Projects: Collaborate.Health

Electronic Bullying in Boston Youth

Engaging bystanders of cyberbullying in youth-developed messaging to empower them to stand up to and change social norms around bullying.

Agency Partner
Boston Area Health Education Center, Boston Public Health Commission
Communication Strategies for Public Health
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Engaging bystanders of cyberbullying in youth-developed messaging to empower them to stand up to bullying and changing social norms around bullying. Included development of curriculum and accompanying media components.


With the increased use of technology among youth, the prevalence of electronic bullying has increased over time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define bullying as “any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated.” Electronic bullying is when students are teased, threatened, or are the subject of malicious rumors that happen repeatedly. Electronic bullying can occur through email, chat rooms, instant messaging, texting, social media websites, and/or video games. According to the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Study, approximately 14.8% of students between the ages of 12-17 had been electronically bullied. Female youth are almost twice as likely to report being bullied as male youth. White youth are also more likely to report being victims of electronic bullying than youth of color. Victims of bullying are more likely to have mental health, self-worth, and educational problems. Initiatives to prevent electronic bullying are in their infancy. Generally, bullying prevention has consisted of increased student supervision, behavior management, and school anti-bullying policies; however, these strategies may not extend to bullying that happens out of the school environment.


Decrease incidence of electronic bullying behaviors by youth aged 12-17 in youth in Boston.


The proposed intervention targets bystanders of cyberbullying instead of the victims by empowering bystanders to stand up to bullying and changing social norms around bullying.  The intervention consists of youth-developed messaging, role playing scenarios, parent training sessions, and peer leadership sessions.  The curriculum and accompanying media components were piloted with BAHEC students. Communication strategies and media executions are used to promote the program to youth and stakeholders.


After the semester the intervention was piloted with a group of youth in Boston and youth-developed messaging was created and disseminated to youth attending the summer program. Partner organization staff were also trained in cyberbullying prevention and intervention.

Project Timeline

This project took six months to complete from kick-off meeting to presentation of final deliverables. Click the button below for a detailed timeline.

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