October 27, 2017
2 min read

Adolescent girls more likely to be victims of cyberbullying

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Adolescent females were more likely to report experiencing cyberbullying and had higher levels of panic/somatic and school-related anxiety symptoms, according to data presented at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry annual meeting.

“Cyberbullying is a major public health threat associated with increased psychiatric morbidity and mortality in youths,” Samantha B. Saltz, MD, of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Jackson Memorial Hospital, and colleagues wrote. “We have previously shown that adolescent inpatients with psychiatric disorders who endorsed recent cyberbullying victimhood reported higher levels of emotional abuse, anger, depression, and dissociation.”

To assess associations between recent cyberbullying, child abuse and neglect, anxiety and depression among adolescent outpatients, researchers administered questionnaires to 50 patients aged 12 to 17 years presenting to an outpatient psychiatric clinic. Participants completed the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), the Children’s Depression Inventory 2 (CDI2), and the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Disorders (SCARED).

All participants reported frequent internet access and most reported using one or more types of social media at least daily.

Ten percent of participants reported being victims of cyberbullying, compared with 20% in a previous inpatient study conducted by the researchers.

Cyberbullying victimhood was more frequently reported among females, compared with males (14.8% vs. 4.3%).

There were no significant differences between cyberbullying victims and nonvictims on the CTQ subscales. This is contrary to findings of the previous inpatient study, which indicated cyberbullying was associated with higher emotional abuse scores on the CTQ.

CDI2 scores were 1.25 times higher among victims of cyberbullying, compared with nonvictims (P = .03).

SCARED scores were two times higher for panic/somatic symptoms (P = .02) and 2.3 times higher (P = .03) for high school avoidance among female cyberbullying victims, compared with female nonvictims.


“Recent cyberbullying victimhood appears to be common among adolescent females, substantially more common among adolescent females than males, associated with higher levels of panic/somatic and school-related anxiety symptoms in adolescent females and associated with higher levels of depression in adolescents in the psychiatric outpatient setting,” the researchers wrote. “Cyberbullying may be less common and less strongly associated with emotional abuse among adolescents in the psychiatric outpatient setting compared with the inpatient setting.” – by Amanda Oldt


Saltz SB, et al. Association of recent cyberbullying with other forms of maltreatment, anxiety, and depression among adolescents in an outpatient setting. Presented at: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry annual meeting; Oct. 23-28, 2017; Washington, D.C.

Disclosure: Saltz reports no relevant financial disclosures.