A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Interventions to Decrease Cyberbullying Perpetration and Victimization

Evidence suggests that cyberbullying involvement among school-age children is related to problem behaviors and other adverse school performance constructs. As a result, numerous school-based programs have been developed and implemented to decrease cyberbullying perpetration and victimization.

Given the extensive literature and variation in program effectiveness, we conducted a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis of programs to: (1) decrease cyberbullying perpetration and victimization or (2) increase cyberbullying bystander behaviors.


Both reviews included published and unpublished literature, utilized modern, transparent, and reproducible methods, and examined confirmatory and exploratory moderating factors.

Our review’s results indicated that a general violence prevention program has the same probability of successfully reducing cyberbullying as a program that directly targets cyberbullying.

For the review of cyberbullying perpetration and victimization, a total of 50 studies and 320 effect sizes spanning 45,371 participants met the review protocol criteria. Results indicated that programs significantly reduced cyberbullying perpetration (g = -0.18, SE = 0.05, 95% CI [-0.28, -0.09]) and victimization (g = -0.13, SE = 0.04, 95% CI [-0.21, -0.05]). Moderator analyses, however, yielded only a few statistically significant findings. We interpret these findings and provide implications for future cyberbullying prevention policy and practice.

For the review of cyberbullying bystander, a total of 9 studies were identified as eligible. Meta-analytic synthesis of the studies involving 35 effect sizes demonstrated that overall, the treatment effect was not statistically significant (g = 0.29, SE = 0.14, p = .07, 95% CI [-0.03, 0.61]). Findings of the moderator analyses suggest that incorporating an empathy activation component in the prevention program was associated with better program effectiveness in promoting cyber-bystander intervention.

The project was led by Joshua Polanin, Ph.D, principal researcher at AIR; he served as the project’s Principal Investigator. At the project’s outset, Dr. Polanin was employed by Development Services Group, Inc., and therefore DSG served as the project’s prime awardee; American Institutes for Research served as a partner. Dorothy Espelage, PhD, served as the project’s co-Principal Investigator; Dr. Espelage is a William C. Friday Professor of Education in the Peabody School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.