Cyberbullying Prevalence Among US Middle and High School–Aged Adolescents: A Systematic Review and Quality Assessment

  • Author Footnotes
    1 Present Address: University of Michigan, Pediatrics—Adolescent Medicine, 300 North Ingalls Building, 6C15A, SPC 5456, Ann Arbor, MI 48109.
    Ellen M. Selkie
    Address correspondence to: Ellen M. Selkie, M.D., M.P.H., Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Seattle Children's Hospital, University of Washington, M/S CSB-200, PO Box 5371, Seattle, WA 98145-5005.
    1 Present Address: University of Michigan, Pediatrics—Adolescent Medicine, 300 North Ingalls Building, 6C15A, SPC 5456, Ann Arbor, MI 48109.
    Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Seattle Children's Hospital, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

    Center for Child Health, Behavior, and Development, Seattle Children's Research Institute, Seattle, Washington
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  • Jessica L. Fales
    Center for Child Health, Behavior, and Development, Seattle Children's Research Institute, Seattle, Washington

    Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences, Washington State University Vancouver, Vancouver, Washington
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  • Megan A. Moreno
    Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Seattle Children's Hospital, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

    Center for Child Health, Behavior, and Development, Seattle Children's Research Institute, Seattle, Washington
    Search for articles by this author
  • Author Footnotes
    1 Present Address: University of Michigan, Pediatrics—Adolescent Medicine, 300 North Ingalls Building, 6C15A, SPC 5456, Ann Arbor, MI 48109.



      Cyberbullying (CB) has established links to physical and mental health problems including depression, suicidality, substance use, and somatic symptoms. Quality reporting of CB prevalence is essential to guide evidence-based policy and prevention priorities. The purpose of this systematic review was to investigate study quality and reported prevalence among CB research studies conducted in populations of US adolescents of middle and high school age.


      Searches of peer-reviewed literature published through June 2015 for “CB” and related terms were conducted using PubMed, PsycINFO, CINAHL Plus, and Web of Science. Included manuscripts reported CB prevalence in general populations of US adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 years. Using a review tool based on the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology statement, reviewers independently scored study quality on study methods, results reporting, and reported prevalence.


      Search results yielded 1,447 manuscripts; 81 manuscripts representing 58 unique studies were identified as meeting inclusion criteria. Quality scores ranged between 12 and 37 total points of a possible 42 points (mean = 26.7, standard deviation = 4.6). Prevalence rates of CB ranged as follows: Perpetration, 1%–41%; victimization, 3%–72%; and overlapping perpetration and victimization, 2.3%–16.7%.


      Literature on CB in US middle and high school–aged students is robust in quantity but inconsistent in quality and reported prevalence. Consistent definitions and evidence-based measurement tools are needed.


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