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Differential Longitudinal Outcomes of In-Person and Cyber Victimization in Early Adolescence

NCJ Number
Psychology of Violence Volume: 10 Issue: 4 Dated: 2020 Pages: 367-378
Date Published
12 pages

Since few studies have tested a commonly held assumption that cyber victimization is more harmful than in-person victimization, this study examined differential longitudinal relations between in-person and cyber victimization and outcomes, including problem behaviors and distress symptoms; possible moderation by gender and grade was also explored. 


Participants were 1,542 6th-, 7th-, and 8th-grade students (77 percent African American or Black; 21 percent Latino/a) who completed surveys in the fall, winter, spring, and summer. The study found that the two forms of victimization combined to predict increases in physical and relational aggression, cyberbullying, and delinquency, but victimization did not predict increases in distress or substance use. There were generally no differences in the strength of relations between in-person and cyber victimization for longitudinal outcomes, although there were some cross-sectional differences. Cyber victimization predicted increases in delinquency for boys but not for girls, but there were no other differences in effects across gender or grade. Overall, there was little support for the argument that cyber victimization produces greater harm than in-person victimization. Future research that examines outcomes of cyber victimization should focus on longitudinal relations, given the different patterns of outcomes in this study’s cross-sectional and longitudinal findings. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2020