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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 63  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 86-88  

Cyberbullying among late adolescent: A cross-sectional study in two higher secondary schools of Kolkata, West Bengal

1 Medical Officer, Department of Community Medicine, Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
2 Assistant Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
3 Demonstrator, Department of Community Medicine, Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
4 Professor and HOD, Department of Community Medicine, Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
5 Resident Medical Officer, Department of General Medicine, R. G. Kar Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
6 Associate Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Date of Web Publication12-Mar-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Debasish Sinha
C/4 J, 35/1, RBC Road, Kolkata - 700 028, West Bengal
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijph.IJPH_92_18

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Cyberbullying is a newer phenomenon which is becoming more prevalent among adolescent students with the use of information technology. The objective of the study was to determine the prevalence of being cyberbullied among late adolescent and to study the behavior and the attitude on cyberbullying. It was a cross-sectional study conducted on 254 school students (15–19 years). Data were collected by self-administered questionnaire, and results were analyzed using SPSS version 20. About 210 (82.7%) students were using any form of social networking site and out of which 22 (10.5%) students were cyberbullied. Among those who were cyberbullied, the majority (16 [72.7%]) had no opinion and more than half (15 [68.2%]) sought their friends' help. Cyberbullying is emerging as a newer social problem in our country, where students' lack of awareness and understanding of it results in underreporting of cyberbullying incidents.

Keywords: Adolescents, attitude, behavior, cyberbullying

How to cite this article:
Mukherjee S, Sinha D, De A, Misra R, Pal A, Mondal TK. Cyberbullying among late adolescent: A cross-sectional study in two higher secondary schools of Kolkata, West Bengal. Indian J Public Health 2019;63:86-8

How to cite this URL:
Mukherjee S, Sinha D, De A, Misra R, Pal A, Mondal TK. Cyberbullying among late adolescent: A cross-sectional study in two higher secondary schools of Kolkata, West Bengal. Indian J Public Health [serial online] 2019 [cited 2022 May 17];63:86-8. Available from:

Internet use and other forms of communication technologies have become a convenient means of interaction but may put one's safety and emotional well-being at risk. Adolescents spend much of their leisure time in different social networking sites (SNSs) such as Facebook and WhatsApp and are able to socialize with complete strangers from remote parts of the world. Thus, they may become vulnerable to abuse, in the form of cyberbullying.[1]

Cyberbullying is an aggressive, intentional act, or behavior that is carried out by a group or an individual, using electronic forms of contact such as SNS, instant messengers, digital images/messages repeatedly, and overtime against a victim who cannot easily defend him or herself.[2] It involves the use of angry/vulgar language, harassing someone online, being rude or mean, posting insulting messages, and spreading rumors/posting gossip online to malign someone's reputation or impersonation.[3] It can be devastating for the victim as adolescents are not mature and resilient enough to tackle such issues, and hence, succumb to low self-esteem, social isolation, anxiety, depression, and even school dropout.[2]

The prevalence of being cyberbullied ranges from 4% to 72%.[2],[4],[5] A study conducted by Cyberbullying Research Center (by Justin W. Patchin and Sameer Hinduja)[5] in the USA, in 2016 where it had shown that 34% of students were cyberbullied. While a study in Chennai, India in 2014 had shown prevalence of 5.51%.[2]

Since cyberbullying is a relatively new phenomenon, limited information is available in this regard, especially in a developing country like India. The present study was conducted to determine the prevalence of being cyberbullied among late adolescents, to assess their behavior after being cyberbullied along with their their attitude on cyberbullying and to find out various factors associated with cyberbullying.

The study was a cross-sectional study carried out in 2 months (December 2017–February 2018). Two higher secondary schools of Borough IX in Kolkata Municipal Corporation area were chosen due to the limitation of time. From the lists provided by district inspector of schools, DI office of Kolkata, schools were selected by simple random sampling, and all students of Class IX to XII present at the time of data collection, fulfilling inclusion/exclusion criteria were included in the study.

Those who belonged to the age group of 15–19 years (late adolescent)[6] and were present at the time of the study and agreed to participate were included.

Those who withdrew consent for the study during interview or gave incomplete responses were excluded.

About 260 students were present at the time of the study, out of which 254 consented to participate in the study, so the final sample size was 254. The response rate was 97.69%.

Predesigned, pretested questionnaire developed by Willard [7] and Li.[3]

The questionnaire consisted of four parts. The first part assessed student's sociodemographic profile; second part assessed details regarding the use of SNS along with the presence of risky online behavior (any online behaviors such as accepting online request, posting personal information, posting inappropriate pictures/videos, sending personal information, or interacting with stranger). The third and fourth parts dealt with details of being cyberbullied (in the past 6 months) and attitude toward cyberbullying.

Permission from the Institutional Ethics Committee and Principal of respective schools were obtained. Data collection was started after assent for participation was obtained from the students and consent from their respective guardians. The purpose of the study was explained to students, and complete anonymity was maintained. Information related to sociodemographic profile, on being cyberbullied, behavior after being cyberbullied and attitude on cyberbullying were obtained through a self-administered questionnaire.

The data were compiled into MS Excel and were analyzed using SPSS (version 20, IBM, Chicago, Illinois). Continuous data were summarized as mean and median. Moreover, categorical data were summarized based on frequency and percentage. Pearson's Chi-squared test and bivariate logistic regression were done to find the strength of association between dependent and independent variables. Only those found to be significant on bivariate analysis underwent with multivariate logistic regression. P < 0.05 was considered as statistically significant. The dependent variable was nominally recorded as “cyberbullied” or “not cyberbullied,” dichotomous in nature, where “cyberbullied” = 1 and “not cyberbullied” = 0. Predictor variables were age, gender, religion, presence of risky online behavior, duration of use of Internet, attitude on cyberbullying and reporting of the incident to parents, teachers, or any adult. Attitude toward cyberbullying was assessed using 9-item questionnaire, where all the questions were based on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). The total score was calculated as per the response. The range of total attainable score was 9–45. Attitude score more than attained median score was defined as favorable attitude, with score less than or equal to attained median score was unfavorable attitude.

The mean age of the study participants was 15.6 (±1.4) years with more than half (148 [58.3%]) belonging to the age group of 15–17 years. Majority were female (155 [61%]) and Hindu (240 [94.4%]). Of 254, 210 (82.7%) were using SNS, with the majority (201 [95.7%]) of them using the Internet at home. The median duration of use of Internet daily was 2 h. The number of study participants who were cyberbullied was 22 (10.5%) [Table 1].
Table 1: Distribution of study participants based on their online activity

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The different types of risky online behavior while using SNS were depicted in [Table 2]. Out of 210 using SNS, 119 were female and 91 were male study participants. Most commonly reported behavior was accepting request online from stranger (105 [50%]), with least reported behavior was posting of inappropriate pictures/videos online (10 [4.8%]). In this study, interacting with stranger online is more common risky online behavior in girl students than boys, and the association was found to be significantly (P = 0.026).
Table 2: Prevalence of risky online behavior among study participants (n=210)

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Among those cyberbullied, the majority (16 [72.7%]) had no opinion. Less than one-third (6 [27.3%]) logged off from the online site and told a friend (6 [27.3%]) about the incident. More than half (15 [68.2%]) sought help from their friends (6 [27.3%]) from their parents while none from their teachers. Majority of the study participants (135 [53.1%]) using SNS thought people cyberbully for fun.

The median score of attitude on cyberbullying was 32. Of 210 students, majority (147 [70%]) were having favorable attitude (median score >32) toward cyberbullying. The variables which were found to be significant in bivariate logistic regression with being cyberbullied were gender, duration of Internet use, risky online behavior, and attitude on cyberbullying. The variable which remained significant after multivariate logistic regression was the duration of Internet use.

Cyberbullying is a common and serious problem in the Western world but is also becoming more common in the developing country like India with increase in the frequency of Internet use.

The present findings had shown that 82.7% were using any form of SNS, with the majority using Internet from their home, consistent with studies in Malaysia (Marret and Choo).[8] The most common risky online behavior was accepting requests online from strangers. The association between gender and risky online behaviors such as posting of inappropriate pictures/videos online and interacting with strangers came to be significant. Such similar findings were also seen in studies conducted in Australia (Shin and Ismail).[9]

The prevalence of being cyberbullied among late adolescent was 10.5%. This was similar to findings conducted on adolescents in Chennai, India (Lavanya and Kalpana).[2] and in western countries such as Finland and Europe (Lindfors et al).[10] Majority of adolescents sought help from their friends about cyberbullying incident while none took help from their teacher. This shows that those who were cyberbullied prefer to ignore or get away from such incident rather than informing the concerned authority.

The limitations of the study such as small sample size, inclusion, and exclusion criteria are likely to influence the prevalence of being cyberbullied.

Cyberbullying appears to be a newer problem among adolescent students that warrant specific measures to be taken to prevent it. Majority of those cyberbullied did not react to the incident, and a very few reported the incident to their friends. Further research on this area can be vetted by a series of studies considering the rise in the use of Internet among adolescents. Cyberbullying can be included in Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram as the age group corresponds well with it. The adventurous, risk-taking behavior and rebellious mindset of adolescent may put them in the risk of being cyberbullied. Such factors may be probed further with studies.


We would like to thank all the undergraduate students for their help in the conduct of the study and also the study participants for their cooperation.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Przybylski AK, Bowes L. Cyberbullying and adolescent well-being in England: A population-based cross-sectional study. Lancet Child Adolesc Health 2017;1:19-26.  Back to cited text no. 1
Lavanya R, Kalpana GP. A study on the prevalence of cyber bullying in Chennai. Middle East J Sci Res 2014;22:661-72.  Back to cited text no. 2
Li Q. Cyberbullying in high schools: A study of students' behaviours and beliefs about this new phenomenon. J Aggress Maltreat Trauma 2010;19:372-92.  Back to cited text no. 3
Juvonen J, Gross EF. Extending the school grounds? – Bullying experiences in cyberspace. J Sch Health 2008;78:496-505.  Back to cited text no. 4
Hinduja S, Patchin JW. Bullying, cyberbullying, and suicide. Arch Suicide Res 2010;14:206-21.  Back to cited text no. 5
Anthony D. The State of the World's Children: Adolescence – An Age of Opportunity. New York: United Children's Fund; 2011.  Back to cited text no. 6
Willard N. Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats. Champaign, IL: Research Press; 2011.  Back to cited text no. 7
Marret MJ, Choo WY. Factors associated with online victimisation among Malaysian adolescents who use social networking sites: A cross-sectional study. BMJ Open 2017;7:e014959.  Back to cited text no. 8
Shin W, Ismail N. Exploring the role of parents and peers in young adolescents' risk taking on social networking sites. Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw 2014;17:578-83.  Back to cited text no. 9
Lindfors PL, Kaltiala-Heino R, Rimpelä AH. Cyberbullying among Finnish adolescents – A population-based study. BMC Public Health 2012;12:1027.  Back to cited text no. 10


  [Table 1], [Table 2]


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