Traditional bullying (or peer bullying) is considered a common and unpleasant experience among students and has serious consequences such as mental health problems and unhealthy behavior. In recent years, another type of bullying named cyberbullying has emerged as a growing problem with negative effects on school achievement, physiology, and mental health of its victims.
The purpose of this research is to examine and compare the roles of traditional and cyberbullying victimization in substance use, self-harm and suicide attempts.
This was a cross-sectional study and conducted in 2019. A total of 425 high school students were selected for the study in Kermanshah, Iran. For conducting the survey, a multi-stage cluster randomized procedure was used and 18 classes in six different high schools in three urban areas were selected. A total of 400 students (mean age 16.61 years, 53.2% girls) responded to the survey, and it provided usable information for the research. Data were analyzed through binary logistic regression analyses.
The analysis results revealed that 54.2% of students (n = 217) have experienced traditional or cyber victimization. Any kind of victimization was associated with self-harm. Cyber victimization alone and the combination of cyber plus traditional victimization showed significant association with suicide and substance use. Risk of substance use, self-harm, and suicide was higher when students experienced both types of bullying than when they experienced just one kind of bullying alone.
The results of this study suggest that traditional and cyber victims may require immediate intervention to reduce the negative effects of victimization. Also, prevention programs should consider the possible relationship between traditional and cyber victimization and substance use, self-harm, and suicide.