10.1177/0004867413508456.

  42. Singapore Department of Statistics. (2017). Yearbook of Statistics, Singapore. http://www.singstat.gov.sg/docs/default-source/default-document-library/publications/publications_and_papers/population_and_population_structure/population2017.pdf. Accessed 20 August 2017.

  43. Sittichai, R., & Smith, P. K. (2015). Bullying in South-East Asian Countries: A review. Aggression and Violent Behavior,23, 22–35. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2015.06.002.

  44. Smith, P. K. (2012). Cyberbullying and cyber aggression. In S. R. Jimerson, A. B. Nickerson, M. J. Mayer, & M. J. Furlong (Eds.), Handbook of School Violence and School Safety: International Research and Practice (2nd ed., pp. 93–103). New York: Routledge.

  45. Smith, P. K., Mahdavi, J., Carvalho, M., Fisher, S., Russell, S., & Tippettm, N. (2008). Cyberbullying: Its nature and impact in secondary school pupils. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry,49(4), 376–385. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2007.01846.x.

  46. Solberg, M. E., & Olweus, D. (2003). Prevalence estimation of school bullying with the Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire. Aggressive Behavior,29(3), 239–268. https://doi.org/10.1002/ab.10047.

  47. Sourander, A., Klomek, A. B., Ikonen, M., Lindroos, J., Luntamo, T., Koskelainen, M., et al. (2010). Psychosocial risk factors associated with cyberbullying among adolescents: A population-based study. Archives of General Psychiatry,67(7), 720–728. https://doi.org/10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2010.79.

  48. Ttofi, M. M., & Farrington, D. P. (2011). Effectiveness of school-based programs to reduce bullying: A systematic and meta-analytic review. Journal of Experimental Criminology,7(1), 27–56. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11292-010-9109-1.

  49. Vitoroulis, I., & Vaillancourt, T. (2015). Meta-analytic results of ethnic group differences in peer victimization. Aggressive Behavior,41(2), 149–170. https://doi.org/10.1002/ab.21564.

  50. Waasdorp, T. E., & Bradshaw, C. P. (2015). The Overlap Between Cyberbullying and Traditional Bullying. Journal of Adolescent Health,56(5), 483–488. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2014.12.002.

  51. Wachs, S., Junger, M., & Sittichai, R. (2015). Traditional, Cyber and Combined Bullying Roles: Differences in Risky Online and Offline Activities. Societies,5(1), 109–135. https://doi.org/10.3390/soc5010109.

  52. Wolke, D., Copeland, W. E., Angold, A., & Costello, E. J. (2013). Impact of bullying in childhood on adult health, wealth, crime, and social outcomes. Psychological Science,24(10), 1958–1970. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797613481608.

  53. Wolke, D., Lee, K., & Guy, A. (2017). Cyberbullying: A storm in a teacup? European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,26(8), 899–908. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-017-0954-6.

  54. Zych, I., Ortega-Ruiz, R., & Del Rey, R. (2015). Systematic review of theoretical studies on bullying and cyberbullying: Facts, knowledge, prevention, and intervention. Aggression and Violent Behavior,23, 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2015.10.001.

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank Qing Rong Chan, Rosie Lim, Jacky Tan, and Grace Yap for their assistance with data collection, and Denise Liu for her invaluable feedback on manuscripts drafts. We are grateful to the Ministry of Education Singapore, school principals, teachers, and counselors for their support and thank all students who participated in this research study.

Funding

Research reported in this manuscript was supported by Singapore Children’s Society and the National Healthcare Group Small Innovative Grant [grant number SIG/14007].

Author information

Correspondence to Jerrine Z. N. Khong.

Ethics declarations

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest related to this study.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Khong, J.Z.N., Tan, Y.R., Elliott, J.M. et al. Traditional Victims and Cybervictims: Prevalence, Overlap, and Association with Mental Health Among Adolescents in Singapore. School Mental Health 12, 145–155 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12310-019-09337-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • Bullying
  • Cyberbullying
  • Victim
  • Internalizing problems
  • Externalizing problems