The effectiveness of safe surfing, an anti-cyberbullying intervention program in reducing online and offline bullying and improving perceived popularity and self-esteem



Schools have been fighting cyberbullying through intervention programs, yet few interventions have been empirically evaluated. This study evaluates the effectiveness of a Safe Surfing anti-cyberbullying intervention program that is based on the theory of planned behavior in reducing bullying online and offline and improving student-perceived popularity and self-esteem. It was hypothesized that from pre- to post-intervention online and offline bullying rates will decrease; students’ negative perception of popularity will decrease; students’ self-esteem will increase, and; in classrooms where there has been a greater decrease in online and offline bullying following the intervention there will be a greater improvement in students’ negative perception of popularity and self-esteem. Data were collected from 1,550 students (53% males) in 3rd to 11th grades from 69 classes in 19 primary (68%), middle and high (32%) public schools in Israel. The students answered online questionnaires pre- and post-intervention. Results indicated a significant decrease in bullying online and offline post-intervention. Also, a significant improvement in perceived popularity and self-esteem was obtained among primary school students. The decrease in bullying online and offline was significantly associated with an improvement in perceived popularity and self-esteem. The study provides support for the positive role that school-based interventions against cyberbullying can have, and demonstrates that schools can make a difference in the way their students consume social networks. The findings also contribute to the debate about the co-occurrence between traditional bullying and cyberbullying. The findings may encourage school principals to approach peer victimization with a broader view and to develop intervention programs that capture students’ social experiences more holistically.

Cyberbullying, social networks, traditional bullying, intervention programs, self-esteem, perceived popularity, students

Adler, P. A., Kless, S. J., & Adler, P. (1992). Socialization to gender roles: Popularity among elementary school boys and girls. Sociology of Education, 65(3), 169–187.

Aizenkot, D. (2017a). שיימינג בווטסאפ בקרב ילדים ובני נוער בישראל: מחקר חלוץ [WhatsApp cyberbullying among children and adolescents in Israel: A pilot research]. Educational Counseling, 20, 363–389.

Aizenkot, D. (2017b). גולשים בטוח: תכנית התערבות למניעת פגיעה ברשת ולטיפוח תקשורת מיטבית לבית הספר היסודי, כיתות ד'-ו' [Safe Surfing: Intervention program for online safe communication].

Aizenkot, D., & Kashy-Rosenbaum, G. (2018). Cyberbullying in WhatsApp classmates’ groups: Evaluation of a prevention program implemented in Israeli elementary and middle schools. New Media & Society, 20(12), 4709–4727.

Aizenkot, D., & Kashy-Rosenbaum, G. (2019). Cyberbullying victimization in WhatsApp classmate groups among Israeli elementary, middle, and high school students. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Advance online publication.

Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50(2), 179–211.

Badaly, D., Kelly, B. M., Schwartz, D., & Dabney-Lieras, K. (2013). Longitudinal associations of electronic aggression and victimization with social standing during adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42(6), 891–904.

Barkoukis, V., Lazuras, L., Ourda, D., & Tsorbatzoudis, H. (2016). Tackling psychosocial risk factors for adolescent cyberbullying: Evidence from a school-based intervention. Aggressive Behavior, 42(2), 114–122.

Beldean-Galea, I. E., Ţigan, Ş. I., Stan, C., & Dobrean, A. (2012). Efficacy study of a primary intervention school violence program. Applied Medical Informatics, 31(3), 47–54.

Brighi, A., Guarini, A., Melotti, G., Galli, S., & Genta, M. L. (2012). Predictors of victimisation across direct bullying, indirect bullying and cyberbullying. Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 17(3-4), 375–388.

Brown, S. L., Birch, D. A., & Kancherla, V. (2005). Bullying perspectives: Experiences, attitudes, and recommendations of 9- to 13-year-olds attending health education centers in the United States. Journal of School Health, 75(10), 384–392.

Cantone, E., Piras, A. P., Vellante, M., Preti. A, Daníelsdóttir, S., D’Aloja, E., Lesinskiene, S., Anermeyer, M. C., Carta, M. G., & Bhugra, D. (2015). Interventions on bullying and cyberbullying in schools: A systematic review. Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health, 11, 58–76.

Chaux, E., Velásquez, A. M., Schultze-Krumbholz, A., & Scheithauer, H. (2016). Effects of the cyberbullying prevention program media heroes (Medienhelden) on traditional bullying. Aggressive Behavior, 42(2), 157–165.

Closson, L. M., & Wantanabe, L. (2018). Popularity in the peer group and victimization within friendship cliques during early adolescence. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 38(3), 327–351.

Cook, C. R., Williams, K. R., Guerra, N. G., Kim, T. E., & Sadek, S. (2010). Predictors of bullying and victimization in childhood and adolescence: A meta-analytic investigation. School Psychology Quarterly, 25(2), 65–83.

Craig, W., Harel-Fisch, Y., Fogel-Grinvald, H., Dostaler, S., Hetland, J., Simons-Morton, B., Molcho, M., de Mato, M. G., Overpeck, M., Due, P., Pickett, W., the HBSC Violence & Injuries Prevention Focus Group, & the HBSC Bullying Writing Group (2009). A cross-national profile of bullying and victimization among adolescents in 40 countries. International Journal of Public Health, 54(2), 216–224.

de Bruyn, E. H., Cillessen, A. H. N., & Wissink, I. B. (2010). Associations of peer acceptance and perceived popularity with bullying and victimization in early adolescence. Journal of Early Adolescence, 30(4), 543–566.

de Bruyn, E. H., & van den Boom, D. C. (2005). Interpersonal behavior, peer popularity and self-esteem in early adolescence. Social Development, 14(4), 555–573.

Desjarlais, M., & Willoughby, T. (2010). A longitudinal study of the relation between adolescent boys and girls’ computer use with friends and friendship quality: Support for the social compensation or the rich-get-richer hypothesis? Computers in Human Behavior, 26(5), 896–905.

Durlak, J. A., & DuPre, E. P. (2008). Implementation matters: A review of research on the influence of implementation on program outcomes and the factors affecting implementation. American Journal of Community Psychology, 41(3-4), 327–350.

Erdur-Baker, Ö. (2010). Cyberbullying and its correlation to traditional bullying, gender and frequent and risky usage of internet-mediated communication tools. New Media & Society, 12(1), 109–125.

Erdur Baker, Ö., & Tanrıkulu, İ., (2009). Cyber bullying in Turkey its correlates and links to depressive symptoms. Journal of eHealth Technology and Application, 7, 16–23.

Extremera, N., Quintana-Orts, C., Mérida-López, S., & Rey, L. (2018). Cyberbullying victimization, self-esteem and suicidal ideation in adolescence: Does emotional intelligence play a buffering role? Frontiers in Psychology, 9, Article 367.

Gaffney, H., Farrington, D. P., Espelage, D. L., & Ttofi, M. M. (2019). Are cyberbullying intervention and prevention programs effective? A systematic and meta-analytical review. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 45, 134–153.

Garaigordobil, M., & Martínez-Valderrey, V. (2015). Effects of Cyberprogram 2.0 on “face-to-face” bullying, cyberbullying, and empathy. Psicothema, 27(1), 45–51.

Gradinger, P., Strohmeier, D., Schiller, E. M., Stefanek, E., & Spiel, C. (2012). Cyber-victimization and popularity in early adolescence: Stability and predictive associations. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 9(2), 228–243.

Hank, P., & Baltes-Götz, B. (2019). The stability of self-esteem variability: A real-time assessment. Journal of Research in Personality, 79, 143–150.

Heiman, T., & Olenik-Shemesh, D. (2015). Cyberbullying experience and gender differences among adolescents in different educational settings. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 48(2), 146–155.

Heirman, W., & Walrave, M. (2012). Predicting adolescent perpetration in cyberbullying: An application of the theory of planned behavior. Psicothema, 24(4), 614–620.

Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (2010). Bullying, cyberbullying, and suicide. Archives of Suicide Research, 14(3), 206–221.

Hinduja. S., & Patchin, J. W. (2008). Cyberbullying: An exploratory analysis of factors related to offending and victimization. Deviant Behavior, 29(2), 129–156.

Hobfoll, S. E., & Walfisch, S. (1984). Coping with a threat to life: A longitudinal study of self-concept, social support, and psychological distress. American Journal of Community Psychology, 12(1), 87–100.

Israeli Ministry of Education (2015). הנהלים לפעילות מחקרית במערכת החינוך [Procedures for research activity in the education system].

Juvonen, J., & Gross, E. F. (2008). Extending the school grounds?—Bullying experiences in cyberspace. Journal of School Health, 78(9), 496–505.

Konkabaeva, A. E., Kusherbaev, S. A., Kystaubaeva, Z. T., Tykezhanova, G. M., & Sadykova, A. J. (2013). The influence of study load on the psycho-emotional state of schoolchildren at schools of innovative type. Evropejskij Issledovatelʹ, 39(1-2), 109–113.

Kowalski, R. M., & Limber, S. P. (2007). Electronic bullying among middle school students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 41(Suppl. 6), S22–S30.

Kowalski, R. M., & Limber, S. P. (2013). Psychological, physical, and academic correlates of cyberbullying and traditional bullying. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53(Suppl. 1), S13–S20.

Kowalski, R. M., Morgan, C. A., & Limber, S. P. (2012). Traditional bullying as a potential warning sign of cyberbullying. School Psychology International, 33(5), 505–519.

LaFontana, K. M., & Cillessen, A. H. N. (2010). Developmental changes in the priority of perceived status in childhood and adolescence. Social Development, 19(1), 130–147.

Law, D. M., Shapka, J. D., Hymel, S., Olson, B. F., & Waterhouse, T. (2012). The changing face of bullying: An empirical comparison between traditional and internet bullying and victimization. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(1), 226–232.

Lazuras, L., Barkoukis, V., & Tsorbatzoudis, H. (2017). Face-to-face bullying and cyberbullying in adolescents: Trans-contextual effects and role overlap. Technology in Society, 48, 97–101.

Li, Q. (2007). Bullying in the new playground: Research into cyberbullying and cyber victimization. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 23(4), 435–454.

Litwack, S. D., Aikins, J. W., & Cillessen, A. H. N. (2012). The distinct roles of sociometric and perceived popularity in friendship: Implications for adolescent depressive affect and self-esteem. Journal of Early Adolescence, 32(2), 226–251.

Lonardo, R. A., Giordano, P. C., Longmore, M. A., & Manning, W. D. (2009). Parents, friends, and romantic partners: Enmeshment in deviant networks and adolescent delinquency involvement. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 38(3), 367–383.

Machimbarrena, J. M., Calvete, E., Fernández-González, L., Álvarez-Bardón, A., Álvarez-Fernández, L., & González-Cabrera, J. (2018). Internet risks: An overview of victimization in cyberbullying, cyber dating abuse, sexting, online grooming and problematic Internet use. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(11), Article 2471.

Marsh, H. W., & O’Mara, A. (2008). Reciprocal effects between academic self-concept, self-esteem, achievement, and attainment over seven adolescent years: Unidimensional and multidimensional perspectives of self-concept. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(4), 542–552.

Martínez-Ferrer, B., Moreno, D., & Musitu, G. (2018). Are adolescents engaged in the problematic use of social networking sites more involved in peer aggression and victimization? Frontiers in Psychology, 9, Article 801.

Mayeux, L., Houser, J. J., & Dyches, K. D. (2011). Social acceptance and popularity: Two distinct forms of peer status. In A. H. N. Cillessen, D. Schwartz, & L. Mayeux (Eds.). Popularity in the peer system (pp. 79–102). The Guilford Press.

Mitchell, K. J., & Jones, L. M. (2015). Cyberbullying and bullying must be studied within a broader peer victimization framework. The Journal of Adolescent Health, 56(5), 473–474.

Navarro, R., Yubero, S., & Larrañaga, E. (2015). Psychosocial risk factors for involvement in bullying behaviors: Empirical comparison between cyberbullying and social bullying victims and bullies. School Mental Health, 7(4), 235–248.

O’Keeffe, G. S., Clarke-Pearson, K., & Council on Communications and Media. (2011). On Communications and media. Clinical report-the impact of social media on children, adolescents, and families. Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 127, 800–804.

Olweus, D. (1991). Victimization among school children. In R. Baenninger (Ed.), Advances in psychology (Vol. 76, pp. 45–102). Elsevier.

Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do. Blackwell Publishing.

Olweus, D. (1994). Bullying at school: Basic facts and effects of a school based intervention program. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 35(7), 1171–1190.

Olweus, D. (2013). School bullying: Development and some important challenges. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 9, 751–780.

Ortega-Barón, J., Buelga, S., Ayllón, E., Martínez-Ferrer, B., & Cava, M.-J. (2019). Effects of intervention program Prev@cib on traditional bullying and cyberbullying. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(4), Article 527.

Palermiti, A. L., Servidio, R., Bartolo, M. G., & Costabile, A. (2017). Cyberbullying and self-esteem: An Italian study. Computers in Human Behavior, 69, 136–141.

Palladino, B. E., Nocentini, A., & Menesini, E. (2016). Evidence-based intervention against bullying and cyberbullying: Evaluation of the NoTrap! program in two independent trials. Aggressive Behavior, 42(2), 194–206.

Parkhurst, J. T., & Hopmeyer, A. (1998). Sociometric popularity and peer-perceived popularity: Two distinct dimensions of peer status. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 18(2), 125–144.

Patchin, J. W., & Hinduja, S. (2006). Bullies move beyond the schoolyard: A preliminary look at cyberbullying. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 4(2), 148–169.

Patchin, J. W., & Hinduja, S. (2010). Cyberbullying and self-esteem. Journal of School Health, 80(12), 614–621.

Patchin, J.W., & Hinduja, S. (2012). Cyberbullying: An update and synthesis of the research. In J.W. Patchin, & S. Hinduja (Eds.), Cyberbullying prevention and response: Expert perspectives (pp. 13–35). New York: Routledge.

Payne, A. A., & Hutzell, K. L. (2017). Old wine, new bottle? Comparing Interpersonal bullying and cyberbullying victimization. Youth & Society, 49(8), 1149–1178.

Pellegrini, A. D., Roseth, C. J., Ryzin, M. J. V., & Solberg, D. W. (2011). Popularity as a form of social dominance: An evolutionary perspective. In A. H. N. Cillessen, D. Schwartz, & L. Mayeux (Eds.). Popularity in the peer system (pp. 123–139). The Guilford Press.

Perren, S., Dooley, J., Shaw, T., & Cross, D. (2010). Bullying in school and cyberspace: Associations with depressive symptoms in Swiss and Australian adolescents. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, 4, Article 28.

Pham, T., & Adesman, A. (2015). Teen victimization: Prevalence and consequences of traditional and cyberbullying. Current Opinion in Pediatrics, 27(6), 748–756.

Piers, E.V., & Harris, D. B. (2002). Piers-Harris Children's Self-Concept Scale: Second Edition. Western Psychological Services.

RAMA-The national authority for measurement and evaluation in education. (2016). ניטור רמת האלימות בבתי הספר על-פי דיווחי תלמידים: נתונים מתוך סקרי ניטור אלימות תשע"ה, תשע"ג, תשע"א ותשס"ט [Monitoring the level of violence in schools according to student reports: Data from violence analysis surveys].

Ranney, J. D., & Troop-Gordon, W. (2020). The role of popularity and digital self-monitoring in adolescents' cyberbehaviors and cybervictimization. Computers in Human Behavior, 102, 293–302.

Roberto, A. J., & Eden, J. (2010). Cyberbullying: Aggressive communication in a digital age. In T. Avtgis & A. S. Rancer (Eds.), Arguments, aggression, and conflict: New directions in theory and research (pp. 198–216). Routledge.

Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton University Press.

Runions, K. C. (2013). Toward a conceptual model of motive and self-control in cyber-aggression: Rage, revenge, reward and recreation. Journal of Adolescence, 42(5), 751–771.

Sandstrom, M. J., & Cillessen, A. H. N. (2006). Likeable versus popular: Distinct implications for adolescent adjustment. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 30(4), 305–314.

Shapiro, S. S., & Wilk, M. B. (1965). An analysis of variance test for normality (complete samples). Biometrika, 52(3-4), 591–611.

Shorkey, C. T., & Whiteman, V. L. (1978). Correlations between standard English and dialectical Spanish versions of five personality scales. Psychological Reports, 43(3), 910–910.

Silber, E., & Tippett, J. S. (1965). Self-esteem: Clinical assessment and measurement validation. Psychological Reports, 16(Suppl. 3), 1017-1071.

Slonje, R., & Smith, P. K. (2008). Cyberbullying: Another main type of bullying? Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 49(2), 147-154.

Slonje, R., Smith, P. K., & Frisén, A. (2017). Perceived reasons for the negative impact of cyberbullying and traditional bullying. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 14(3), 295–310.

Stice, E., Ragan, J., & Randall, P. (2004). Prospective relations between social support and depression: Differential direction of effects for parent and peer support? Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 113(1), 155–159.

Sullivan, H. S. (1953). The interpersonal theory of psychiatry. Norton.

Tanrikulu, İ. (2018). Cyberbullying prevention and intervention programs in schools: A systematic review. School Psychology International, 39(1), 74–91.

Tanrikulu, İ. (2019). How do school children learn cyberbullying perpetration? Journal of Theoretical Educational Science, 12(1), 16–27.

Telegina, N. V., & Belicheva, T. V. (2016). The criteria of adaptation of primary school pupils to the academic load of the increased intensity. International Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 11(8), 2059–2067.

Tokunaga, R. S. (2010). Following you home from school: A critical review and synthesis of research on cyberbullying victimization. Computers in Human Behavior, 26(3), 277–287.

Trzesniewski, K. H., Donnellan, M. B., Moffitt, T. E., Robins, R. W., Poulton, R., & Caspi, A. (2006). Low self-esteem during adolescence predicts poor health, criminal behavior, and limited economic prospects during adulthood. Developmental Psychology, 42(2), 381–390.

Twyman, K., Saylor, C., Taylor, L. A., & Comeaux, C. (2010). Comparing children and adolescents engaged in cyberbullying to matched peers. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 13(2), 195–199.

Van der Graaff, J., Carlo, G., Crocetti, E., Koot, H. M., & Branje, S. (2018). Prosocial behavior in adolescence: Gender differences in development and links with empathy. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 47(5), 1086–1099.

Waasdorp, T. E., & Bradshaw, C. P. (2015). The co-occurrence between cyberbullying and traditional bullying. Journal of Adolescent Health, 56(5), 483–488.

Wang, J., Iannotti, R. J., & Nansel, T. R. (2009). School bullying among adolescents in the United States: Physical, verbal, relational, and cyber. Journal of Adolescent Health, 45(4), 368–375.

Weiss, T., & Yalon-Chamovitz, S. (2007). חקירת תפקידה של המציאות המדומה עבור בוגרים צעירים עם מגבלות שכליות ופיסיות [Investigation of the role of virtual reality for young adults with intellectual and physical impairment]. Haifa University.







PDF views