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Background: Cyberbullying is a type of harassment that is perpetrated or experienced by a person or groups of persons via the use of electronic devices, and it frequently occurs amongst young people. Research has shown that cyberbullying is associated with psychiatric comorbidity, which could indicate a need for screening adolescents who present for mental health services.
Aim: This study aimed to determine the prevalence of cyberbullying amongst adolescents. The secondary aim was to determine the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)-5 psychiatric diagnoses associated with cyberbullying.
Setting: Lentegeur Hospital Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service in the Western Cape, South Africa.
Methods: This cross-sectional study included a convenience sample of 97 participants (sampled from both inpatient and outpatient services) between the ages of 13 years and 18 years. Adolescent assent and parental consent were obtained. Demographic and clinical data were collected from patient folders, and the Revised Cyber Bullying Inventory II was used to assess cyberbullying behaviours.
Results: The overall prevalence rate of some form of cyberbullying in this sample was 56.7%, of which 6.2% were cyberbullies, 20.6% were cyber-victims and 29.9% were cyberbullies and cyber-victims. Female participants were more likely to be involved in cyberbullying than males. The most prevalent primary psychiatric diagnoses in adolescents involved in cyberbullying included major depressive disorder (72.4%), schizophrenia (57.1%) and
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (22%). There was no significant association between cyberbullying and any psychiatric diagnoses.
Conclusion: The high prevalence rate of adolescents involved in cyberbullying suggests that this behaviour is a cause for concern in the South African population. More screening and treatment programmes should be implemented to address this issue.