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

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