The aim of the study was to test the relationship between experiences of being bullied, cyberbullied, and mental health difficulties, and whether these relationships are moderated by perceived social support and gender. Data were collected from 3737 year 8 pupils (aged 12 and 13 years; 50.1% male) using an online questionnaire. Measures of bullying victimization, perceived social support, and mental health difficulties were included in the online questionnaire. Moderation analyses were conducted to test whether the relationships between being bullied, cyberbullied, and mental health difficulties were moderated by perceived social support and gender. Four models were estimated, each assessing a different source of perceived social support (from family, friends and peers, professional sources, and the perception of having no support). Results of these analyses indicated that across all four models being bullied was significantly associated with mental health difficulties, and being cyberbullied was only significantly associated with poorer mental health difficulties in girls in one of the models. The different sources of perceived social support did not moderate the relationship between experiences of being bullied or cyberbullied and mental health difficulties for either boys or girls. However, significant associations were found between a perceived lack of support, perceived social support from friends and family, and mental health difficulties in girls, but not in boys. The results contribute to a complex body of research findings exploring the role of perceived social support in the relationship between experiences of being bullied and mental health difficulties.
Bibliographical note© The Author(s) 2019
- Mental health difficulties
- Perceived social support