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Practice Profile

Cyberbullying Prevention and Intervention Programs

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:

Effective - One Meta-Analysis Juvenile Problem & At-Risk Behaviors - Bullying
Effective - One Meta-Analysis Victimization - Cyberbullying victimization

Practice Description

Practice Goals/Target Population
Cyberbullying intervention and prevention programs are designed to reduce or prevent negative online behaviors among school-aged children ages 9 to 19. Cyberbullying is commonly defined as an aggressive, intentional act carried out by an individual or a group using electronic forms of contact, repeatedly over time, against a target who cannot easily defend him or herself (Slonje, Smith, and Frisen 2013).

Practice Components
Cyberbullying intervention and prevention programs use several different approaches to discourage students from engaging in online bullying and to build the capacity to respond to negative online behaviors. In general, these approaches can be categorized as individual-level, multi-level systemic, and universal or whole school.

Individual-level strategies focus solely on the students in relation to online bullying perpetration and victimization. Programs teach students a variety of strategies to respond to online bullying, including using assertiveness or humor, seeking help from a parent or teacher, or disengaging from the interaction (e.g., by logging off a social media website or “blocking” bullies). Individual-level strategies may include helping students improve their emotional regulation skills and perceived self-efficacy to deal with cyberbullying (Cross et al. 2016).

The universal/whole-school approach involves schoolwide strategies for addressing cyberbullying at the classroom, teacher/staff, family, and student levels (Cantone et al. 2015). Assuming that bullying may be related to the general social climate at school, these programs focus on addressing how school relationships, environments, and policies and practices relate to online bullying behavior (Cantone et al. 2015).

The multi-level systemic approach incorporates some but not all the levels of the whole-school approach. These may include a combination of classroom-level, teacher/staff-level, family-level, or student-level strategies (Cantone et al. 2015). For example, a program may teach students how to respond to online bullying, and additionally assist staff to implement strategies for developing students’ social relationships and peer support. Similarly, a program may be designed to help teachers manage their students’ online behavior, but also disseminate resources about cyberbullying to the students’ parents. Resources for parents are typically designed to help them better understand the technologies used by their children and build their self-efficacy to help their children manage cyber environments (e.g., how to get help, and how to respond to cyberbullying incidents) (Cross et al. 2016).

Meta-Analysis Outcomes

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Effective - One Meta-Analysis Juvenile Problem & At-Risk Behaviors - Bullying
Looking at 9 independent effect sizes from randomized controlled trials, Gaffney and colleagues (2019) found a statistically significant reduction (OR = 1.34) in cyberbullying perpetration for students who participated in cyberbullying intervention or prevention programs, compared with control group students. This finding shows that participation in cyberbullying intervention or prevention programs can reduce online bullying behaviors among school-aged youth.
Effective - One Meta-Analysis Victimization - Cyberbullying victimization
Looking at 10 independent effect sizes from randomized controlled trials, Gaffney and colleagues (2019) found a statistically significant reduction (OR = 1.228) in cyberbullying victimization for students who participated in cyberbullying intervention or prevention programs, compared with control group students. This finding shows that participation in cyberbullying intervention or prevention programs can reduce victimization from online bullying among school-aged youth.
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Meta-Analysis Methodology

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Meta-Analysis Snapshot
 Literature Coverage DatesNumber of StudiesNumber of Study Participants
Meta-Analysis 12012 - 20182436534

Meta-Analysis 1
Gaffney and colleagues (2019) conducted a meta-analysis to examine the effect of cyberbullying intervention and prevention programs on reducing bullying and victimization among school-aged children and adolescents. For studies to be included in the review, they had to meet the following criteria: 1) defined cyberbullying as an aggressive, intentional act, carried out by a group or individual, using electronic forms of contact repeatedly and over time, and against victims who cannot defend themselves (Slonje, Smith, and Frisen 2013); 2) described the evaluation of an intervention or prevention program implemented with school-aged participants between the ages of 4 and 18; 3) employed experimental and control conditions; 4) measured cyberbullying behaviors using quantitative measurement instruments; and 5) were published from 2000 onward.

The researchers identified relevant published and unpublished studies from 2000 to 2017 through a systematic review of the several electronic databases and from hand searches of relevant journals. Studies were excluded if outcomes related to internet harassment, online harassment, electronic aggression, or traditional school-bullying perpetration and/or victimization. Quasi-experimental studies were excluded if the program did not measure cyberbullying behaviors before and after implementation. Randomized controlled trial designs that included before and after measures were preferred, but these measures were not required. Studies using university students, juvenile delinquents, or clinical samples were excluded.

The search resulted in a sample of 24 eligible studies. Two of these presented findings from multiple evaluations, thus resulting in a total of 26 independent evaluations. Several studies used overlapping samples that were then excluded from the meta-analysis. The final sample for the meta-analysis included 18 independent evaluations, 11 of which used randomized controlled trial designs and 7 of which used quasi-experimental designs. This CrimeSolutions.gov review focused on the analysis of randomized controlled trial studies. Therefore, results were based on 10 independent effect sizes for cyberbullying perpetration and 11 independent effect sizes for cyberbullying victimization across the 11 included studies. The 11 studies included a total sample size of 31,995 youths. Two studies were conducted in the United States, two were conducted in Germany, and the others were conducted in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Greece, the Netherlands, and Spain.

The authors calculated effect sizes for continuous variables using a standardized mean difference formula (Cohen’s d). Effect sizes for dichotomous variables were estimated using odds ratio effect sizes. The authors reported mean effect sizes for impact of cyberbullying programs on bullying perpetration and bullying victimization using three models: fixed effects, random effects, and multiplicative variance adjustment (MVA).
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Cost

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There is no cost information available for this practice.
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Evidence-Base (Meta-Analyses Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the practice profile:

Meta-Analysis 1
Gaffney, Hannah, David P. Farrington, Dorothy L. Espelage, and Maria M. Ttofi. 2019. “Are Cyberbullying Intervention and Prevention Programs Effective? A Systematic and Meta-Analytical Review.” Aggression and Violent Behavior 45:134–53.
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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the practice profile:

Cantone, Elisa, Anna P. Piras, Marcello Vellante, Antonello Preti, Sigrun Daníelsdóttir, Ernesto D’Aloja, Sigita Lesinskiene, Mathias C Angermeyer, Mauro G. Carta, and Dinesh Bhugra. 2015. “Interventions on Bullying and Cyberbullying in Schools: A Systematic Review.” Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health 11(Suppl 1 M4):58–76.

Cross, Donna, Thérèse Shaw, Kate Hadwen, Patricia Cardoso, Phillip Slee, Clare Roberts, Laura Thomas, and Amy Barnes. 2016. “Longitudinal Impact of the Cyber Friendly Schools Program on Adolescents’ Cyberbullying Behavior.” Aggressive Behavior 42(2):166–80.

Slonje, Robert, Peter K. Smith, and Ann Frisén. 2013. “The Nature of Cyberbullying, and Strategies for Prevention.” Computers in Human Behavior 29(1):26–32.
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Related Programs

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Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated programs that are related to this practice:

KiVa Antibullying Program Promising - More than one study
This school-based program delivered to elementary school students to reduce bullying and victimization was designed for national use in the Finnish comprehensive schools. This program is rated Promising. There were statistically significant reductions for self-reported bullying and victimization and peer-reported victimization for KiVa schools compared with control schools; however, there were no significant differences between treatment and comparison schools on peer-reported bullying.

Second Step: Student Success Through Prevention Middle School Program (2008 Edition) No Effects - One study
This is a universal, school-based social-emotional learning program aimed at reducing violence and encouraging academic success among middle school students. The program is rated No Effects. While the program had a statistically significant impact on reducing physical aggression, there was no statistically significant impact on sexual-violence victimization and perpetration, peer victimization, bullying victimization and perpetration, cyberbullying, or homophobic name calling.
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Practice Snapshot

Age: 9 - 19

Gender: Both

Settings: School

Practice Type: Bullying Prevention/Intervention, Classroom Curricula, Conflict Resolution/Interpersonal Skills, School/Classroom Environment

Unit of Analysis: Persons