Traditional Bullying and Cyberbullying among Swedish Adolescents : Gender differences and associations with mental health

Abstract: The aim of this thesis is to study the differences between traditional bullying and cyberbullying among adolescents, focusing on gender, psychosomatic problems, and disability, and to gain insight into health staff’s experience of bullying in schools.The four studies in this thesis were based on surveys undertaken among 3,800 adolescents in Grades 7, 8 and 9 in Sweden, as well as focus groups of 16 people consisting of school social workers and school nurses.While almost no gender differences were found among traditional victims, Study I showed that girls were more likely than boys to be cybervictims. Boys were more likely than girls to be traditional bullies, while girls were equally as likely as boys to be cyberbullies. Study II showed that psychosomatic problems were associated with being a victim, a bully or a bully-victim. Cyberbullying showed no stronger association with psychosomatic problems than traditional bullying. Study III: Three main categories emerged from school health staff’s experience: 1) “Anti-bullying team”; 2) “Working style”; and 3) “Perspectives on bullying”. The last two each comprised two sub-categories: “Team member”/“Single worker”; and “Contextual perspective”/“Individual-oriented perspective”. Study IV showed that, regardless of gender and grade, students with a disability were more likely to be bully-victims and, more particularly, bully-victims involved in both traditional bullying and cyberbullying. No differences between disabled adolescents and others were found with respect to the association between bullying and psychosomatic health.The results show that some adolescents are more likely to experience higher levels of psychosomatic health problems than others. They also show that some adolescents are more likely to be involved in bullying, either as victims, bullies or bully-victims. This thesis also discusses contextual and individual approaches adopted by schools in preventing bullying.