Journal article

Exploring multivariate profiles of psychological distress and empathy in early adolescent victims, bullies, and bystanders involved in cyberbullying episodes

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  • 2022
Published in:
  • International journal of environmental research and public health. - 2022, vol. 19, no. 16, p. 9871
English (1) Background: Adolescents may be involved in cyberbullying as victims, perpetrators, or to a lesser extent, victim–perpetrators simultaneously. The present research investigated differences between participants acting in different bullying roles—namely, bully, victim, or bully/victim—and bystander roles—namely, defending, passive bystander, and passive/defending; (2) Methods: We used multivariate analysis of covariance to determine how, in the same individuals, direct involvement in cyberbullying episodes compares to participating in them as by-standers in relation to both psychological distress and empathy; (3) Results: Both victims and bully/victims were found to be at increased risk for suicidal ideation, internalizing and externalizing symptoms, and emotional dysregulation compared with students who were neither victims nor perpetrators of cyberbullying episodes. Additionally, victims showed higher empathy scores when compared with bullies and bully/victims. All bystander roles showed increased emotional dysregulation compared with uninvolved students, but no differences emerged on other psychological distress measures. Finally, defending bystanders showed increased cognitive empathy. (4) Conclusions: During early adolescence, the direct experience of cyberbullying, as a bully or a victim (or both), show a stronger association with psychological distress than the mere participation in cyberbullying as a witness, regardless of the witness acting defensive toward the victim, or passive. However, both cyberbullying and bystanding roles provide a similar (small) explicative power over empathy variables.
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