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Keywords:

  • cyberbullying;
  • traditional bullying;
  • victimisation;
  • longitudinal;
  • risk factors

ABSTRACT

Cyberbullying has emerged as a new form of antisocial behaviour in the context of online communication over the last decade. The present study investigates potential longitudinal risk factors for cyberbullying. A total of 835 Swiss seventh graders participated in a short-term longitudinal study (two assessments 6 months apart). Students reported on the frequency of cyberbullying, traditional bullying, rule-breaking behaviour, cybervictimisation, traditional victimisation, and frequency of online communication (interpersonal characteristics). In addition, we assessed moral disengagement, empathic concern, and global self-esteem (intrapersonal characteristics). Results showed that traditional bullying, rule-breaking behaviour, and frequency of online communication are longitudinal risk factors for involvement in cyberbullying as a bully. Thus, cyberbullying is strongly linked to real-world antisocial behaviours. Frequent online communication may be seen as an exposure factor that increases the likelihood of engaging in cyberbullying. In contrast, experiences of victimisation and intrapersonal characteristics were not found to increase the longitudinal risk for cyberbullying over and above antisocial behaviour and frequency of online communication. Implications of the findings for the prevention of cyberbullying are discussed. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.