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Holfeld, B., & Leadbeater, B. J. (2015). The nature and frequency of cyber bullying behaviors and victimization experiences in young Canadian children. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 30, 116-135.

Cyberbullying is bullying through the use of electronic communications; it can be characterized by aggressive, repeated, and intentional acts that involve an imbalance of power between the bully and victim. It can be transmitted anonymously.

Method: Participants included hundreds of 5th and 6th grade Canadian students. To assess cyberbullying, participants reported the frequency of engagement in the past 30 days on a 5-point scale (0=never, 1=once or twice, 2= a few times, 3= many times, 4= every day) for four behaviors (“Have you ever sent someone a text message on your cellphone to make them angry or to make fun of them?’’; “Have you posted something online about someone else to make other people laugh?”; “Have you started a rumor online about another person?’’; and “Have you posted or shared a picture of someone that they wouldn’t want everyone to see?’’) To assess cyberbullying victims, participants reported the frequency of experiences in the past 30 days on a 5-point scale for four experiences (“Have you received a text message on your cellphone that made you upset or uncomfortable?’’; “Has someone posted something on your online page or wall that made you upset or uncomfortable?’’; “Have you been afraid to go online?’’; Has anyone posted or shared a message about you online that you didn’t want others to see?’’). Peer victimization was assessed using the Social Experience Questionnaire (Crick & Grotpeter, 1996). Five items asked participants about relational victimization and five items asked about physical victimization. Physical bullying behavior was assessed using the Early School Behavior Rating Scale for teachers (Caldwell & Pianta, 1991) and the Behavior Assessment System for Children for parents (Reynolds & Kamphaus, 2004).

Results: Cyberbullying and victimization were positively correlated with physical and relational victimization. Bullying was positively associated with cyberbullying and victimization. Cyberbullying behaviors were more frequent for 6th grade students compared with 5th grade students. More than one fourth of students reported cyberbullying victimization experiences. Cyberbullying victimization was more frequent for 6th grade students compared with 5th grade students. Girls were more likely to report cyberbullying victimization experiences compared with boys.

Discussion: Rates of cyber victimization were higher for girls. Cyberbullying behaviors and experiences were greater for older children. Education and understanding how others may be affected by their behavior may help reduce cyberbullying.